Clifton Grima appointed education minister after Caruana resignation

Parliamentary secretary for youth and sports is appointed education minister five days after resignation of Justyne Caruana

Clifton Grima
Clifton Grima

Clifton Grima has been appointed Minister for Education and Sport following Justyne Caruana’s resignation last week.

Until last week, Grima was the parliamentary secretary responsible for sport, recreation and voluntary organizations.

Between June 2017 and January 2020 he similarly served as parliamentary secretary for youth, sport and voluntary organizations.

As part of the restructuring, the ministry for inclusion headed by Julia Farrugia Portelli will take over all youth and NGO responsibilities.

Justyne Caruana tendered her resignation as education minister on the back of an ethics breach in which she gifted a €15,000 contract to her partner Daniel Bogdanovic.

The damning report found that Bogdanovic was tasked to carry out a study of the sports school, a job he was unsuitable to do as he had no pedagogical training. Moreover, Hyzler found that the report, for which Bogdanovic was to be paid €15,000, was compiled by Paul Debattista, a consultant to the minister.

MaltaToday revealed details of the contract earlier this year. Bogdanovic was to be paid €15,000 for just three months' work on the national sports curriculum.

Unions welcome appointment, UPE warns on Fabri

The Malta Union of Teachers has since congratulated Grima for his appointment as Education and Sports Minister. In a statement, the union said it looks forward to working with Grima to the benefit of educators and students.

The Union of Professional Educators also welcomed Grima's appointment. "We hope to build a strong relationship after failing with various administrations due to the lack of social dialogue and common sense in industrial relations," the UPE said in a statement.

However, the UPE warned that Grima's ministry is "still shackled" by the presence of permanent secretary Frank Fabri, who the union said should be under police investigation for signing off on the Bogdanovic contract. "Unfortunately the Principal Permanent Secretary seems to be unwilling to suspend him based on the Public Service Commission Regulations that allow for his immediate suspension pending investigation."

The union is able and willing to work closely with the minister's new team to establish a solid working relationship, although it is aware that until Dr Fabri is still present the minister won’t be able to work properly," the UPE said.