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Stress and burnout Petition: 6,000 teachers demand more support

School teacher in action in Geneva

A school teacher in a primary school in Geneva

(Keystone)

Almost 6,000 teachers from across Switzerland have signed a petition calling for drastic improvements to their working conditions.

The petition, entitled “let us finally get back to teaching!” was handed in to the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education on Fridayexternal link. The cantons are in charge of education in Switzerland.

Teachers are more motivated than the average worker and place high demands on themselves and their work, the union of public service workers (VPOD) said in a statement on Fridayexternal link. But increasing demands of the job are putting a strain on teachers’ health. The average teacher’s health is not as good as the population average, the union said.

The petition calls for teachers to be able to devote more time to actually teaching, meaning a reduction in administrative teaks, clear and efficient support from the school management and the authorities, smaller classes and support from specialists such as speech therapists.

It asks the Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education to look at easing the present situation and come up with solutions.

Challenges

Switzerland’s education authorities have admitted that teachers are facing big challenges at work. They have flagged up the fast pace of change to knowledge, parents’ high expectations and children being taught in a more individual way as key points. Leading officials have however already dismissed the idea of smaller classes as not politically acceptable.

This is not the first time the risk of burnout to teachers has been raised. In late August 2017, just after the new school year started, the German-speaking Federation of Swiss Teachers (LCH) and its counterpart in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, the SERexternal link, called for more measures to protect teachers’ health in and out of the classroom, including having access to support when needed.

This followed on from a study commissioned by the SERexternal link which found that around 40% of teachers surveyed were “in a burnout situation”.


SDA-ATS/RTS/swissinfo.ch/ilj

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