A majority of students will benefit from free transport – 829 students still awaiting allocation
The majority of Church and Private Schools students may rest assured that from Monday they will be using free school transport. However, there are still 830 students who are waiting to be allocated a transport operator.
Education Minister Evarist Bartolo said the Government is committed to provide solutions to ensure that all students will have free transport. He said that work is ongoing to provide the remaining 830 students from Church and Private Schools with free transport.
The Minister said he is concerned that not all students have been catered for but endeavours will continue have the provision made for the remaining 830 that have so far not been provided. Contacts between parents and operators are ongoing but the number of operators has yet to increase for the service to be completely covered.
He insisted the Government is committed to provide a solution in the shortest time possible. He said his Ministry has followed through its commitment and the number of operators has risen from the original 19 to the current 75 who will be providing the service.
Evarist Bartolo pointed out that although the Ministry is not logistically responsible for the provision of transport to Church and Private Schools, all the necessary help is being given to parents and the schools to ensure the service is provided.
He said that operators or coordinators are working on behalf of schools to finalise their routes. The Ministry is being provided with details, including the numbers of confirmed children on each route. This phase has yet to be finalised.
The Minister said that as from this scholastic year his Ministry will gradually introduce a supervisory service on Government schools’ transport.
He said it had been decided not to try and do everything at once but to take the introduction of the whole system step by step. The start-up will be a supervisor with a van or a coach where there are three or four-year-old children and this will be the first step. Later, step-by-step, the electronic system will also be introduced.
The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Frank Fabri appealed for cooperation in the directing and management of traffic as plans have been agreed between different ministries as traffic will obviously increase with the start of the school year and during different times of the day.
The Nationalist Party said the Government had lingered in its preparations to provide free schools’ transport. In a statement, the Opposition Spokesperson for Education, Clyde Puli, said the fact that there are still 830 students yet to be provided with transport shows a lack of serious Government planning when the school year is due to commence in four days’ time. Puli also noted that there is still no agreement for the provision of supervision on school transport.