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Malta outshines EU with special needs students

Fewer than one per cent of students with special needs are segregated into special schools in Malta – far lower than the EU average.

Today’s people with special needs and their families are finding all the help they need

According to Eurostat figures, an average of 0.3 per cent attend schools for people with special needs in Malta, in contrast to an average 2.3 per cent in the EU, with the rest of disabled students fully integrated into main-stream education.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi yesterday inaugurated ‘Job Bridge’ – a personalised training service offered by the Employment and Training Corporation for people with special needs.

He said the Government had previously invested heavily in this sector so these people and their families were given the best possible help.

As well as the Early Intervention programme, in which 690 children participated last year and given extra help for their difficulties, the Government is employing some 4,000 Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) to make mainstream education possible for children who need extra attention.

According to government statistics, there are 2,800 children in State schools receiving the LSA service, while 900 children in Church schools and 120 in private education are also being provided with a publicly-funded LSA.

Dr Gonzi said that to continue supporting disabled people, the Government is committed to open educational resource centres in Ħamrun and Paola during the next legislature.

“We have given proof during the past years that we truly believe in integration. Today’s people with special needs and their families are finding all the help they need. We are committed to continue on this path as these people are at the centre of our social policy,” he said.

Dr Gonzi said the Government is also planning to increase its residential services for people with special needs beyond the 160 placements in 31 homes already available. A similar service will be developed in Gozo.

What is Job Bridge?

Job Bridge is a personalised service programme provided by the Employment and Training Corporation for people with special needs.

Students who have completed their education at the Wardija resource centre are given personalised, on-the-job training for as many weeks as necessary to help them integrate better in employment.

The course is given by professionals in various fields at a state-of-the-art centre opened by the ETC in Pembroke.

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