The Malta Independent 18 October 2021, Monday

Updated: New scholastic year opens, heavy traffic reported in most areas

Kevin Schembri Orland Monday, 28 September 2015, 09:31 Last update: about 7 years ago

31,513 pupils attending government schools returned to their classrooms this morning as the new scholastic year started. Others attending Church schools had already started last week.

This is the third year of co-education in state secondary schools. There are now 4,900 pupils in co-ed classes. 

The Ġużè Ellul Mercer School (GEM 16+) for students who only achieved an o-level in one SEC subject but wish to continue studying, while receiving a stipend, saw applications launch today. Education Minister Evarist Bartolo said the government is struggling to fill the 240 spaces allocated for students at the school. He explained that these students would receive stipends, however “They must come motivated, ready to give themselves another chance to at least achieve 2 or 3 o-levels".

Turning to the National School of Sport being built, and the light controversy regarding the bright colour scheme that had been used, the Minister explained that he wants schools to be a happy place and not look like an army barracks.

New centres for some 2,000 children who do not know Maltese or English have also opened.

Some 21 new physical education teachers have been hired by government, the most hired at a go in history the Minister said.

Turning to vocational subjects, the Minister announced that all state secondary schools, Church schools and some private schools will offer such subjects at o-levels.

These subjects are Agribusiness, Engineering Technology, Health and Social Care, Hospitality and Information Technology.

Specifically mentioning agribusiness, he said he was slightly disappointed with the low number of students who chose this course, adding that in today’s society, farmers are abandoning their fields.

The Minister spoke of the importance of languages for students, explaining the benefits for students who speak foreign languages in a globalised society.

The re-opening of the schools brought with them extra traffic on the roads. The already congested traffic – there was no respite during the supposedly easier summer months – was even worse this morning as many reported delays in arterial roads and intersections.

PN statement

In a statement, PN MP Therese Comodini Cachia said that through respect between parents and teachers with a focus on education, this year will bring students closer to achieving their aspirations.

George Pullicino, another PN MP, said that the coming year should bring about a change in the way the education sector is managed. “Government cannot continue to lower educational standard like it did through Legal Notice 150, through which university standards were lowered”.

Photos Michael Camilleri 

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