More than 15,800 children benefitting from free childcare services

The government announced the opening of Zmeraldi, in Haz-Zebbug, the 14th daily childcare centre in Malta earlier today

Education Minister, Evarist Bartolo, at the new Zmeraldi childcare centre in Haz-Zebbug
Education Minister, Evarist Bartolo, at the new Zmeraldi childcare centre in Haz-Zebbug

More than 15,800 children and 21,000 parents are benefitting from the free childcare services around Malta according to a government press release.

Education Minister, Evarist Bartolo, inaugurated Zmeraldi, the 14th public and daily childcare centre in Haz-Zebbug earlier today.

This, like all the other centres, is run by the Foundation of Educational Services (FES) and Zmeraldi is already catering for 15 children. The number is expected to rise.

"The centre measures 498.3 square metres and will treat children to animated storytelling, sensory activities and other recreational activities in the courtyard," a ministry spokesperson said.

The education ministry said that €150,000 were invested in the new childcare centre in Haz-Zebbug. This was spent on infrastructure and restructuring, new tiles and the installation of new furniture and windows, work which was completed with the collaboration of FES, the Directorate for the Quality and Standards in Education and Foundation for the Schools of Tomorrow.

The Free Childcare scheme started operating in April 2014 and has catered for more than 15,800 children since then. Between April 2014 and December 2018, the government provided free childcare services with an investment of over €63 million.

"Parents have the opportunity to take their children to the childcare centre of their choice, whether public or private. In April 2014, there were 69 centres, now the number is up to 129, 14 of which are public and run by FES," Minister Bartolo said.

FES Chairperson Elena Borg said that the services provided by FES will continue to guarantee the peace of mind of many parents across the island while their children are following educational programmes. "Direct contact with parents is always maintained, as well as with the tutors working with the children," she added.