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20 July, 2019
 
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Teachers take on minister in row over boy's death

Probe into school boy’s death pits teacher unions against government

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Organised teachers are up in arms over the education minister’s comments during a probe in the aftermath of a school boy’s death, when he asked union educators to stay away from the investigation.

Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris had ordered a probe into the circumstances surrounding the death of 10-year-old Stavros Georgallis, who was fatally injured at school while playing basketball on May 11.

The boy died in hospital hours later, with two doctors being disciplined and another teacher becoming the focus of attention.

Two officials visited the Alethriko school in Larnaca district last week after hearing that colleagues were being questioned, including the teacher who was in charge of gym class when the injury took place.

“It is unacceptable that a minister can think that the president and secretary of a teachers association would try to interfere with an ongoing investigation”

The minister got wind of their presence at the school and sent a message asking that they leave school premises.

But they refused to go away and the minister called the police.

POED teachers union president Filios Fylaktou condemned the minister’s actions on live radio Monday morning.

“It is unacceptable that a minister can think that the president and secretary of a teachers association would try to interfere with an ongoing investigation,” Fylaktou said.

POED also condemned remarks by Hambiaouris when he made references to “mental issues” and abilities regarding teachers, which was widely believed to have been a reference to the teacher in question who was described as problematic in a leaked memo.

The minister has asked for an open dialogue, calling on all involved to enter a discussion about education and the need to reform the system.

But POED officials, who said Saturday they would stop talking to the minister, are seeking the support from other unions, and are even threatening to mobilise their EU colleagues unless the minister changes course of action.

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Cyprus  |  education  |  POED  |  teacher  |  union

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