In Jordan, Rising Violence Against Teachers
AMMAN—On the same day in two different schools in Al-Raseefa city in Zarqa, northeast of Amman, students and their families assaulted teachers and administrators, injuring them and damaging school property.
Having suffered from the prevalence of violence for years among its students especially in universities, Jordon is now witnessing a new round of assaults against teachers.
According to a statement by the Teachers’ Syndicate, the national union of teachers, some students attacked a teacher at Abo Seyah School in Al-Raseefa and broke the school gate and injured the principal. The incident occurred when a teacher asked to see a student’s father to discuss the student’s education. The student was offended and attacked the teacher with the help of his friends. When the principal tried to prevent them from entering the school, they broke the gate and injured the principal.
In another incident, four men carrying guns and large knives attacked a school at Al-Qadesya in Al-Raseefa after their son was beaten in a fight with some students after school hours. The student’s family attacked the school during a teachers’ meeting after the school day.
The two incidents were part of a series of assaults against schoolteachers in Jordon, mostly outside the capital.
Amgad Al-Badawy, chairman of the legal committee in the Teachers’ Syndicate, said that “Teachers are no longer respected among students and their communities.” In a meeting with the Ministry of Interior, he called for “drafting a new legislation to protect the dignity of teachers.”
During the last two years, teachers and administrators have been assaulted 56 times, according to the Teachers’ Syndicate. Officials also assume that many incidents have not been reported. Assaults include damaging cars, school buildings, administration rooms, and classrooms using sticks, pipelines, knives, and razors. In some cases teachers were threatened with weapons. Such assaults are not limited to teachers; they also have targeted supervisors and school principals.
In March, 16 students threw a bottle bomb on the house of Magda Al-Tartoury, principal of Zat El-Netaqayen Secondary School for Girls, in Zarqa. “Some school students broke into the school with a small car,” she said, “so I detained them in the school garage until security arrived. Some of them managed to escape and they took revenge the next day by throwing a bottle bomb on my house, which burned parts of my house and my little son was also injured.”
Youssef Harby, a teacher at the Om El-Waleed Secondary School for Boys in Lewaa El-Giza, south of Amman, was beaten with sticks and truncheons in his classroom by secondary school students.
“After refusing to let some students into the classroom because they came in late,” he said, “they broke into the classroom and hit me in front of the other students. I then had to be taken to the hospital for treatment.”
Last week, teachers entered into a partial strike to protest the assaults against them. Although many students have been sent to court as a result of the assaults, teachers are still worried about how often they are happening.
Academics believe that there are several factors leading to the increase of aggression against teachers, such as the tribal nature of the society and the absence of laws to deter such behavior.
Khalil Al-Rofoua, dean of the art faculty at Al-Yarmouk University, said “Parents are largely responsible for the disrespect of teachers, and sometimes they encourage their children to disobey teachers’ instructions, threatening to complain to the school principal.”
Al-Rofoua also attributes the phenomenon to the psychological stresses from which students suffer due to school or family problems. He said “Sometimes students use violence to express their psychological tension especially because there are no psychotherapists in schools and universities.”
A study on the causes of student aggression against teachers and administrators, conducted in 2008 and published in the Jordanian Educational Sciences Journal recommended building stronger relationships between schools and the society. In doing so, the study said, schools should organize frequent parents’ meetings, and awareness seminars to teach parents how to face their surrounding circumstances and challenges without adversely affecting their children’s behavior.
Ayman Al-Akour, a spokesman for the Teachers’ Syndicate said “Assaults against social servants in general and teachers in particular pose a pressing problem, which requires immediate study and research on the causes of the problem and feasible solutions.”