The Malta Independent 18 June 2024, Tuesday
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Labour recycling a 10-year-old story - George Pullicino

Gabriel Schembri Wednesday, 31 May 2017, 07:48 Last update: about 8 years ago

What would you say are the good and bad things that have been done during the last four years in the education sector?

One thing that I can praise is the fact that, despite the many changes, the process went smoothly and the sector did not experience any particular shock.

My problem, in a lot of cases, had to do with ‘deadline fatigue’. It was very clear that, in many circumstances, the government was dragging its feet. Deadlines were all being moved, one after the other, both for physical projects and for changes in educational programmes.


It seems to me that, many a time, every project had to be halted because agreement with the relevant stake-holders had not been reached. This was one of the more frequent criticisms. Obviously, we cannot fail to mention the whole FTS saga and the fact that the government had failed to continue with the school building programme.


What do you think are the best proposals for this sector in the Nationalist Party manifesto?

We have presented 16 concrete proposals for the education sector. My favourite is the proposal aimed at addressing the lack of creativity in our schools. We also have to look at the real need for free child care. Our point is that free child care should not only be given to those who work, because in this manner we are only providing this service to incentivise employment. I believe we also have to look at the social factor in all of this. Our educational system needs to be synchronised with social and family behaviour.

What we really want to see is a link between school education and social policy which is more defined. This is where I believe we are lagging behind.


The education sector is facing a crisis related to the shortage of staff. What do you intend to do about this?

I think the government needs to address the professional status of teachers and LSAs. Our manifesto looks into this as well. We need to understand that the current status is not possible with the current economy. We have young graduates who just find it illogical to go and work in a school instead of working in IT or online gambling. Concretely, we are proposing the introduction of security cameras and proper gate-keeping.

We have to remember that teachers are the ones who will probably influence you the most throughout your childhood.

We have to remember that it is probably teachers who have the biggest influence on children.


Looking at the past legislature, what would be the particular parliamentary session that you will never forget?

The debate on Zonqor: that 12-hour marathon was unforgettable. The fact that it turned out the Prime Minister made his decision on the development after only 10 minutes really says it all. The experience of the developer was questionable already. But I expected, at least, that a serious Prime Minister would have told investors that he would be discussing the agreement beforehand.

I just could not understand why the university needed a site by the sea. Do they need a high PH value to set up a university there?


The Labour Party is lashing out at the way you handled the BWSC permits and are demanding your head on a plate. What is your reaction?

This is a non-story. They are recycling a 10-year-old story. All that happened is that our legal notice was not in line with EU law. We took the necessary advice from experts, including Enemalta and the Environmental Directorate, and they all suggested that we change the law to be in line with the EU directive.

We presented the legal notice publicly and the Labour Party knew about it and had all the time in the world to contest it. It’s no surprise that, just before an election, they pull this particular rabbit out of the hat. Where’s the scandal?

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