Ministry opposes longer school hours plan
The Education Ministry disagrees with extending formal school hours to favour working parents, arguing that there are schemes in place that achieved the same results.
It said existing, formal after-school programmes, especially targeted for children with special needs, had the same effect.
The ministry was replying to questions by The Times following a proposal by the Malta Employers’ Association for the Government to lengthen the school day to encourage more parents to find jobs and work longer hours.
In its pre-Budget proposals, the MEA made the case to cater for working parents with children in primary and secondary schools. It also argued that childcare should be made affordable to encourage stronger female participation.
The Government, it said, should increase incentives to families wanting to avail themselves of childcare facilities.
But the Education Ministry disagreed with the proposal and said it was already implementing several measures, including after-school facilities, aimed at helping working parents.
A spokesman explained that Klabb 3–16 offered its services from the end of normal school hours until 6pm, during which three to 16-year-olds furthered their daily studies in a different environment under the care and supervision of trained and qualified personnel.
Students take up sports, art, music, crafts and cultural activities and are helped with their homework when necessary.
In the coming months, he said, Klabb 3-16 will be extended to 31 localities based in State schools.
Children attending Church and independent schools are also eligible to join.
With regard to childcare centres, which host children from three months, the spokesman said the Government had, over the years, extended financial and expert help to enable private centres reach the established standards.
Tax credits are given to parents who send their children to registered childcare centres.
“In the past few years, more than €7 million was invested in sports facilities in schools and these are made available to students and sports associations after school hours.
“The Malta Sports Council holds various after-school sports programmes for children in conjunction with the Directorate for Education Services.
“This measure also favours working parents, who can rest assured their children are in a safe environment, engaged in sports activities,” the spokesman said.