Updated | 56,000 students, 9,000 educators prepare to head back to school

State, church and private schools will reopen over the coming days, welcoming more than 56,000 students and 9,000 educators for a new scholastic year

More than 56,000 students are set to return to school in the coming days as a new scholastic year starts across state, church and private schools.

8,950 teaching professionals will be joining the 56,357 students in the back to school exodus, including 5,085 teachers, 3,173 learning support assistants (LSAs) and 692 kindergarten assistants.

There will be 600 more teachers and 200 additional LSAs starting school this year than there were in 2016.

The Education Ministry said in a statement that in the upcoming scholastic year, 4,432 Year 4 students will be receiving their tablets under the government’s ‘One tablet per child’ initiative.

4,387 students received the tablet last year and will be making full use of it in Year 5 this year, as they learn to harness three new apps on coding, information through videos and Author Premier.

The ministry noted that the School for Visual and Performing Rights would be opening its doors this year, giving students the opportunity to specialise in one of four art forms – drama, music, dance or media. Specialised studios had been prepared and equipped over the summer.

Malta Union of Teachers: 'figure of 600 new teachers is vastly different to what is being seen in school induction meetings'

The Malta Union of Teachers argued that the figure of 600 new teachers is vastly different to the number of teachers in school induction meetings, saying that the number of new teachers is around 200. 

"If it were true that 600 new teachers started teaching, then teachers who have been promoted would not be forced to continue teaching," they said, noting that Directors often find difficulties finding replacements in the area.

100 teachers are graduating from University this year, they continued, noting that some of these graduates will not continue in the profession.

MUT went on to claim that students following different syllabi are being placed in the same class because of the shortage of educators and that teachers are facing a massive load of work that does not allow them to contribute effectively to students' formative education.

Retired teachers are also being called in to make up for the shortage of educators, MUT continued. Teachers are also being instructed to teach a number of subjects in different schools, they said.

The Union noted a lack of both teachers and Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) in a number of different schools and called for better conditions for educators in the field.

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