“Our children’s education is a priority. A priority for which this Government is investing without precedence. We are looking at four years of investment and reforms from which our country benefitted, not least in the education sector”, said Minister for Education Justyne Caruana this morning when she announced an investment of just over a quarter of a million for Summer Catch-up Sessions intended for students affected by the pandemic.
“Today I am announcing an investment of €257,000 for a recovery programme in the education of our children,” continued Minister Caruana, “And as a government we were able to do this because we had a strong economy.”
Parliamentary Secretary Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi said that through this programme, that is co-financed by European funds, additional lessons will be provided to primary and secondary students. They shall be given the opportunity to revise what they learned during this scholastic year. He said that this programme aims at assisting these students who found it more difficult to follow lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He stressed that during these years large investments in education were made from European Union funds. This shows how this government is for the people and invests in the people. We shall continue to invest in the education sector of our country to continue preparing Malta for the future
Minister Caruana explained that when the pandemic broke out in March last year, one of the first preventive measures was the closure of educational institutions. The Government and the Ministry of Education worked to ensure that this does not affect our children so that they will not be a victim to a global pandemic that created unprecedented situations. This led to the reopening of schools in September last year which remained open throughout the entire scholastic year.
Before schools opened, alternative means of learning were provided, with a virtual school, online lessons for all and learning on the digital platform, while virtual schools were opened for students who were at risk.
An initial internal study about attendance during the 2020/2021 scholastic year showed that there was a high level of absenteeism from a substantial number of students. This led to an intensive and coordinated effort leading to the Ministry for Education offering a learning recovery programme, which will take place during the summer. Minister Caruana said that this will be done in a structured way and will address first those who had a high rate of absenteeism during the pandemic: those students who have less than ten percent school attendance during this scholastic year (October 2020-May 2021) but who attended regularly in schools before the pandemic broke out, during the scholastic year October 2019-March 2020. These students were identified for each year in the educational system—a total of 2,360 students from Year 1 to Year 11 (1,190 primary students; 402 Year 7 and Year 8 middle school students; and 768 Year 9 and Year 10 secondary school students).
The programme includes not only a range of basic recovery lessons, but also support through various services, which will be done both physically (in person) but also through virtual learning.
The eight-week programme will run from 12th July to the 3rd September, with a timetable of four days a week, from 8.30 am to noon, and students will be divided into groups according to their school year.
There will be 4 learning centres for the primary levels: in Paola, Birkirkara, Qawra, and Victoria Gozo—and the Virtual National School and 4 learning centres for the middle and secondary: in St. Lucia, Mrieħel, Mosta, and the Secondary School in Gozo—and the Virtual National School, and a centre for sessions of the Prince Trust International Achieve Programme.
The PTI Achieve Catch-up sessions centre will cater for students to help them retrieve those units at different levels they need, to obtain the certificate or qualification at MQF 1/2/3 level.
Minister Justyne Caruana said, “This initiative has one goal. To give our students an opportunity to regain what they lost during the pandemic months. This government invests in the people, in our children, because they are the leaders and the society of tomorrow, the future of our country.”
Application details for those who are interested will be issued in the coming days.