The Malta Independent 5 August 2020, Wednesday

Schools are essential to promote green policies

Owen Bonnici Friday, 21 February 2020, 08:07 Last update: about 7 months ago

Green Flag/Eco Schools is a EU-wide initiative to promote green schools and environmental awareness. It is described as a fundamental initiative which encourages young people to engage in their environment by allowing them the opportunity to actively protect it. It starts in the classroom where it expands to the school and eventually fosters change in the community at large.

Through this programme, young people experience a sense of achievement at being able to have a say in the environmental management policies of their schools, ultimately steering them towards certification and the prestige which comes with being awarded a Green Flag.

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In this context, I applaud St Clare College Primary School in Gzira. Visiting the school this week, I was shown the vertical wall indoor garden, an initiative which is unique to this school and helps to create more awareness on the environment.

This also takes me back to my first visit as Minister responsible for Education - the FEE Fest, a 3-day event organised by Nature Trust at the Education for Sustainable Development Hub. This fair, in its fourth year, provides the opportunity for students to learn more about the environment through the presence of various entities which provide environmental education and education for sustainable development topics. It is organised as part of the EkoSkola Programme.

Nature Trust – FEE Malta has in the past years given great importance to education for sustainable development (ESD) in our Islands so much so that we have become a reference point for ESD implementation.

The number of schools participating in EkoSkola has kept increasing over the years. Partcipating schools that have engaged in the integration of ESD in the curriculum through a whole school approach are awarded the Green Flag – an international certification based on international quality criteria for ESD.

I laud such initiatives, especially as they provide an educational outlet which raises awareness on the importance of the environment around us, and strongly beleive that schools are essential to promote green policies.

At St Clare College Primary School in Gzira, I highlighted the importance of providing children with all the right tools especially within the education sector from an early age. We are working towards providing a sound platform through education, for the benefit of our students’ future, so that they can work towards furthering their education and career prospects in the future. This Government strives to continue strengthening the education sector to further ensure more opportunities.

I also visited the Alternative Learning Programme (ALP) School, which forms part of the St Thomas More College as part of a series of visits in our country’s schools and educational institutions. This programme is only offered at this school.

I stress on the importance of offering alternative education for our students, by providing them with the possibility of pursuing a vocational pathway. Everyone possesses different skills, and through this programme we are offering students training in different fields and hands-on experience, providing them with the necessary tools to mould their future.

The ALP provides students with an alternative opportunity through vocational subjects, enriches them with relevant and competent skills, and thus prepares them to step in higher vocational education with practical and theoretical knowledge. The ALP is a vocational and creative centre that offers many hands-on and practical opportunities through a number of programmes and courses. It engages students to develop themselves for the needs of a society that is increasingly demanding skilled and knowledgeable workers. The programme is available for students who are in their final year of formal schooling (Year 11) and can be pursued for two years. The ALP+ is also available for students between the age of 16 and 18.

In both schools I met the Head of School, educators and staff.

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We do not only provide students with the necessary tools to mould their future. We also support them in this delicate period in their lives.

The Get Qualified Scheme is an initiative that supports the personal development of individuals for the achievement of qualifications and certifications required by industry. 9,364 beneficiaries were granted the total sum of €23,910,646 in tax credits between 2013 and 2019 through the Malta Enterprise’s Get Qualified Scheme initiative, which is administered by the Ministry for Education and Employment through the National Skills Council.

During the period indicated, there was a significant increase of beneficiaries who benefitted from this scheme when compared to the period 2006-2012, when 3,710 beneficiaries were granted the total amount of €11,535,124 in tax credits.

The incentive is applicable to individuals following a course of studies leading to a certification, diploma, degree, or post-graduate degree courses. Upon successful completion, the student will benefit from a tax credit enabling them to recover part of the costs incurred.

This is a scheme aimed for students during one of the most important phases of their life, when they are in the midst of their studies, as it not only helps them to better their education, but also during a phase when they are choosing their future career and are doing their utmost to get their much-needed qualifications. We will continue to better schemes and other incentives in these two important fields so that all sectors of our society benefit from them for the development and advancement of each and every one of us.

By means of this scheme, students pursuing courses approved by the Ministry for Education and Employment are granted a tax credit on payments made to a university, institution or entity for training and also education services that lead to to the approved qualification and also for payments for examinations leading to an approved qualification.

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Għaxaq Music Events have just announced the details of this year’s edition of Summer Lust, which will be organized in the village of Ħal Għaxaq on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd of May. 

This voluntary organisation is organising this event in aid of another voluntary organisation - Dar Bjorn.  Last year it raised and donated the sum of €18,320 to Dar Bjorn.

I laud the efforts by both organisations who are working towards strengthening this sector.  These initiatives are the basis of voluntary work and the Ministry fully supports such events which serve a noble cause.

Summer Lust will showcase the best local talent as well as an international artist and will be held at the Ħal Għaxaq grounds. The first day of Summer Lust will feature the internationally renowned Thomas Anders of Modern Talking which is certainly the most popular duo of the eighties. The second day of the festival will feature Ira Losco who attracts huge crowds to her concerts every year and is the most popular local artist of our times.  She will be joined by her band as well as a number of other top local artists which will be announced closer to the date.

 

 

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