The Malta Independent 15 August 2020, Saturday

Positive impact

Owen Bonnici Friday, 10 July 2020, 08:01 Last update: about 2 months ago

The decision to re-open childcare centres and SkolaSajf was a correct, positive and vital one.  Through the re-opening of those institutions, children’s routines were put back in place, and people returned to work. 

Last Sunday marked the first month from the reopening of the free child care centres, and I am pleased to note that since their opening the number of children attending has continued to grow. From an initial 1,200 children on the first couple of days, as of July this number has grown to more than 2,400 children attending these free childcare centres.

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This is a success in itself, a success that was not achieved by chance. This was a result of a coordinated plan between all involved, first and foremost all at Jobsplus who are involved in the operation of this scheme, and all the child carers for the excellent work they do.

The free Childcare Scheme is an initiative promised in the Government’s Electoral Manifesto in 2013, and launched in April 2014, whereby Government provides free childcare services to parents/guardians who are in employment or are pursuing their education, with the aim to help families achieve a work/life balance.

SkolaSajf 2020 opened its doors two weeks earlier than usual in 55 centres and with a total number of 7,849 applications on Wednesday 1 July, with the first week reflecting the hard work that made this opening another success.

This also was a result of the excellent work from the SkolaSajf administration and FES workers that made it possible.

SkolSajf 2020 this year is a special edition for various reasons. It represents a collective victory for Malta and Gozo, who worked together to reach the stage where Skolasajf is the first educational institution catering for residents to open its doors following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

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One of the services provided by state schools is that known as the Schools Library Service with an aim of providing adequate libraries for schools at all levels to support the curriculum and literacy incentives.

This week I visited the Zurrieq Primary School’s library and although this year was a short year for schooling and library use, during the visit I could see the dedication towards literacy and reading by all those taking care of this library.

If I had to list the importance of reading, it would be a never ending list. Reading is important because it develops the mind, opens up new horizons, enriches our knowledge, and develops our imagination and our creative side. But most of all, reading is an everyday need.

I encourage all parents and custodians to take their children to the libraries we have in our towns and villages, especially during summer’s idle months. Teach them about the importance of reading and open up new worlds for them.

This thought leads me to another occasion during which I launched the fourth book from the series ‘Għamlulna Ġieħ’, published by Wirt iż-Żejtun, which is dedicated to Klement Tabone, who lived in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The book builds upon the achievements of the previous three from the same series, in appreciation of public figures and personalities who lived and worked in Żejtun through different ages.

I feel honoured to have had this opportunity to launch this book. Tabone was raised and lived in Casal Pasqualino, and hails from a rich family who contributed towards the well-being of the society and assisted the community at that time. Their contributions and actions raised their importance both at local and national historical level. 

These publications will not only inspire civic pride but will help the generations of today to build up over the positive actions made by our ancestors.

 

A very interesting read, the book is being published through the assistance of the Ministry of Education and Employment, to commemorate the 10th anniversary from the establishment of Wirt iż-Żejtun.

 

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Together with the National Literacy Agency, I launched a competition to celebrate the upcoming European Day of Languages 2020, during which I highlighted the importance of foreign languages in today’s modern world.

Again, reading will surely enhance one’s knowledge and practise of foreign languages.

The European Day of Languages has been organised since 2001 by the Council of Europe to celebrate linguistic diversity. This year’s motto is ‘Discover the world through languages’. As Maltese, we already have our own language which is different to other countries to be proud of, yet we still aim to learn other languages from our early years. Through languages, we are able to communicate with one another, and this is the beauty of languages. This is why we feel the need to celebrate this day.

Families, Skolasajf centres and other summer clubs and schools are invited to organise activities to celebrate languages in Malta and beyond.

Here I applaud the National Literacy Agency, spoke about the Agency’s commitment to the promotion of foreign languages. Children are to be encouraged to develop their communication skills in other languages in addition to their home languages. These difficult times have shown us that reading is one way to discover worlds beyond ours, and reading in a different language can help us experience different cultures.

This year’s competition is entitled ‘What do you dare to do in a foreign language?’, and to participate, children and young adults can create a short video clip that exhibits their communication skills in a foreign language. 

Participants may send their video clip by private message to the official FB page; Language Policy Malta.

 

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