Skola Sajf set to open doors on Friday

Education minister says staff shortage has been resolved and state-run summer school will open its doors on Friday, after the ministry identified the necessary resources to man the school, which is set to host 10,800 pupils.

Skola Sajf and Klabb 3-16 will start receiving pupils this Friday, education minister Evarist Bartolo said this evening.

In a statement issued by government, Bartolo said that 63 centres in Malta and Gozo will operate at full capacity hosting up to 10,800 pupils.

Earlier, MaltaToday reported that the Foundation for Educational Services approached 560 students currently enrolled at MCAST and offered them a part-time employment contract to work at centres hosting summer schools Klabb 3-16 and Skola Sajf.

The MCAST students are currently studying social care, childcare and sports.

According to a spokesperson for the ministry of education, both university and MCAST students were recruited to work in the centres. The opening of the public summer schools was delayed by a week after the FES realised it did not have enough staff to man the centres and take care of 10,800 children.

“Both university and MCAST students were recruited to work within Klabb 3-16 and Skolasajf. In addition to these, staff working in schools, such as Kindergarten Assistants, Learning Support Assistants, Childcare Assistants and teachers, have been recruited too. All those recruited to work within Klabb 3-16 and Skola Sajf centres are offered a definite part-time employment contract,” a spokesperson confirmed.

The spokesperson explained that in previous years, due to a much smaller demand, the FES only approached university students.

“Due to the record-breaking demand for this year’s service, students from the Institute of Community Services at MCAST, who total 560, were also approached. These students come from the areas of social care, childcare and sports within MCAST,” the spokesman said.

“The conditions and roles of MCAST students are the same as those of university students in previous years.”

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo confirmed that Skola Sajf would be fully operational by Monday, after the ministry identified the necessary resources to man the school, which is set to host 10,800 pupils.

The opening of the centres was postponed by a week after the FES confirmed that not enough teachers and staff were available.

This year, Klabb 3-16 and Skola Sajf joined forces in a bid to increase opening hours and offer more affordable prices for summer schools, however Bartolo explained that the FES had failed to make the necessary preparations.

The minister said it was unacceptable that parents were only informed of the problems on Sunday evening, 12 hours before the opening of the centres.

Bartolo said he would rather work with persons who are candid and honest when they encounter difficulties: “You cannot say that everything is fine when it clearly wasn’t the case.”

A ministerial inquiry will be held.

He also explained that up to 200 teachers and staff members had dropped out at the last minute because of logistical problems which would have seen teachers running centres alone.

Technology ‘must be integrated’ in educational system

Addressing a seminar for teachers attending a training course on the use of tablets, the education minister said the biggest challenge was integrating the use of technology, such as tablets, with the learning outcome framework, the pedagogy of teaching and all other aspects of education.

“Technology will not miraculously resolve the shortcomings in our educational system, however it is a reality which must be integrated into the system,” Bartolo said, adding that today’s children are digital natives and “they look at the world from a different angle.”

By the beginning of the 2015-16 scholastic year, all schoolchildren will receive a free computer tablet.

Bartolo admitted that technology also has its downsides: “However there is no alternative and we cannot turn schools into monasteries for cloistered nuns and keep technology out. But on the other hand we cannot put our guard down.”

13 local and international industry partners have responded to a call for proposals and will be loaning their tablets and providing their software solutions free of charge for evaluation in schools.  

Their investment is calculated at around €200,000 and they are providing popular brands such as Acer, Apple, Google Nexus, Haier, Intel, LearnPad, Lenovo, and Samsung.