The government will introduce vocational training in secondary schools in order to encourage more students to continue studying after they turn 16, Education Minister Evarist Bartolo said in parliament today.

He said the change will address the vacuum which was created years ago when the trade schools were closed.

The challenge, he said, would be to create a good enough link between the academic and vocational subjects.

Speaking during the Budget debate. Mr Bartolo also announced the setting up of a Budget Monitoring Unit within his ministry to oversee spending and report every month.

He said that in such a large ministry, one could sometimes find situations where resources were not addressed to the sectors which needed them most, with other sectors getting more than their due thanks to the force of personality of those who ran them and the way they presented their arguments.

This new unit, he said, would be tasked with making sure there was value for every euro spent.

That included areas such as the arrangements with Mita - the government IT agency, he said. For how much sense did it make for the education authorities to spend €2000 on a maintenance agreement for every laptop costing €600?

Another issue was how the ministry was spending a substantial chunk of its budget, €6 million, just to get children to school, with the bill having doubled in a short space of time.

He also announced that a team of architects would be carrying out a survey of every school.

While the former government boasted of building a new school every year, many of the remaining 160 schools lacked maintenance and cleanliness, he said.

Mr Bartolo said he would like state schools to enjoy more autonomy, like church and independent schools.

He wished to beef up respect for teachers and parents from the pupils. Indeed, children needed to have a culture of duties, and not just of rights.

He said the education authorities were also seeking a closer link between the syllabi, exams and teaching methods. 


Mr Bartolo said he regretted that soon after he took over, he had needed to call in the police to investigate alleged abuse in a public exam where it appeared that whoever was in charge had asked people to tamper with the results.

There could never be a situation where the people had doubts in public examinations, Mr Bartolo said. 


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