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MALTATODAY 28 November 2021

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12 NEWS maltatoday | SUNDAY • 28 NOVEMBER 2021 JAMES DEBONO MALTA'S Italian community is officially the largest cohort of foreign learners in the islands' schools, with their number in- creasing by 16% between 2017 and 2019. Malta had 1,109 Italians at- tending school in 2019, of which 721 were in kindergarten or primary schools. Their presence reflects the growing Italian population in Malta over the last decade, at- tracted to the islands by grow- ing job opportunities. But the inclusion of Italian children in the Maltese school system has been conditioned by difficulties in effectively communicating in Maltese and English, which has a negative impact on their active partici- pation in class, even during les- sons of Italian itself. Code-switching and mixing between Maltese and English, both in teacher-talk and during interactions between students, has presented additional chal- lenges for Italian students. A study by educators Sandro Caruana and Mario Pace pub- lished in the Malta Review of Educational Research sourced data from 27 teachers of Ital- ian and education officers, and interviews included in a recent dissertation on the experience of Italian students in Maltese schools by T. Palazzo. "Although their experience in Maltese schools is general- ly positive, there are instances where adapting to a new edu- cational system is the cause of demotivation, which leads to absenteeism, as well as other cases where they are victims of bullying," the authors said. Their integration is crucial considering that since most of them are very young, "one can assume that quite a number of them will remain in Malta for a large portion of their life." Support from cultural media- tors, professional figures which are still absent within the Mal- tese educational system, was urgently required to facilitate the integration of a growing number of Italian students, the academics said. Currently this task is being un- dertaken by teachers and LSEs who speak Italian and some- times intervene to help Italian learners feel more welcome, es- pecially during the initial stages of their schooling in Malta. This is considered especially impor- tant since the local education- al system differs considerably from the Italian one While Italians feel includ- ed 'most of the time', a lack of knowledge of Maltese and to lesser extent English still con- stitutes a barrier. "They feel included most of the time. However, at times, students speak in Maltese amongst each other and the Italian students do not under- stand so they cannot fully in- teract with them," a teacher of Italian reported. Italians facing integration problems in schools Italians studying in Malta report a positive experience but difficulty in communicating in Maltese poses an obstacle to integration with some preferring to stay in groups with other foreigners or Italian counterparts. Qawra lido excavation: six months to clear debris JAMES DEBONO THE AX project replacing its three Qawra lidos to make way for a 220-space car park will involve the excavation of over 40,400 cubic metres of rock. A total of 71,000cb.m of ex- cavated material will be pro- duced by the commercial de- velopment of the Seashells, Luzzu and Sunny Coast lidos. Excavation is expected to take place over four months, with seven to 13 truckloads a day taking out debris. The visually-imposing de- velopment will see parts of the 13,000sq.m coastline re- habilitated. The project will have five food outlets at street level, together with conference fa- cilities and retail spaces, pi- azzas and gardens. A number of African tamarix trees, fig trees and pine trees will be replanted in the redeveloped site. Another two restaurants and conference facilities will be at mezzanine level, and other conference facilities will be placed at the lido area. AX Group says the develop- ment will improve the area's character, last built as a lido in the 1980s, with particular attention given to the way the sea-wall looks from the sea, using adequate materials and colours. Concrete accretions bordering the Sunny Coast lido will be removed and the rocky coast rehabilitated. A project statement from ADI Consultants recom- mends careful consideration of lighting to minimise distur- bance to seabirds in the area. Works in the 1980s had al- ready resulted in the destruc- tion of salt pans in the area. The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage said any remnants uncovered in exca- vations would be too damaged to preserve.

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