A fund to cover uniforms, stationery, and school lunches for vulnerable students will be extended, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Tuesday.
Addressing a cabinet meeting on education, Abela said the scheme, introduced during the last legislature, would be extended to incorporate more necessities and cover more students in need.
At present some 2,000 students receive financial aid for their uniforms, photocopies, and school lunch. The scheme also sees the cost of school outings covered as well as fees for extracurricular activities organised by SportMalta.
Abela said the government would be allocating around €10,000 per state school to help cover the basic schooling needs of students at risk of poverty. The fund covers state school students aged between three and 16.
The cabinet meeting was held at St Nicholas Secondary School in Dingli and saw ministers and education stakeholders discuss a variety of issues facing the sector.
Abela said he was glad to say that the new scholastic year had just got underway without any major hiccups.
Preparing students for the real world
On his part, Education Minister Clifton Grima said the government wanted to ensure that the education system prepared future generations for the real world.
The meeting also heard from stakeholders in the education sector, including Mark Borg. a professor at the University of Malta’s department of educational studies. He said that in recent years there had been a notable improvement in students’ performance in benchmark examinations.
The real test came during the pandemic when many predicted that performance would dip. Not only did it not get worse, but students actually did better, he said.
The influx of foreign students and the introduction of multiculturalism at schools was a change that no one foresaw and was a present challenge, he said.
George Vella, a secondary school student at the Dingli school said he would have liked to have learnt things that were important but not covered in class - such as how the electoral system works, and how the tax system functions.
He said the curriculum could feature more current affairs and more extracurricular activities.
Graham Sansone, from the union of professional educators, urged the government to invest in attracting students to a career in education.
Antonia Ciappara, another student from the Dingli school, said the school was too small for the number of students attending and it lacked enough open and green spaces. She also called for extracurricular activities to be held in the school after hours as this would cut down on travel times and traffic as well as give a bit more time to parent. Ciappara also suggested that computer studies be considered one of the obligatory science courses that students are to undertake.
On her uniform, the student said the one-size fits all uniform was uncomfortable for girls, and asked for some sort of sports skirt especially for the hot summer months when students are still expected to wear trousers.