Teachers are being billed for damage  and some faults which develop in the laptops recently given to them by the authorities, it has emerged.

Complaints were made to the Malta Union of Teachers, whose senior vice president, Marco Bonnici, replied on Facebook by reproducing the standard email teachers are receiving, adding that the laptops are not covered by a full guarantee.  In some cases, the bill has run into hundreds of euro.

The letter reads: “With reference to the repairs on your Laptop covered by ticket number... Following diagnostics it was established that the laptop has a faulty Screen which needs to be replaced In this regard we have the pleasure in submitting our quotation for your kind consideration. Should you require further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us. We shall be looking forward for your feedback with instructions on how to proceed Price is Excluding VAT Thanks & Regards.”

Several teachers asked what is actually covered by guarantee, for which the MUT vice president replied on Facebook that “hardware failure is covered by guarantee, but not damage, even if it is accidental.”

Old laptops were insured to cover such damages but new ones are not, he said.

His comments drew an angry reaction, with a teacher writing “if this is their final decision, then it is better if we return them.” Another also said the laptops should be returned to the Education Department en masse.

MUT president Kevin Bonello when contacted said  the union had already issued directives instructing teachers not to pay any of the bills.

“Accidents are bound to happen, especially when using the computer in class. We’re talking about an environment where children are involved, who could easily knock over a laptop. We don’t want a situation where children are forced to spend most of their time behind their desks.”

He said the union is  already dealing with some five cases, with teachers being asked to foot the bill.

The union is also in talks with the education ministry but Mr Bonello said the problems seemed to be coming from the suppliers’ end.

“We’re calling for the issue to be resolved as soon as possible and that all computers are insured. The Ministry seems to agree but we’re still in talks,” Mr Bonello said.

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