The Education Ministry has again failed to deliver on time on its promise to Marsascala residents to have a new primary school in place for the start of this scholastic year. The work has not been completed.

Originally, the new €5 million project was meant to be ready at the beginning of last year’s scholastic year.

After several delays to start off the project, the CEO of the Foundation for Tomorrow Schools, Mario Gafà, told the State broadcaster last February that the works on the school were at a very advanced stage and that the new facility will open its doors in September 2018.

A visit to the site by the Times of Malta yesterday showed that the new school is far from ready and the area is currently a fully-fledged building site. While the facade of parts of the new building have already been painted, other parts are still in shell form and may take several weeks, if not months, to complete.

Asked to explain why the school, in the pipeline since at least 2015, has not been delivered on time again, a spokeswoman for the Education Ministry confirmed that this was the case.

It’s disgusting. We were promised this school would be ready last year

However, she insisted that “the new primary school will be ready during the scholastic year as planned… The FTS is currently focusing on the finishing works and the school will be ready before the end of the year.”

Parents of children who were eager to send their children to the new school expressed their disappointment at “the slow pace” the building was taking to be completed.

“It’s unbelievable that despite all the promises from Education Minister Evarist Bartolo, we have to send our children to other schools as they have once again not managed to get their act together,” a 38-year-old mother of two said.

“It’s disgusting. We were promised this school would be ready last year. Not only they didn’t manage to do that but now we will probably have to wait another year. The amateurism of the Education Ministry is astonishing,” another parent said.

Work on the new school did not start for two years due to internal problems at the FTS and delays in the tendering processes.

The FTS, the state agency responsible for the building and refurbishment of government schools, was marred with corruption allegations during the last legislature, with various chairmen and CEOs either tendering their resignation or leaving the post.

In one case at the end of 2016, former CEO Philip Rizzo, a person of trust appointed by Mr Bartolo, tendered his resignation pointing his fingers directly at the minister for trying to dissuade him for months from reporting his canvasser to the authorities on cases of corruption.

Mr Bartolo said that he wanted to wait for “a smoking gun” before passing the corruption claims to the police.

Last year, Edward Caruana, a former chief canvasser of Mr Bartolo who was given a lucrative job at the FTS after the 2013 election, was accused in court with various counts of corruption related to works on the building of new government schools.

The case is still pending.

Mr Bartolo refused to take any political responsibility insisting that he took action against his canvasser.

ivan.camilleri@timesofmalta.com

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