Education Ombudsman Has Received Complaints about Emotional Abuse

Education Ombudsman Martin Matak (stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, February 16 (TASR) – Education Ombudsman Martin Matak, director of the section for the protection of rights in regional education, has received around 60 submissions since December, the highest numbers of which came from Kosice, Presov and Trencin, Education, Science, Research and Sport Ministry spokesperson Beata Dupalova Ksenzsighova told TASR on Tuesday.

Most of the submissions were related to bossing, mobbing and bullying. “I’ve been receiving letters mainly from female teachers that have a certain kind of problem with the headteacher’s attitudes. Most of the complaints are from primary schools,” said the education ombudsman. Employees in the education system have complained about various issues such as emotional abuse, pressure to change grades and the manipulation of work contracts.

Matak has already received letters from school accounts clerks, a caretaker and three mothers, however. “One of these mothers, a lady from Zvolen (Banska Bystrica region), said that her son’s teacher is calling him ‘four eyes’ in front of the whole class, which is very degrading. The teacher supposedly namecalls other pupils as well. Additionally, she doesn’t effectively address bullying among the children,” added Matak. One of the most extreme reported cases concerned a female headteacher who physically attacked one of the teachers in front of her colleagues before locking her in a room.

According to Matak, the biggest problem is that people are often afraid to speak out or do so when it’s too late. “They break their silence after years in what appears to be something like a confession. They usually no longer work at the school at this time because they weren’t able to endure such behaviour any longer. I regret these cases, but I can’t help at that stage,” said Matak, appealing to teachers to speak out immediately when there are witnesses and within the statute of limitation.

Individual submissions are first consulted within the section, then with lawyers and only after that with a particular school, local unions or inspectors. “The most important and at the same time the most difficult element is to obtain an objective perspective,” said Matak.