The Malta Independent 22 September 2020, Tuesday

Moving forward

Owen Bonnici Friday, 7 August 2020, 08:18 Last update: about 3 months ago

Speaking in Parliament last week, and also in other media, I explained that the Ministry for Education and Employment is fully committed to continue with the necessary preparations in the best possible way so that on 28 September, schools will be able to open and receive students for the next scholastic year.

In fact, in the coming days a number of meetings will be held between the ministry and all the stakeholders to discuss the reopening of school. The meetings follow essential work that has been done by the ministry towards a full and comprehensive preparation of students’ syllabi.

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All those involved have been working for the past months on these syllabi. I reiterate that our children deserve the best possible and we are working hard to achieve this best.

The government’s commitment is that of opening the schools and other educational institutions on the 28 September so that our children, our students will continue on their educational journey but at the same time they will also integrate back in another important aspect – the educational environment.

It is obvious that we will be taking all the necessary safeguards to protect not only the children but also the educators. And this is why we are starting a series of meetings with all the stakeholders during which we will discuss and share our thoughts on the reopening of schools for the benefit of our children.

I wish to sincerely thank all those who are working hard to get our children back together with their peers on the school benches this September.

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As I am writing this, the Education Department’s hard working maintenance personnel are going on with the upkeep and regeneration of our schools. In fact today I received more updates about ongoing works which eventually all our educators and students will be benefitting from.

The Santa Luċija Secondary School was built in the 90s albeit without a hall and sports complex. Through another of the several projects at hand, we are building a hall for social activities, as well as an indoor sports complex. This project, which is being carried out with an investment of around €4 million, will be completed in the next school year. These facilities will be available for use by the local community after school hours. Our children deserve the best!

Progress was also registered at the Żejtun Secondary, where extensions, modernisation and new buildings will start receiving students during the coming scholastic year.

Works being done also include the upkeep of our schools. A typical day would see the pruning of trees and maintenance of the St Thomas Moore College in Marsaxlokk; the painting of the corridors and ground facilities at the Msida Education Hub; at St George Preca College Valletta other workers were busy with the upkeep of the gym facilities, installing parquet and also starting work on a feature wall; at the Marsa Primary School plastering and painting was on the works agenda. More workers were giving a good clean up at the Verdala Secondary - Santa Margerita College, as was going on at Maria Regina College; another group of workers were installing new lights and also painting at the Naxxar Middle School, and continuing with works at the reception area; more plastering and painting was at the hands of another group at Lily of the Valley School in Mosta; and at Mosta Primary B soft flooring was being installed in the ground.

I heartily thank the college staff and all the maintenance personnel with their supervisors and management. Their work may not be in the limelight or will probably not make the news headlines, but they are doing an important and necessary job benefiting our children and our grandchildren.

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Last weekend the Ministry for Education held the yearly I Choose Fair. A fair addressed to all Year 11 (Form 5) students and involved stands for post-secondary and tertiary institutions with guidance practitioners and school educators to provide information and support for these students.

The main aim of this fair was to enable our students to make informed choices about their future. It included input from all post-secondary educational institutions, talks and information sessions were held by professionals in various fields with a wide and interesting programme of events.

I gladly acknowledge the success of this fair with the participation of hundreds of students, parents and educators. Well done to all!

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A short but significant event this week saw the launch of a campaign ‘Clean It Up’, a joint campaign between Foundation for Educational Services officials, LESA and the Commissioner for Animal Welfare together with the Żurrieq Local Council.

The campaign aims to raise awareness on multiple themes associated with the need to educate people from a young age on the responsibility to keep a clean environment. As a Maltese nation we have a high percentage to families who own domestic pets. However, these bundles of joy also carry responsibilities, especially where a clean environment is concerned.

So this campaign includes awareness with talks about this responsibility as apart from the lack of cleanliness in village streets, our pets can be the result of litter with a negative impact on the environment.

An educational campaign was always on my mind with regard to this subject as this is a problem that almost every village or town faces at some point or another. This is the purpose for this campaign and after discussions held with LESA and the Office of the Commissioner for Animal Welfare together with the Żurrieq Local Council, we are launching this campaign. I feel optimistic that this campaign will raise awareness about the sense of responsibility one must have in order to maintain cleanliness and the beauty in our villages even by simply cleaning up after our dogs. With the help of educational programmes of this sort, we are nurturing awareness about this issue in our children and future generations.

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