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English teacher suspended for mocking student exam on Facebook

Woman in Argentina made fun of pupil who answered test question in wrong language

Ridiculous or funny exam answers may be an internet staple but Gabriela Jarsun de Banfield, an English teacher at the Antonio Mentruyt School on the outskirts of the Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires, has found herself in hot water after sharing on Facebook an incorrect exam answer written by one of her students on Facebook.

A file image of a girl doing an exam.
A file image of a girl doing an exam.

On May 9, Jarsun took a photo of the answer in which the student had replied to a question in an English test entirely in Spanish, adding the comment: “They never cease to surprise me!” She has now been suspended from teaching duties pending an investigation.

Jarsun’s post itself quickly attracted plenty of comments with some people mocking the student’s answer: “I don’t know if the Spanish answer passes either,” one person wrote. But others strongly criticized the teacher for making fun of the youngster and called for her to be suspended and be stripped of her teaching qualifications.

A screengrab of the offending Facebook post before Gabriela Jarsun deleted it.
A screengrab of the offending Facebook post before Gabriela Jarsun deleted it.

Although Jarsun did not name the pupil involved, and removed the offending post when the controversy started, classmates recognized the girl’s answers and began to send her messages, according to the girl’s mother, Angélica.

“The Saturday after [the message was posted] my daughter started to receive messages from her classmates with a screengrab of the teacher’s post. Some were laughing at her and some were sympathetic. [My daughter] broke down in tears and I tried to console her,” the mother told local television station Todo Noticias, adding she had tried to get in touch with the teacher for an explanation but hadn’t received an answer.

It makes me angry that this teacher has no respect for one of my children

When the mother sent a second message, Jarsun blocked her on Facebook. She then went to the media. “It makes me angry that this teacher has no respect for one of my children. This woman doesn’t have any right to hurt her,” said Angélica, noting that any correction to her child’s work should take place in the classroom and not be made available on social media.

The school involved learned about the case via the media, at which point they called in the parents and launched an investigation to find out what had happened. “An article of the teaching code of practice has been activated, which involves a temporary suspension of teaching duties,” district education chief Mónica Martínez told EL PAÍS. Jarsun has been assigned new duties and could be out of the classroom for several months.

According to Martínez, the case is the first of its kind, although she recognized that cyber bullying is on the rise worldwide and that increasing focus is being placed on the fight against the problem.

While social media posts involving exam errors often go viral, cases where a student can be identified could constitute bullying.

English version by George Mills.

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