Language schools reiterated early on Wednesday they have been unfairly singled out because of a unilateral decision taken by the highest authorities on how the tourist industry was opened last June.

In a statement issued hours after the publication of a legal notice closing all language schools as from Wednesday (today), the Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta (FELTOM) said that it was still awaiting a response from the government following a meeting on Tuesday morning.

“While the abrupt, forced closure of the sector has set the Language Schools into complete panic and disarray, FELTOM insists that it is the jobs of the approximate 2,000 direct employees that must take priority without delay,” it said.

Health Minister Chris Fearne had announced the closure of the schools on Friday after the majority of new virus cases in Malta were linked to overseas travel, with a particular spike in cases related to English language schools. 

The schools reacted saying the measure was unwarranted and disproportionate.

FELTOM said that in its meeting on Tuesday, it outlined a list of suggestions on how to work with government to deal with the crisis. Proposals included:

  • Ensuring that all staff and students are protected against further contamination and the spread of the virus throughout the student body and the rest of the community;
  • Allowing for vaccinated adult students to continue to learn face to face without further postponement;
  • Outlining a rescue package to protect the 2,000 jobs that depend on this industry to survive; and
  • Seeing how best to work with the government to turn what could be a reputational disaster into an image enhancer not only for the sector but also for the industry and the country.

FELTOM said that after opening their doors in June, member schools worked tirelessly to handle the larger than expected numbers but are now facing the following realities:

  • 15,000 booking cancellations since the announcement was made last Friday;
  • Loss in revenue, with €36 million on the books of its members;
  • Job losses directly and indirectly linked to the industry;
  • Complete liquidation of companies and the decimation of a 58-year-old industry;
  • Irreparable damage to Malta’s international reputation; and
  • Discrimination towards one sector of the tourism economy with a biased decision.

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