More than 800 students are still on the waiting list for a seat on a free mini-bus that will transport them to school when the new scholastic year kicks off in the coming days.
Speaking during a press briefing on Saturday, Education Minister Evarist Bartolo confirmed there were still 829 students from Church and independent schools on the waiting list for transport as part of a scheme that will see the government funding the service for all students.
Admitting that he was concerned about these students, Mr Bartolo said the ministry was currently carrying out a mapping and matching exercise in an attempt to address the situation.
Times of Malta reported on Thursday that many schools were told by service providers they could not guarantee the service like previous years and parents who have paid for private school transport for many years were informed there was no room for their children anymore because vans were already full-up.
Asked when he believed the situation would be resolved, given that school doors re-open next week, Mr Bartolo said he could not say but insisted that the government was committed to addressing the issue.
On supervision onboard the mini-buses, which was a Labour Party electoral pledge, Mr Bartolo said that this service was being offered on those routes with students attending kindergarten level in state school.
Permanent Secretary Frank Fabri quashed rumours that not enough people had signed up for the job of supervisors, insisting that there were plenty of educators who had wanted the job.
Pressed to say why the supervision would not be offered on all routes if this was truly the case, Dr Fabri insisted that the ministry wanted to introduce things "gradually".
On pick-up times, which in the case of non-state schools are not regulated by the agreement between the operators and the government, Mr Bartolo insisted that the ministry would intervene if it learnt of pick up times that were "unrealistic" giving not other details on this.