As its initial reaction to the budget speech, the Malta Union of Teachers stated that it is disappointed that urgent needs of educators in schools are once again not mentioned. The MUT was expecting that these concerns, which also emerged in recent studies conducted by both the Union and the Government, would be a priority for the Government. One such concern is the lack of necessary human resources support to cope with administrative and other bureaucratic aspects in schools. In fact, studies revealed more than 90% Heads of Schools take up most of their time on endless bureaucratic tasks instead of carrying out curricular leadership at their schools. Furthermore, human resources are sorely needed in both Primary and Secondary schools. While various graduate teachers are ending up unemployed or employed in areas for which they did not study, most teachers in both state and church schools are maxed out on loads. The Union is already predicting that some schools will be hit by a crisis once winter sets in and it brings with it a load of sickness. The budget speech also fails to provide support of on call personnel for kindergartens and LSAs address, with the result that when there are kindergarten assistants and learning support assistants absent, children might have to be sent home.
Meanwhile, the MUT welcomes a number of measures announced in the budget including the earlier screening of children so that special needs are identified and support provided at an early stage, the extension of sabbatical leave and the roll-out of the tablets project in 2016. Also, at last new laptops will be provided to teachers, LSAs and Kindergarten Assistants in the coming months.
With regards to MCAST, the MUT acknowledges the continual infrastructural upgrades. However, the budget fails to address an acute overpopulation problem at the institute of art and design which is over populated by 400 students. This overpopulation is causing huge problems in logistics and organisation but worse than this legal parameters in laboratories and workshops are not being respected, putting both lecturers and students at risk. Meanwhile, it is good to note that after three years of promises and uncertainty at last the details of the new ITS campus are known. Infrastructural work, extensions and the building of new schools are also welcomed by the Union.
With regards to the University of Malta, the MUT welcomes the developments on Quality Assurance which will inevitably increase the various aspects of quality of the institution. The MUT also agrees with adding value to research by increasing administration assistance. Also, the stipends for mature students are a positive measure that will increase lifelong education.
In conclusion, the MUT is very disappointed that the Government has increased the amount of pensionable years from 40 to 41. The Union stated that this is an indirect measure to increase pensionable age.
The Union will be issuing more comments once it has more information on the education vote.