Minister for Education and Employment Owen Bonnici visited ongoing restoration works on St Catherine’s Chapel in Gudja. The restoration works are being done by the Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) students following courses in masonry heritage skills.
Minister Owen Bonnici highlighted that these students are carrying out restoration works on several sites around Malta including St Catherine’s Chapel in Gudja. He said: “If we want to keep preserving our rich cultural heritage through careful restoration of historical sites, we also need to make sure that we have skilled persons to do this important work. Safeguarding heritage sites is also about safeguarding trades and ensuring that skills and techniques are learned by young people through hands-on learning.”
Minister Bonnici continued by saying: “This is why we will keep investing in quality vocational education and training. Education plays an important role in raising awareness on the importance of the preservation of cultural sites so that they can be enjoyed by generations to come. I encourge all those who are interested in commencing with such studies as it is a very fulfilling and satisfying career.”
MCAST Principal and CEO Joachim James Calleja said: “All our vocational courses offer students the opportunity to gain both practical and theoretical skills. The Construction Department within the Institute for Engineering and Transport offers courses that enable learners to take up a career in stone restoration. Lecturers guide our learners to participate in stone restoration interventions. Past projects include restoration work at St Philip’s Chapel in Senglea, St Augustine Convent in Rabat and the station in Birkirkara. This year’s projects include the stone restoration of iconic niches in several villages and collaboration with parishes and local councils. Students following these heritage skills courses can progress to the next level while learning recording techniques as well as cleaning and testing procedures.”
Minister Bonnici explained that MCAST offers courses in construction and heritage skills at various levels ensuring that young people are trained in the maintenance, protection and preservation of heritage sites. One of the ongoing projects is the restoration of the Chapel of St Catherine’s in Gudja, which was built in 1631. The present chapel replaced an older one which was built in 1562.
MCAST’s Institute for Engineering and Transport offers over fifty courses, and students can progress from entry-level courses to degree courses. The masonry heritage skills course within the Construction Department Higher Diploma in Masonry Heritage Skills (Kapumastru). The practical training is carried out in college-based workshops and on heritage sites.
MCAST will open the second call of applications for courses starting in October from 7 to 11 September.