Education Minister Justyne Caruana has skirted questions in Parliament about her ministry’s reaction to an incident last week in which a three-year-old school girl was not dropped off at her destination and forgotten in the van she was in.
Last week Lovin Malta revealed that the story of a three-year-old child who was meant to be taken to an after-school club using school transport. However, the girl never ended up at Klabb 3-16 in Ħamrun, and instead found herself trapped in the school’s garage.
The girl’s mother said her daughter had been stuck in the van for hours, though the bus company has insisted that it was no longer than 30 minutes.
The minister was asked a series of questions by the Opposition’s education spokesperson Clyde Puli, who asked the minister whether she could guarantee that there is adequate supervision on school transport.
Puli also asked the minister for the number and type of inspections that had been carried out over the past three years.
Caruana was also asked what was being done to ensure that a similar incident did not repeat itself.
Since publishing the story, several parents have reached out to Lovin Malta to say that they too had experienced similar incidents with their children on the school bus.
In a short reply, Caruana said that “as soon as she found out about the case the necessary steps were taken, including the appointment of a board of inquiry”.
When the ministry launched its free school transport scheme back in 2018, it pledged that all vans would be supervised, however, the latest incident suggests that this was never implemented.
Adequate supervision on vans is essential, both to avoid incidents such as this one, but also to prevent bullying or other accidents that could happen. There have also been several cases of child abuse reported over the years.
This is especially true when considering that some of the children are as young as three.
Lovin Malta reached out to the ministry following the incident to ask about the supervision, with a spokesperson simply saying that a “board set up on the minister’s instructions will establish all the facts”.
Pressed further on whether this meant that there was in fact no supervision, the spokesperson provided no response.
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