Watch: After years of delays, Qawra school set to welcome students in September

Works on the long-awaited Qawra Primary School are finally nearing completion, with the school set to welcome its first students in the coming scholastic year.

The Qawra Primary School seeks to address overcrowding at the St Pauls Bay Primary School, which had been built before the locality experienced a population explosion. St Paul’s Bay is now Malta’s most populated-locality, with some 29,000 residents: its population in 1985 was just over 4,400.

The school was originally set to be built in a different part of Qawra, on an ODZ plot of land next to the Salini Park.

But eventually, plans shifted to a new site at the centre of Qawra, on 9,500 square metre site that forms part of a sizeable undeveloped – but within scheme – plot that had once been at the heart of a dispute between the government and GO. The plot had been controversially transferred to the telephony company when it was privatised, and the government eventually settled the dispute by granting the company title over various properties it operated in.

Deadline moved by 3 years

According to the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools’ 2015 annual report, the school was initially scheduled for completion in 2017, but ended up falling far short of the mark. By 2018, the FTS had moved the deadline to the the start of the 2019/20 scholastic year.

The agency blamed complications surrounding the tendering process for the delay. But at the time, the foundation had also been mired in controversy, with Edward Caruana, a former canvasser of then-Education Minister Evarist Bartolo, accused of soliciting bribes linked to FTS works on government schools.

The government continued maintaining that the school was set to open in September 2019 earlier that year, but ultimately, the project was delayed by another year.

This time, tragedy played a part: a 23-year-old Malian construction worker sustained critical injuries after falling four stories, and succumbed to his injuries in hospital. The ensuing magisterial inquiry forced the temporary closure of the construction site.

€13 million investment

But works are now at an advanced stage – the building looks all but complete, at least on the outside – and the FTS is now ready to state that children are set to enter the school in two months’ time.

The school comprises 39 classrooms for 500 children, a hall with a seating capacity of 400, as well as a kindergarten and childcare centre. The building also includes a 400-space underground car park.

The project came at a cost of €13 million, which have all come through national funds.