One of the biggest Teachers unions states “For many years the NASUWT has also been highlighting the issue of disruption, harassment and violence in schools. The NASUWT continues to be the teachers’ union supporting members to defend their right to work in an environment free from violence and disruption”.
The UK National Union of Teachers (NUT) in the Code of Professional Conduct says; All actions which are alleged to be injurious to the interests of the profession or the professional honour of any member can be referred to the appropriate committee for adjudication. As per the Code of Ethics for NUT members: A teacher should not deliberately behave in such a way as to bring his or her school into disrepute nor should a teacher behave in a racially discriminatory manner or make racist remarks directed towards or about ethnic minority groups or members thereof. The Association of American Teachers states “ we believe all educators are obligated to help foster civic virtues such as integrity, diligence, responsibility, cooperation, loyalty, fidelity, and respect-for the law, for human life, for others, and for self”.
Between February and March 2011 in Bahrain, many state schoolteachers solicited their young impressionable wards into the streets to protest against the very government that was offering them free compulsory education. As the protests became more violent, teachers encouraged students to discriminate against their own class mates resulting in attacks and fights which led to hospitalization of tens of innocent students. Many concerned parents of all sects were forced to keep their children out of school during this period to protect them from politicization of their valuable education. Sadly, most of the students that were seen in street protests were shiaa with shiaa coalition groups denying communities their basic rights of education. Since January 2013 protestors from Feb14 have attacked over 100 schools and denied young students access by padlocking or barricading entrances.
Disappointedly after the NASUWT team from the UK visited Bahrain and held high profile meetings they made some absurd political statements, which could be seen as a violation of their role in any community. They said, “regrettably the situation in Bahrain remains a source of deep concern to the NASUWT and to the international community” and NASUWT also stated “The BTA is the voice of teachers and educators in Bahrain. It is an inclusive organization that is committed to democracy and non-violence”.
It is evident from their feedback that the team did not take the time to look into what had really happened. Instead of coming with preconceived notions of the leadership they could have used their time to understand how students had suffered at the hands of these so called teachers. Any parent expects teachers to behave in a responsible way, not to abuse nor manipulate the young minds of their children. No one expects nor will tolerate the mental or physical abuse of students by teachers. Therefore, I put a few questions to the blatantly insolent NASUWT team, who obviously support a fanatical political power that is not based in this country:
1. Why did teachers instruct shiaa students to attack sunni students?
2. Did this team take the time to meet with Khalid AlSirdi, one of the tens of Bahraini students brutally attacked and viciously beaten at Bahrain University? Do they know that a sunni female student was in a coma after being attacked by politicized students?
3. Why did the teachers go on strike at the very time when calm and reassurance was imperative?
4. Why did teachers take students on rallies in trucks used for transporting animals?
5. Students are living proof of what happened, and did NASUWT take the time or think of meeting with a cross section of children and parents before making sweeping statements against an entire country and over a million witnesses.
6. Why did NASUWT make a political statement against a country, thus politicizing their own role and ignoring the basic rights of hundreds of thousands of parents and their children?
Since 1928, Bahrain has provided free compulsory education to all Bahraini citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender. The Ministry of Education monitors education centres in the country to ensure that they meet international standards. University of Bahrain is heavily subsidized so that students may avail higher education at a fraction of the cost. Many of the top students are awarded scholarships so that they may study abroad thus bringing expertise back into the local market. The Crown Prince International Scholarship Programme (CPISP) offers fully funded scholarships to the best international universities and colleges around the world for the brightest and most talented students as well as allows post-graduate opportunities.
If NASUWT had come with a more transparent agenda and met freely with the community, they would have a better understanding of why unethical teachers who coerced students into violent political protests deserved to be removed from a position of trust.