5 October 2006
Violence against teachers a barrier to quality education
Violence against teachers around the globe is one of the key barriers to quality education for all, PPTA president Debbie Te Whaiti said today.
She was commenting on World Teachers Day, which is celebrated in over 100 countries around the world to mark the contribution teachers make to education, locally and internationally.
This year’s celebration is particularly significant as it marks the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the UNESCO/ILO recommendations on the status of teachers.
Mrs Te Whaiti said this year’s theme, “Quality Teachers for Quality Education", was an important one because quality teaching could make a positive difference to the lives of so many children.
“Teachers’ influence goes far beyond the classroom. They help create our future leaders, our product designers, artists and writers, sportspeople and engineers. They instil in people an enthusiasm for life-long learning and a desire to contribute positively to society.”
Mrs Te Whaiti said New Zealand teachers were fortunate compared to their neighbours in the Pacific – “teachers in Fiji battling horrendous class sizes, teachers in Tonga fighting for decent salaries, and teachers in Papua New Guinea who are often subject to violence and are in the frontline in their villages and communities in the battle against HIV/Aids.”
However, she said deteriorating student behaviour in New Zealand was also impinging on effective teaching and the recruitment and retention of teachers.
“We heard at our Annual Conference last week teachers who had experienced repeated verbal intimidation, threats of rape, desks being thrown out a window, and of one school where three teachers were assaulted in a single day.
“That student behaviour not only impacts on their ability to do their job but also on the learning of other students.
“One of UNESCO’s recommendations on the status of teachers was for working conditions for teachers that would best promote effective learning and enable teachers to concentrate on teaching and learning.
“If we really want to meet that goal, we need to do more to ensure our schools have the resources and outside help to adequately contend with, and address, difficult student behaviour.”