By Sue-Ann Wayow
THE Ministry of Education has reported several incidents of online abuse to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) one week into official teaching of the new school term.
In a press release issued by the police on Friday, the TTPS stated that secondary school teachers have reported to the Cyber and Social Media Unit (CSMU) that they were being verbally abused and disrespected while conducting classes online.
The TTPS stated, “The TTPS is advising that such conduct should cease immediately and it will be working with both internal and external stakeholders in investigating and prosecuting such behaviour. Online classes should be safe spaces for both teachers and students alike.”
“Teachers are therefore urged to take all available measures to protect themselves and their students during their online sessions. This includes, recording their online teaching sessions to identify disruptive and abusive behaviour and muting or removing abusive persons from the online teaching platform. Additionally, teachers should accurately register students for each class,” the TTPS added.
The TTPS stated that it will be working alongside the Ministry of Education to ensure that the ‘cyber-school term’ is safe for teachers, pupils and parents.
On September 12, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly posted on her Facebook account that she was most displeased at the level of disrespect displayed in the online classroom setting.
She wrote, “Different time, same challenges. A classroom is a classroom- whether online or face to face, and misbehaviour always finds an outlet, unfortunately. I note with utmost displeasure the incidences, thankfully sporadic, of disrespect to our teachers by students, and sadly, at least one parent during this last week in the online environment. Nothing makes this OK. We are all experiencing differing levels of stress as we navigate this new experience- students, teachers, parents, principals, MOE staff, stakeholders- none is exempt; but our teachers are out on the frontline, many of them spending hours preparing work, organizing themselves to deliver to the best of their ability, and they deserve our full respect and support.”
She continued, “A teacher being exposed to the level of disrespect I have heard in recorded classes can be humiliating, distressing and devastating. Let’s all do our part to encourage respect for each other in the online environment, and let’s remember that we are adjusting to this together- we must be tolerant of each other’s process. Each of us may not play our role perfectly from the start, but with time and effort, we will become more skilled in our navigation of this ‘cyberterm.’
“So let our watchwords, “Discipline, Tolerance, and Production” be our guide, as together, we continue to surmount the many challenges of these uncertain times.”