The Malta Independent 18 April 2024, Thursday
View E-Paper

Students not allowed to miss school because of family holidays

Therese Bonnici Tuesday, 3 February 2015, 09:18 Last update: about 10 years ago

Schools will not allow students to miss school days to go on trips abroad, and parents will now face a fine, even if the child misses just one school day.

A circular notice sent out to all parents and legal guardians of students attending primary and secondary schools informs parents that students will only be excused if they go on an educational trip abroad, or if they have to travel for medical reasons.

In such cases, the guardian is to write to the head of the school, who will decide whether the absence is approved or not.  In any other case, the student will be marked as absent and parents will be fined.

The circular informs parents that they need to provide a justification of absence for any missed day from school by writing to the head of school, and passing on any relevant documents that proves reason for absence.

If the student is sick for more than three days, a medical certificate is to be presented, and the family doctor is also instructed to fill in the Medical Certificate Record Card, which has to be passed on to the school in question, along with the medical certificate.

The regulations apply for all state, primary and church schools and at all levels of compulsory schooling.

In comments to The Malta Independent, Minister for Education Evarist Bartolo said that the issue is likely to be controversial among parents; however it has to be done to cut down on the high rate of absenteeism from schools. “I can understand that family vacations might also contribute to an educational visit abroad, but where then, do you draw the line? Parents need to shoulder responsibility for their children’s education. Also, one needs to make a distinction between a 3-day vacation, and a 14-day vacation – where the student will miss out on much more classes. However, I do admit, it’s not a black on white issue.”

The issue has also been controversial abroad, particularly in the United Kingdom, which has a longer academic year than Malta. During the start of the academic year, parents are able to get better flight prices, because it is during off-peak season for travelling.

The government has repeatedly stated that it will take a hard stance against parents who allow and encourage absenteeism, as well as doctors who issue unwarranted medical certificates. Meanwhile, parents will lose out on supplementary benefits if the student fails to attend 95% of school days, or, . Families with a maximum net annual income of €11,000 are eligible for the supplementary benefits. The families receive €400 for each of the first three children and a further €200 per additional child. Some 23,000 children coming from at least 13,000 families are expected to benefit from the scheme.

Tribunals can hand out a €7 fine, followed by an additional €2.33 for every failed attendance. It has been estimated that 235 primary school students miss 31 days of school per scholastic year, with some missing more in exceptional cases.

  • don't miss