English language schools’ ultimatum: We are opening in June

The Federation of English Language Teaching Schools says its members have been discriminated against by measures introduced to combat COVID-19 and that schools will reopen on the day Malta opens its doors to tourists again

English language schools have decided to reopen on 1 June, when the country reopens for tourists, even though the government has not yet given its go-ahead.

In a statement issued this morning, the Federation of English Language Teaching Schools (FELTOM) claimed its members were being discriminated against and that they risked losing out to competing markets if they do remain limited to online learning, as per measures introduced to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“The English language teaching industry in Malta has, for the past 14 months, experienced financial devastation with no end in sight,” Rebecca Bonnici, FELTOM’s Chairperson, said.

“The industry has been respectful of and compliant with government measures from the start and has been lobbying with government for financial aid for weeks to ensure that the businesses, which contribute so much to Malta’s economy, will survive.”

ELT schools have already received 10,711 bookings for the second and third quarter of this year, with an average stay of three weeks per student.

FELTOM claims those reservations could be lost if the schools do not open their doors on 1 June. It said that the extended closure that continued to be imposed on English language schools led to 2,124 cancellations. Schools also reported an additional 2,849 English language learners who had postponed their travel plans indefinitely.

“We feel that if the ELT industry continues to be discriminated against, these 10,711 bookings, together with the potential 2,807 that have postponed their travels, will be lost to competing markets which have started to open their doors to ELT students, effectively putting the last nails in the industry’s coffin,” Bonnici said.

She said that members had been incessantly marketing themselves and their courses, leading to positive results.

Markets being targeted by FELTOM’s member schools include Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Belgium, Colombia, Chile, Japan, Russia, South Korea and Turkey.

Besides the financial losses incurred by the schools during the pandemic, other service providers such as school employees, accommodation providers, host families, were also severely affected, In 2019 alone, the total spend of ELT students in Malta was close to €200 million.