Early childhood and school education funding
Financial Autonomy and Control
Education is considered a basic pillar of the Government’s priorities. Indeed the Maltese Government is investing heavily in education because it strongly believes that an educated workforce is the only way for the country to remain a competitive investment destination. Furthermore the Government believes that education and training are instrumental in supporting upward social mobility.
Funding of Early Childhood Education and Care
In April 2014 the Government initiated the Free Childcare for All scheme whereby children of parents who are both in employment or in education are provided with free childcare irrespective of their financial means. The primary aims of this scheme are twofold:
- For all children to be provided with equitable early childhood education and care irrespective of their parents’ financial means and social background;
- To increase the active participation of females in the labour market.
As at November 2014, a total of 77 childcare centres, spread all over the Maltese Islands, were participating in this scheme and a total of in excess of 3,600 registrations for childcare attendance were received and processed. It is estimated that 40% of the cohort of children between the ages of three months and three years will be in childcare by April 2018 as compared to just 19% of the cohort in April 2013. In 2014 the Government has invested a total of EUR 5.2 million for the realisation of this scheme.
The resources necessary for the teaching and learning programmes run in kindergarten centres, including all consumable material, are provided to pre-primary pupils free of charge. Pupils diagnosed as having Special Educational Needs are assigned a Learning Support Assistant (LSAs) to support them. This service is also available to pupils attending both grant-aided church schools and private schools.
Education is also provided for free for EU and EEA students whose parents have a Permanent Residency Permit as well as for children of third country nationals who possess long-term residency permits, children of persons who have been granted refugee status in Malta, children of persons who are asylum seekers as regulated by the Reception of Asylum Seekers (Minimum Standards) Regulations (LN 320 of 2005) (Appendix 7) or displaced minors in terms of the Temporary Protection for Displaced Persons (Minimum Standards) Regulations (LN 131 of 2005) (Appendix 8).
Exemption from the payment of fees may be partial and the percentage of fees from which the applicant is exempted is determined by the Exemptions Board which is appointed by the Minister of Education. Such applicants need to re-apply once every year before the start of the school year. Non-EU students and children wishing to attend state schools but who are not covered by the conditions mentioned above are required to pay tuition fees.
Funding of Primary Education
Free primary education is provided to pupils attending state primary schools. Free transport to and from school is also provided if the school is located more than 1.6 km away from home. Textbooks and other resources related to the primary curriculum, such as resources for science or art lessons, are also provided without any fee.
In the agreement between the Holy See and Malta on Church Schools signed in November 1991 and ratified in February 1993, the Government of Malta committed itself to forward a financial contribution to Church Schools in the Dioceses of Malta and Gozo. The salaries of all teaching grades, including heads and assistant heads of school, teachers, kindergarten assistants and learning support assistants, together with the salaries of all support services staff, are covered by this government contribution. This contribution is payable to the Commission for Education of the Episcopal Conference.
It is the practice for parents whose children attend a church school to be asked to give an annual school donation on a voluntary basis, which contribution goes towards the amelioration of school amenities such as libraries, laboratories and sport facilities. Parents of children attending Church schools need to purchase all the necessary school resources including textbooks.
As from 2012, the Government also introduced a scheme called the ‘Assistance to Church and Independent Schools related to Capital Expenditure in the Implementation of the Reform regarding the Transition from Primary to Secondary School’ whereby these schools can benefit from a 15.25% grant on all expenditure of a capital nature that are incurred by the schools to upgrade or enlarge their premises. This scheme, which is set to be operative until the end of 2017, is aimed at ensuring that all students benefit from reforms currently being implemented in Malta’s education system.
Parents whose children attend private schools in the independent sector pay fees that are determined by the school. Such parents also purchase all the necessary resources related to learning. However, the Government provides these parents with tax rebates.
In the Budget Speech for 2015 the Minster for Finance announced a new measure whereby parents whose children make use of public transport facilities for them to go to school will benefit from a tax rebate of EUR 150 per annum.
A three-year EUR 3 million grant scheme was launched in 2012 aimed at supporting independent schools to invest in technological equipment, infrastructure and teachers’ professional development. Independent schools applying for such grants and presenting evidence of progress in the specific areas related to the scheme are allocated EUR 95 for every child in kindergarten, EUR 145 for every primary student and EUR 170 for every child in secondary education.
Funding of Secondary (and Upper Secondary) Education
General education at secondary and upper secondary level is provided free of charge for students in state schools. Furthermore all students attending general post-compulsory education courses, in both public and private institutions, receive a maintenance grant partly in the form of a Smart Credit Card and the other part in four-weekly payments. The grant of EUR 233 is deposited in the card at the beginning of every school year. Students also receive a maintenance allowance of EUR 85.45 every four weeks for the duration of their programme of studies.
|Track being followed by students||Stipend received|
|1. MC track: MATSEC Certificate: subjects studied normally include two at Advanced Level, three at Intermediate Level; Systems of Knowledge and one optional Ordinary Level subject.||Smart Card with EUR 233; EUR 85.45 every four weeks|
|2. AIO track: students study a range of subjects at Advanced, Intermediate and Ordinary Level.||Smart Card with EUR 233; EUR 85.45 every four weeks|
|3. SEC track: students study a range of Ordinary Level subjects by following one of these three tracks:|
|EUR 85.45 every four weeks:|
(lump sum of EUR 233)
|EUR 42.80 every four weeks;|
(lump sum of EUR 116)
|EUR 21.40 every four weeks:|
(lump sum of €58)
Students following vocational education and training at licensed institutions such as the Malta College of Arts Science and Technology (MCAST) and the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS) also receive maintenance grants depending on the type of courses or training schemes they join.