The Department of Education will not renew an English-language program offered by the Anglophone Union after the entity’s financial request ballooned to €411,000.
ESU has been providing spoken English lessons in primary schools in Zabbar and Valletta for more than a decade, under a contract worth €40,000 per year.
But it seems that the educational authorities were not too impressed with the results obtained and decided to interrupt the contract when the requested sum exploded.
The education authorities’ decision was criticized in a Facebook post by ESU, which described its program as a “game changer” that has helped “hundreds of students excel”.
Contacted by MaltaToday, a spokesman for the Department of Education defended the decision, saying ESU’s latest request was for €411,000 over a three-year period, which was “far above the contracts allocated until the last school year”.
ESU’s request was to expand the program to at least 11 schools, but the ministry has questioned the educational results of the program over the years.
“The ‘Arm of Support’ program has been running at Żabbar Primary School A since 2009 and the statistics available to the department over time, including literacy assessment, final exam results year and benchmark exams, show no particular improvement in the use of the English language by students who participated in this program,” the spokesperson said.
He said an evaluation showed that students who participated in this program remained at the same level as their peers who did not.
“The ministry strongly believes in the skills of its educators and entrusts them with the teaching of English at all levels, even spoken English,” the spokesperson said.
He compared the program to the “privatization of spoken English teaching”, adding that if the ministry intended to outsource such a service, it would issue a public tender in accordance with procurement regulations. . “The requested sum would require a public appeal,” the spokesperson said.
The English Union of Malta is an educational charity affiliated with a UK-based organization, which aims to broaden and deepen the use of English through debates and oral sessions.
On its Facebook wall, ESU (Malta) states that its aim is “to ensure that Maltese people are able to maintain both Maltese and English as strong languages and so maintain and enhance this advantage economic”.
The NGO offered educational activities to children aged three to six in two public primary schools and organized debates and workshops in all sixth graders to encourage better use of the English language.