Education: the school grounds and beyond

A €173 million investment across 14 educational infrastructure projects, aiming to elevate the school experience to the highest standards.

What do you remember most when you look back at your school days? Most probably your friends, your teachers, and the school itself. We’re talking brick and mortar.

The design and amenities of our school significantly shape our educational journey, influencing both our learning and overall experience. That’s why the government is advancing with a substantial €173 million investment across 14 educational infrastructure projects, aiming to elevate the school experience to the highest standards for students in Malta and Gozo.

Included in these initiatives is the construction of a new school in Msida, which Prime Minister Robert Abela has just visited. During his visit, he observed the completion of the construction phase, marking the project’s progression into its final stages. This project involved demolishing the existing structure to make way for a new building that includes both educational facilities and recreational spaces, ensuring a well-rounded environment for student development.

The Msida project is not happening in isolation. Students in Nadur, Għaxaq, and Rabat are now attending newly renovated or completely rebuilt schools. Additionally, the completion of the Theatre Hall and Sports Complex in Santa Luċija marks significant progress in providing comprehensive educational facilities.

Upcoming projects include the first renovation phase at St George’s Primary School in Qormi and the start of new primary schools in Mosta and Mellieħa. In Rabat, Gozo, significant progress is being made with the construction of a new primary school and the extensive renovation of the middle school, representing an investment of over €21 million. These developments aim to be completed within the next few years, promising modern and well-equipped educational spaces for students and teachers.

Malta has made significant investments in education for this year and upcoming ones, reflecting a strong commitment to enhancing the educational sector and supporting students, educators, and families.

A National Skills Strategy

During his Budget Speech for this year, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana emphasised that the 2024-2030 National Education Strategy aims to enhance the infrastructure and quality of education in Malta. It presents a vision focused on well-being, skills, and inclusion to ensure sustained quality education.

Additionally, the National Skills Council is developing a National Skills Strategy. The Council, established last March, is focused on enhancing skill development, recognition, and validation to support a robust workforce. The Council aims to encourage a culture of lifelong learning, enabling individuals to adapt and thrive in the dynamic world of work.

One tablet per child

Malta’s One Tablet Per Child initiative is a government programme aimed at integrating digital learning tools into the educational system by providing tablets to students. The initiative has been extended this year, introducing a new phase where seventh-year students will receive laptops, enhancing digital learning and accessibility.

Stipends that reflect today’s realities

This year, student stipends will rise with the cost-of-living adjustment, adding €64 annually. The government plans to significantly boost stipends for specific courses critical to Malta’s economic growth, focusing on areas with a current shortage of professionals like primary school teachers and teachers in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). This strategy aims to support the nation’s economic transition by ensuring a well-trained workforce in essential sectors.

Support for low-income families

Parents receiving children’s allowance for children up to 16, or 18 for low-income families, will now get a special allowance if their child continues education after compulsory age. This support, part of the PL’s electoral manifesto, provides €500 yearly for three years for parents of full-time students living at home, benefiting initially 4,800 families, reaching nearly 15,000 in three years, with a total expense of €7.5 million. This initiative aims to assist parents in supporting their children’s continued education.

In addition, starting in 2022, Scheme 9 extended its support to 2,000 disadvantaged children, enhancing their educational experience with broader state assistance. Initially launched in the 2016/17 school year by the Education Ministry, the scheme aims to aid children facing economic and social challenges by offering options such as free uniforms, nutritious lunches, stationery, and participation in extra-curricular activities like SkolaSajf, along with age-appropriate books at no cost. Reflecting a commitment in the government’s work programme, these students are now receiving multiple forms of support.

Scholarships and tax credit programmes

This year, the Government plans to enhance Malta’s scholarship programmes and continue offering tax credits for students pursuing Master’s and Doctoral degrees through the ‘Get Qualified’ and ‘Higher Educational Qualifications’ schemes. Last year, these initiatives supported approximately 4,600 individuals, with a total funding of €8 million.

‘Get Qualified’ is an initiative by the Maltese government designed to encourage and facilitate further studies by providing tax credits for individuals pursuing higher education qualifications. The programme aims to enhance the participants’ skills and employability by incentivising education in areas critical to Malta’s economic and social development.

Support for sport education

The ‘Nurseries Attendance Scheme’ by SportMalta offers parents a tax rebate for children attending registered sport nurseries. Parents can claim up to €100 per child on their tax return for each child enrolled in a sport organisation’s training programme.

Starting from 2023, this amount has been increased to a maximum of €300. This scheme aims to support children’s participation in sports from a young age.

Research and Innovation

The Maltese government is set to introduce a National Strategy for Research and Innovation in Malta and Gozo, with increased funding this year. This includes a new Technology Extension Support programme and enhanced participation in Horizon Europe, benefiting 121 Maltese entities with over €31 million through 97 grants. Investment in Esplora aims to further STEM education.

Additionally, over €6 million has been allocated to the National STEM Community Fund and the FUSION programme, supporting 30 organisations last year via the Community Development and Innovation Scheme to enhance community well-being.

Techy summer camp

The European Commission’s report on the Digital Decade 2030 policy highlights Malta’s superior advancement compared to the European norm. Last year marked the debut of a Summer School and Bootcamp, supported by the Pathfinder and AI Applied Research Grant schemes, aiding postgraduate education.

According to the Budget Speech for this year, plans are in motion to continue these initiatives in 2024, underscoring a commitment to digital excellence and education.

These investments and measures are part of Malta’s broader strategy to enhance the quality of education, support students and families, and align the educational sector with the country’s strategic needs.

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