The best societies of today are those that possess rudimentary democratic consent, freedom, liberty, equality and fairness, environmental sustainability and robust economies. However, none of these can be obtained without a proper and strong educational system, as it is of paramount importance to an individual as well as to society. Since at the end of the day money and impressive statistics do not build a nation, but the education of children and youths do so that they grow to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Unfortunately, despite some progression over the years, the educational system in Malta has the potential to become so much better than it actually is, but the absence of proper ideas to improve the way education is done to severely lessen the number of school leavers, together with the lack of solutions in dealing with the problem of limited local teachers, is resulting in no proper long term vision for our country.
The reality of the situation is that Malta has one of the highest incidences of youth dropping out of education in the EU, and this is all in spite of the system’s high level of equitable access to education at all levels. Just by reading this statement, partially taken from the Social Justice in the EU Index Report, one stops to ponder that this in itself is most definitely problematic and that something is completely wrong with our system. Simply put the education system in Malta from secondary to post-secondary level discourages students to study. The reasons for this being that the students are too pressured and stressed to perform to the best of their abilities due to the high amount of weekly homework and tests they are bombarded with coupled with the lack of practical and real-life experiences when learning, which could aid them throughout their academic year.
Moreover, a look at efficient systems that other countries such as Finland, Japan, South Korea and Denmark use to educate their students, enables us to clearly identify what needs to be improved here in Malta. Besides that, it offers free education to citizens with no dead ends, just like Malta, there are certain core principles underlying the education system of Finland. Their early education system is laid around the concept of learning through play. They provide basic education when the child turns 7, and for the next nine years, they follow a single structure education, while also taking special steps to revise and revamp their curriculum to meet the needs of each individual. Furthermore, a welfare team in each school lookout for the children by sending them out to play for 15 minutes, at least four times a day, while additionally, they relatively give little homework and have only one mandatory test at 16. The Finnish National Agency for Education also promotes a competent self-evaluation for both teachers and schools to help them become better. Moreover, teachers have the autonomy to decide on their own teaching methods and strategies, which highlights how the government invests heavily in them unlike her in Malta, while they also guide students to use new technologies such as digital learning materials. The Finnish people value their education, as the concept of equality makes sure that the weaker pupils catch up in life, which therefore prevents school shopping to occur, as all the schools are equally strong which ensures that all students receive the same level of education. This has resulted in the country becoming a top performer on every program for the International Student Assessment Survey while the teachers to student ratio and the number of passing students in primary and secondary schools enabled them to top the ranking list.
As can be seen such proud ambition from Finland to ensure that children get the right quality of education is resulting in highly educated citizens. The current situation we have presented with the Covid-19 pandemic obviously doesn’t help the students to engage with their teachers in the best way, however, the numerous disagreements between the education ministry and MUT lately aren’t encouraging either, as there is no strong united front to tackle the educational problems in our country. On top of that, no one should be proud to have a minister, who is overseeing the education in our country, as someone who showed complete disrespect towards the death of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia while acting as justice minister, added to the fact that he has no previous experience in the field of education. The fact that education doesn’t get prime importance over other issues when it comes to presenting the country’s vision for tomorrow is very concerning since after all an educated society builds a better economy and results in a cleaner and mature politics.
Additionally, relying less on foreign nationals to come work in Malta to cater for the economy, when we have the opportunity to replace them with local talent, may potentially fix the Prime Minister’s problem of Malta being ‘full up’. This long-term strategy, lacking in our country today, may reduce the pressure on the development industry which may then result in a more promising future for our safeguarding of the environment. Hence no impressive economic statistics, budget surpluses or money from passport sales will result in encouraging critical thought unless a change in the education system takes place.
Written by: Matteo Muscat Filletti
(This article was originally posted on civilsocietymt.com)
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