Recommendations not implemented: The Ombudsman and the Commissioner for Education send report to the House of Representatives

In terms of Article 22(4) of the Ombudsman Act, the Ombudsman Mr Anthony C. Mifsud and the Commissioner for Education, Chief Justice Emeritus Vincent A. De Gaetano, have sent to the House of Representatives the Final Opinion on a complaint lodged by three individuals who manage specialised schools.

The education authorities did not implement the recommendations made by the Commissioner for Education (the late Mr Charles Caruana Carabez) in January 2020. The Ombudsman and the Commissioner brought the case to the Prime Minister’s attention in August 2020 and again last February. Since no action has been taken, the Ombudsman and the Commissioner sent the report to the House of Representatives for its attention. 

The Commissioner had issued his Final Opinion on 6 January 2020.  In it he recommended that the complainants were to be placed in Grade 5, assume the title of ‘Head of School’, that the special schools be given an administrative infrastructure like that of all other schools, and that the complainants’ salary be adjusted.

Summary of the Case

The three complainants, who manage specialised schools, claim that their duties are similar in all effects to those of a Head of School, but they are listed as ‘Centre Co-Ordinators’ and are consequently deprived of the pay, allowances and infrastructural support which are the entitlement of Grade 5 Heads of Schools. The population of their schools vary between 500 and 1300 students.

The then Commissioner wrote to the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry for Education (then MEDE) on 30 September 2019, intimating to him that he was not at all happy with the attitude displayed by MEDE in regard to complainants who, he felt, were not being given their due as a result of an unorthodox label given to them (Centre Co-Ordinators rather than Heads of School) and that this, given their responsibilities, working conditions and human resources, constituted discrimination resulting in injustice.

The Commissioner pointed out that Colleges consisted of Schools managed by Heads and directed by a Principal, and that these special schools formed part of Colleges but without being called schools; he pointed out, moreover, that the ‘Centre-Co-Ordinators’ received, like Heads of Schools, their annual bonus after endorsement by the Principal, and that this further substantiated their argument and exacerbated the anomalous condition of the complainants.

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