The Minister of Education has lambasted the country’s teachers who he accused of taking advantage of constitutional mental health laws to avoid work.
Further to accusations of widespread malingering among the teaching profession, Minister of Education, Neji Jalloul’s called for the constitutional safeguards protecting those with mental health issues be reviewed.
Speaking on JawharaFM, yesterday, Jalloul claimed the reason for the high percentage of absenteeism among teachers was too often attributed to their, “so-called mental health”. The former history teacher said that teachers nowadays use their mental health as an excuse not to attend class, saying that many who claimed mental illness, didn’t even understand what mental illnesses truly were.
Singled out for specific ire, were the laws governing mental illness leave which he said should be changed and updated, saying that currently there are “over 5000, (teachers on) lawful mental illness leave.”
Jalloul also discussed how much of the money invested in the country’s education system was eventually squandered through lax administration and absenteeism. However, when the Ministry attempted to enforce the regulations centrally, “people unite against us.”
In particular, Jalloul blamed civil associations for not letting the Ministry enforce the regulations governing the education system. Responding to Jalloul’s comments, Amjed Jomli, an official from the trade union congress, the UGTT told Tunisia Live tha the minister’s statement were “always provocative, designed to grab as much media attention as possible”. Jomli also noted that “Unions are always present, asking for the law to be enforced.” He also said that “there’s nothing he can do about the mental health leave.” as this is a constitutional right granted after a doctor has diagnosed an issue with a patient.
Jomli also questioned how invested the Ministry was in the welfare of its teachers, if such widespread mental health diagnoses could be dismissed so easily, emphasizing, “this country is a country of law, not the jungle.”
According to a survey by the BBC, mental illness among teachers frequently develop early in their careers and can escalate to the point where a teachers can no longer work anymore. In a survey, in the UK, 8 in 10 teachers have mental health problems and 1 in 10 teachers receive prescription has medication, usually anti-depressants and stress pills.
Nourjahen is an intern in the Tunisia Live newsroom. A graduate of the US Department of State's, Yes program, Nourjahen is fluent in English, German, Arabic and Fren