Friday, October 14, 2011

Depressed Maths teacher sets herself on fire

An apparently depressed maths teacher in southern France has survived after setting herself on fire at a school.

Students and teachers rushed to the aid of the 44-year-old teacher after she doused herself in petrol during morning break and set herself alight in the playground of the secondary school.

The incident reportedly followed a combative meeting with students at the school in Beziers.

The education minister said he was shocked by this "desperate act".

Luc Chatel visited the hospital at which the teacher is being treated for third-degree burns.

Speaking on RTL radio, he described her as a "teacher who is in a situation of great fragility", and said an investigation was under way.

Parents and pupils told AFP news agency that they had a difficult relationship with the teacher - saying she had been hostile at a recent parents' evening and did not get on with several students in her maths class.

A meeting to clear the air with some of her students on Wednesday had become rowdy, they said.

She came to the Jean Moulin school on Thursday morning with a jerry can, gave a class at 09:00 (07:00 GMT) and then, when the morning break came, walked to the centre of the playground, poured petrol on herself and set herself alight.

"I saw her body on fire, walking forward with her hands on her head," said one student witness, Karim.

"Several people tried to put her out. She said 'No, leave me alone. I don't need help. God told me to do this.'"

Teachers threw blankets over her, Karim said, and the teacher was airlifted to Montpelier nearby.

The school - which houses 3,000 students and 280 teachers - sent all of its pupils home after the incident, and a psychological support unit was set up to cope with the aftermath


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