Children in some state schools may have to attend lessons in mobile classrooms because no more space is available since a planned building programme has so far failed to materialise.

Education Ministry sources said the government prefers to remain silent on the “growing crisis” hitting the State education system, primarily because of overcrowding, lack of resources and bad planning. 

Arrangements have been made to install mobile classrooms at St Paul’s Bay primary and Żejtun’s secondary schools as from the next academic year, they added.

“There is also the possibility that this ‘solution’ will also be extended to schools in other locations, where new school-building programmes have fallen significantly behind schedule and student populations continue to rise at an alarming rate,” the sources warned.

The Education Ministry was asked about the mobile classrooms plans and for details on how many children these temporary structures would accommodate but no replies were forthcoming at the time of writing.

Such emergency measures demonstrate that the education sector is in crisis

The largest of the mobile classrooms are expected to be installed at the St Paul’s Bay primary school, where about eight such units are likely to be used.

The secondary school in Żejtun, part of the St Thomas Moore College, is expected to take about six mobile classrooms, the source added.

The need to build a new school at St Paul’s Bay has been evident for years now as the locality became home to about 100 different nationalities, mostly migrants. 

To cope with the increasing demands for State education there, the government had planned to build a new primary school in Qawra by 2015. However, long delays, lack of planning and claims of corruption at the government’s school building agency, the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools, pushed target dates significantly off the mark. The completion date of the new school is also expected to miss the latest target date, this coming September.

Based on recent statistics, the population of St Paul’s Bay grew by 26 per cent between 2015 and 2018, with over 26,000 residents living in the seaside locality.

In Żejtun, the mobile units are expected to substitute the classrooms that were planned to form part of an additional new floor, which also had to be ready by September but has been delayed. Apart from Żejtun itself, the secondary school also caters for the Marsascala area, which is also experiencing a boom in population.

Żejtun’s population stood at 13,726 last year, up 12 per cent over 2015.

Senior education officials told Times of Malta that the fact that the government was resorting to such emergency measures demonstrated that the education sector was in crisis and that the government had no real plan on how to cope with the increasing population, mostly through imported labour.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat warned last Sunday that Malta’s future prosperity depended on the importation of more labour, in line with the government’s economic plan. 

“If you don’t want more foreigners, say goodbye to pensions,” he warned.

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