[WATCH] PM insists students must return to school

Prime Minister Robert Abela says delay in reopening educational institutions would lead to hindering of students’ academic progression

Prime Minister Robert Abela has insisted that schools must reopen, or else the country risks having an educational gap.

“It is crucial for schools to reopen, whether by being physically there or thorough online lessons, our children must be taught,” Abela said.

The PM was being interviewed by veteran presenter Peppi Azzopardi on Labour TV station ONE TV.

While stating that he believes parents should be provided with an option on whether to send their children to school or not, he said a balance must be struck.

“The situation is different to what it was in March. Now we know what the right protocols are and how we must act,” he said.

Abela also downplayed a Times of Malta survey which showed that more people are against the return to school.

“An internal survey has shown that the majority of parents want their children to go to school,” Abela said.

Speaking on his own daughter, Abela said that should the right systems be in play, he would be sending her to school.  

“I understand people’s concerns, but let’s not forget that the educational development of our children is at stake,” he said.

On the coronavirus pandemic’s situation in Malta, Abela stressed on adapting to the situation at hand.

“The game changer will be the vaccine, but until then, we have to live the virus,” he said.

Abela said that “killing” the economy would be devastating for the country.

He also said that should the vaccine be made available following approval by health authorities; he would take it.

The PM said that it would not be made mandatory.

Migration

Asked by Azzopardi over the deportation and pushback of migrants, Abela said that government has not lost touch with the humanitarian aspect of the situation, but insisted that Malta is full.

“1% of our population are migrants. Malta is full up, and we must relay this message to the rest of Europe,” he said.

He also called out other European states for preaching solidarity but never carrying it out.

Referring to the group of 27 migrants aboard Danish vessel Maersk Etienne, Abela said that member stated wouldn’t even take one person each for relocation.

“Nobody moved a finger to save them,” Abela said.

He said government will continue pushing for an EU wide solution, as well as for a meaningful impact in Libya.

“We must be on the ground and fixing the situation where it starts,” Abela stated.

Public Inquiry

After facing flak for imposing a December deadline on the public inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Abela said the terms of reference were clear before the investigation was launched.

“The inquiry had a nine-month deadline which finished in August. The judges asked me for an extension and I approved it,” he said.

“It is not acceptable for an inquiry to continue to drag on.”

He also called out the inquiry board for meeting for a few hours weekly, insisting that if need be they step up the efficiency at which the inquiry is being carried out.

“We need to close this chapter. The longer we take, the bigger the damage,” he said.

Prison

Azzopardi raised the issue on the culture of fear being instilled at the Corradino Correctional Facilty, after a Maltese national awaiting extradition to the United States committed suicide earlier in September.

Abela played down the claims, insisting prison has undergone a well needed reform.

“Drugs have been abolished, and violence has been curbed. My assessment is that we did a lot to reform prison,” Abela said.

Despite Abela statements, Azzopardi insisted that while drugs have been removed, the need for them hasn’t, hinting at the improper treatment of addicts serving time.

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