Anxiety and depression among teachers in Honduras are on the rise, reports El Heraldo.
Psychologists and doctors in Honduras have reported a rise in complaints of anxiety, depression, and insomnia from teachers who fear going to work because they teach in areas considered high risk for gang activity.
The teachers report they have received intimidation and death threats by their own students, students’ parents, infiltrated gang members in the classrooms, and friends and relatives of their students.
One teacher who opted to hide her identity for safety reasons told El Heraldo that she used to teach in an educational institution in the capital until she was threatened by one of her own students:
“My student failed a class and was ordered to retake Lecture and Language. When I told her she had failed, she told me forcefully, “if you don’t pass me, you’ll have to deal with my mara.”
The teacher never returned to her job.
Every day more teachers in Honduras seek medical and psychological assistance for mental health symptoms resulting from teaching while afraid. The Honduran Institute of Social Security reports that most of them complain of depression and hopelessness.
A psychiatrist who works in the institute blames the situation on a broken educative system and a government that is failing its teachers:
“They expect so much from teachers, but won’t ensure their safety.”
Due to insecurity, Honduran teachers teaching in educational districts, like Francisco Morazán, a school district with 2,674 educational centers where 13,618 teachers work, are filing petitions for immediate transfer outside of the neighborhood.
“We receive up to 10 teachers’ requests for transfer, daily.”
El Heraldo staff visited the school district where they witnessed long lines of teachers waiting to file petitions to be transferred. The also observed that many teachers decided to walk away from the long lines, giving up on the transfer and on teaching.
One of the most painful outcomes of this challenging situation for educators is that they believe that the future of Honduras depends on raising the next generation of Honduran children to live healthier lives, to pursue higher education, entrepreneurial jobs and change their country into a healthy Honduras. But this is not possible as things stand. Gangs are infiltrated in the schools, ruling the schools through fear and intimidation.
One teacher told El Heraldo that students turn in their own teachers to the maras.
“They tell on their teachers. Students tell the gangs that the teachers are telling them to walk away from gangs and choose a different lifestyle. When teachers tell the students to choose the healthy life, they place a target on their back.”
Diario Roatan reports that teachers are now facing another hurdle. Marcial Solis, Secretary of Education has ordered a halt in teacher transfers.
Teachers and their advocates are fighting back. They claim that if the halt on school transfers order is not dismissed, they will hold Solis responsible for anything that happens to these teachers.
Secretary of Finances of COPEMH, Miguel Motinio denounced that at least 145 teachers in this dangerous school district have reported death threats.
Honduran press, El Tiempo reports that the government is doing next to nothing to eliminate the insecurity problem affecting teachers.
“What is happening with the educational system in our country?” asked Roberto Troches, President of Colegio Superacion:
“Our government has an obligation and a need to investigate and punish criminals who kill teachers.”
Last week, Honduran leadership participated in a Central American meeting to plan the reunification of separated families and brainstorm campaigns to stop migrant youth and adolescents from leaving their countries and migrating to the United States. No matter how sweet or enticing the campaigns turn out to be, Hondurans won’t be able to convince its youth to stay if they fear for their lives in the classroom or watch their teachers get shot. Before campaigns to prevent departure work, Honduras must prioritize safety and security, especially in schools and take every measure to protect their teachers; one of the few vehicles available to inspire the youth to dream of a better tomorrow and to gain the skills to rebirth their country