The Government is in the process of considering changes in the Education Act including the possibility of introducing the concept of home schooling,  Education Minister Evarist Bartolo said this evening.

Without going into specifics, Mr Bartolo told a well-attended consultation meeting on education that changes the Government was looking into would also give state schools more autonomy in the provision of education.

During the meeting, he acknowledged that there was a problem of cleanliness in schools and that this was being tackled. He said he hoped that the problem would have been solved by the beginning of the next scholastic year. He said the government was also looking into the working conditions of school cleaners after one person complained that many of them have been working part-time for some 14 years.

He also acknowledged the need to build new schools but one of the first decisions he took when he became minister was to invest €15 million to upgrade the present schools. "There are schools which are in a very bad state," he said.

Mr Bartolo said parents should be involved in the education of their children, even through involving them in schooling. There are various studies which showed that up to 70 per cent of the child's education depended on what happens outside schools, including at home.

During the consultation meeting, a mother of an autistic child complained that children are being sent back home when their LSA (learning support assistant) called in sick. She called for a specialised unit for autistic children so they could continue their education.

Questioned whether it was true that Maltese children living with their parents in Brussels and Luxembourg were going to exempted from sitting for their Maltese exams, Mr Bartolo said he would look into this claim because the government was spending a lot of money to send teachers abroad to teach these children. He stressed the importance of bilingualism and how children ought to be well-versed in both Maltese and English.

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