Sat | Apr 13, 2024

Letter of the Day | Teachers are at end of their rope

Published:Saturday | January 28, 2023 | 12:17 AM


In light of the recent incident at Newell High School, I need to vent some concerns and clear some misconceptions. While the teacher in question behaved alarmingly inappropriately, it is important to understand some important facts.

Teachers play multiple roles. They are mentors, therapists, mediators, social workers, referees and parents. The Ministry of Education, and by extension the Government, has failed to provide schools with the necessary resources for quality education. We are observed, appraised and judged to be inept or failing when we are given baskets to carry water. No textbooks for some, no Internet, overpriced food, inadequate bathrooms, no school nurse, overcrowded classrooms, inadequate access to electricity, and the list could go on for days.

Parents think we are their children’s parents or nannies and have instilled no positive values and set poor examples for their children. But, we, the teachers, are supposed to be superhumans. We are overworked, underappreciated and poorly paid. Absolutely no government entity has made any real effort to provide mental health help for us. Many of us suffer from mental health issues that are all connected to our jobs. Mental healthcare is difficult to access and often we are reprimanded if time off has to be taken to access mental health services.

I have been in this profession for almost 30 years and never before have I seen more cases of depression, anxiety, even attempted suicides, and other antisocial behaviour among my colleagues. Teachers with other illnesses related to excessive stress are ignored and, if there is any response, it is too little too late.

How much longer will the Government vilify teachers saying we are failures? When will our mental health be taken seriously? When will the Government give us our money? When will the Government realise and accept that sick teachers cannot serve as we ought to? When will parents understand and learn their roles? How long will politicians use the promise of spoils to trick the public into thinking that all problems in education lay at the door of the teacher?

We are only humans ... and there is a saying “pressure buss pipe”. Pipe going to buss all over our country and, for once, we can’t blame the NWC.

Teachers need support, they need access to proper health services, they need to eat and be satisfied just like any other individuals who work so hard to help others.

I am ashamed and disappointed at how we are treated and perceived by the very people for whom we have given so much of our lives.

Jamaica is my home. My children are my life. Jamaica, what do you want for our children?

With all that being said, students are to be nurtured, but where do we draw the line? What happens when boundaries are crossed and we the teachers are at the end of our rope?