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Government to give €3 million in grants to private independent schools

€1 million a year for private schools in grants for staff and technological upgrades.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
2 October 2012, 12:00am
Education minister Dolores Cristina said every child's education was the business of government.
Education minister Dolores Cristina said every child's education was the business of government.
€3 million is to be paid out to private independent schools over the next three years in grants for staff improvement and technological upgrading.

Finance and education ministers Tonio Fenech and Dolores Cristina announced the grant system at St Martin's College in the presence of Independent Schools Association Bernice Mizzi.

The scheme will cover works already carried out by schools from 1 January 2012. A ministry spokesperson said the grants are part of the Budget 2012 measures announced last year.

Independent schools will benefit up to €95 per kindergarten pupil, and €145 and €170 for each pupil in primary and secondary education.

The grants come on top of tax rebates to parents of €1,300, €1,600 and €2,300 for kindergarten, primary and secondary school children respectively.

Mizzi welcomed the €3 million grant as a pleasant conclusion to talks held between government and the ISA over the financial problems faced by private independent schools in ensuring their longevity.

In 2010, a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the ISA said the schools would need €17 million over the next decade - in the form of tax credits or a "voucher system" for parents to send their children to private schools - to finance the ever higher cost of private education.

"We work hard to improve our quality of education and we cannot do this without added funding," Mizzi said today. "School fees cannot be raised any higher and we need government's support. The grants for the ISA schools will help sustain our exciting future."

According to ISA report, in 2010 it cost less to educate a student at a private school (€1,655 a year, compared to €2,217 for State school students), but if private schools close down, the cost to absorb these students into the Church and State schools would be as high as €3,000 per head.

Education minister Dolores Cristina acknowledged that the general improvement across state schools could not be ignored. "We see competition between state and private as well as church schools, but we also acknowledge that all children - whether those who attend private, government, or church educated - are children 'of government' and we respect parents' right to choose their children's education."

Cristina told MaltaToday that the impression that parents who sent their children to private schools were rich "is a myth... these parents work hard to send their children to the school they see fit, and we would rather invest in these children's education than see fees raised."

Finance minister Tonio Fenech said the grants will benefit go directly into up-skilling of staff and technological investment for private schools.

In 2010, with the Junior Lyceum exam phased out for secondary state colleges, and a €20 million Church school expansion expected to create 2,000 new places, the ISA faced a smaller supply of students. The association claimed the 'loss in demand' would mean that they would either close down their schools, or significantly downsize their operations because of this 'loss in business'.

"The current financial situation facing the schools threatens their long-term viability... the spiral would be one of higher costs, reducing student population and sharp fee escalation, leading to further reductions in student numbers, until one is left with a handful of elite schools catering for a tiny minority of students," the ISA warned in its PWC report.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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Monique Vella
Ftit bzar iehor! Roxxu roxxu. Izda kollu ghalxejn tafx ghax in-nies m'ghadhomx bhahen - kif jahsbu ta' GozniPN
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Malcolm Mifsud
Shameful and disgracful use of taxpayers' money. I will certainly not congratulate anyone involved in this initiative . This consecrates an unfair three tier elitist educational system. It goes against all trends of real inclusiveness in European education. This money should have been spent to strengthen the public school system and to incorporate church and state supported schools into one unified educational system. Which schools do you think the children of minimum wage earners attend if not some government school ghetto?. No wonder our government schools have the worst rate of functional illiteracy in Europe. No wonder we spend so much on each student and achieve so little.I have lost hope in the MUT speaking on such fundamental educational matters. I also admit that this is one of those issues which no political party dare speak about or act against for fear of losing those precious votes of parents . I therefore trust that this unfair discriminatory system comes to the attention of the EU education commissioner and DG and that they investigate the government funding of Maltese schools . I am sure they will not allow EU funds to be directed to such schemes which reinforce such a discriminatory elitist system.
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dejn, dejn u aktar dejn, jider li mhux mintakom il flus.lahhar sforzi ta barbie girl.
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josette farrugia
This is truly unjust. We are spending public money for private schools and then we do not have enough resources for public schools, Mcast etc.. The parents of these children have made a rightful choice to send their students to these schools (most are elitist and think that they are superior by doing so) and it is only they who should pay for their expenses.
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josette farrugia
This is truly unjust. We are spending public money for private schools and then we do not have enough resources for public schools, Mcast etc.. The parents of these children have made a rightful choice to send their students to these schools (most are elitist and think that they are superior by doing so) and it is only they who should pay for their expenses.
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Yanika Chetcuti
Chicken feed! Parents and private schooling institutions are saving Government coffers millions upon millions annually. Unfortunately, the end result of all this hard work by private schools and parents is allowing the party in Government to turn state schools into politically "incumbency" fields and an educational "desert".
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Paul Dalli
X'dizappunt kbir kelli dalghodu nara biss lil miss malta cristina u l-abbati ta' birkirkara ghal din ic-cerimonja !!!! Veru li naf li ghalkemm dawn it-tnejn ippruvaw jaghtu l-impressjoni li qed jaghtu xi flus mill-bwiet personali taghhom, dan xejn ma hu minnu .... imma nghid is-sew ippretendejt li maghhom ikun hemm gonzipn (imma bilhaqq dak imhabbat bil-5 + 5 !!!!!) jew simon busuttil (il-midluk fuq mohhu) jew stephen spiteri (imma forsi kien okkupat dalghodu jimla l-formoli ta' dawn l-ahhar hames snin !!!!) jew lil chris said (imma dak imhabbat jirranga l-qorti u jtihom iz-zidiet fil-pagi lill-magistratura ghax tant hadmulu msieken !!!) jew lil demarco (imma dak kellu rehearsal il-manoel biex ma jkomplix jitkellem minn imniehru) ... jew lil govanna ta' ghawdex (imma dik kienet qed thaffer il-mina bejn malta u ghawdex forsi jlestuha qabel l-elezzjoni) ... jew forsi t-team tat-three tenors ta' wistin gatt, delia u grech (imma dawk kienu mhabbtin jaraw li l-arriva qed tirrispetta l-kundizzjonijiet kollha tal-ftehim u jlestu c-cheque ghas-sussidju li jridu jaghtuhom minn hawn u ftit iehor) ..... jew forsi gorg pullicino (imma forsi kien qed jikteb id-djarju jew ihawwel xi sigra fil-foss tal-Mdina dalghodu) ....... insomma, affarihom, huma tilfu cans li jidhru quddiem il-camera u jilghabuha ta' xi sinjuri jqassmu l-flus taghhom ........
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Nazzareno azzopardi
Min fejn ser iggibhom il flus Dolores?
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Raymond Mintoff
Another electoral gimick and these HYPOCRITES keep asking where PL will find the money. Where is gonzipn finding these pre-electoral hand outs?