There are currently 180 pending applications from students waiting for a learning support educator, Education Minister Clifton Grima said.

Answering a parliamentary question by PN MP Graziella Attard Previ, the minister said that the oldest application that is still pending dates to October 2022.

LSEs are assigned to students with special educational needs who require additional classroom support.

Sources said that students who need an LSE often fall behind on academic subjects, since they do not get the one-to-one support they need.

Teachers in classes with students who need an LSE but do not have one also find it difficult to manage their classroom while attending to the needs of students in their class.

During Wednesday’s parliamentary sitting, Attard Previ expressed her concern about the shortage of LSEs and asked Social Welfare Minister Michael Falzon what the government was doing about it.

The minister said that while this was primarily a responsibility of the Education Ministry, his ministry worked closely with it. He said there was an open call for LSEs but people were not a commodity and finding 180 LSEs quickly was not easy, because not enough were interested in this sort of work.

Unfortunately, he said, there were many conditions that merited assistance by LSEs, although perhaps children were being labelled too much.

The government was continuing to do its best to address the situation by encouraging more people to become LSEs and improving their conditions, as well as working with NGOs involved in the sector, he said.

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