Malta’s teachers protest over school pastizzi ban

Teachers have told 89.7 Bay that new rules banning pastizzi in Malta’s schools are ‘ridiculous’ and ‘draconian’.

The country’s biggest teaching union called on its members to take industrial action after Malta’s favourite snack was outlawed as part of a new healthy eating policy.

The Ministry of Education in Floriana ordered pastizzi to be taken off the menu at school Christmas parties this week in a bid to tackle Malta’s growing obesity crisis.

Childhood nutrition experts even prepared a handy guide of ‘food ideas to be served during school functions’.

The list said soft drinks should be replaced by still water or tea.

Schools were also told to serve healthy wraps, fruit and wholemeal bread rather than allowing pupils to eat doughnuts, cakes and sausage rolls at Christmas parties.

However, the Malta Union of Teachers hit out at the healthy-eating regime.

It accused education chiefs of introducing the strict rules ‘in an unacceptable manner’, and claimed that they were ‘imposed without any consultation’ and would lead to extra work which was unfair on school staff.

Teachers in all of Malta’s schools were ordered:

  • not to communicate at all with the health authorities
  • not to receive visits or inspections in schools
  • not to take part in any initiatives with the health authorities
  • not to check food consumed by pupils
  • to completely ignore the list of food to be given to children during Christmas parties

The directives from the MUT come despite shocking figures showing the number of obese children in Malta’s schools is higher than ever.

Research discovered a staggering four of out 10 children in Malta, aged between three and 16, were overweight for their age.

In a statement, the Ministry of Education said: ‘The health and education authorities have been on the forefront with initiatives to support children’s health and to encourage a healthy school environment.

‘One of the measures that has been ongoing over the past two years, was the type of food sold from tuck shops which had to be healthy.

‘Food provided by parents is not included in this legislative measure although parents are always encouraged to provide a healthy lunch.

‘Meetings were held with principals, heads of schools and tuck shop providers to explain the legislation.

‘At no stage teachers were expected to check on any food supplied.

‘To be in line with the legislation, suggestions were provided on what type of foods can be procured.’