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evarist_bartolo
Evarist Bartolo

Partner Schools: qualified and skilled

The ultimate aim of this initiative is to strengthen the provision of vocational education in schools through the achievement of the vocational diploma at an earlier age at secondary level

evarist_bartolo
Evarist Bartolo
15 February 2017, 8:00am
For far too long we have been confusing qualifications with skills. You can have people who are qualified but unskilled and vice versa
For far too long we have been confusing qualifications with skills. You can have people who are qualified but unskilled and vice versa
I have often spoken in favour of the importance of the need to provide an educational experience that gives us the skills, competences, knowledge, character and learning to be able to solve problems in the real world. I do not like the distinction made between academic and vocational education as if the first is superior to the second. For me the distinction that makes sense is between good quality and mediocre education.

A good quality education not only enriches you with the knowledge to understand but also gives you the skills and competences to use that knowledge, to do something with that knowledge. Formal schooling that is cut off from the real world is weak and ineffective. It might help you pass formal tests and exams and get you the certification awarded but that does not guarantee you that you have the necessary skills, knowledge, values and competence to be effective in the real world, in society, at the workplace.

For far too long we have been confusing qualifications with skills. You can have people who are qualified but unskilled and vice versa. We need our people to be both qualified and skilled. Words alone are not enough and we have taken another step in addressing this issue by launching a new project that presents the concept of MCAST partnering with a state secondary school, with the participation of local industry.

This project, initiated by the Ministry for Education, will bring together MCAST, St Benedict College and a number of companies, leaders in their respective fields. Through partner schools, MCAST will provide new programmes to secondary school students in engineering and in information technology (IT). Eventually, we hope to spread and provide this concept to other schools and colleges around Malta and Gozo.

So far, vocational programmes in schools lead only to SEC certification. Through this programme, we will be introducing more vocational modules and upon completion, students can achieve and obtain a Level 3 diploma from MCAST before leaving compulsory education.

The ultimate aim of this initiative is to strengthen the provision of vocational education in schools through the achievement of the vocational diploma at an earlier age at secondary level. This will prepare students to continue studying vocational at higher levels at MCAST or to enter the world of employment equipped with the skills outlined in the New Skills Agenda 2020.

Subject teachers in vocational IT and vocational engineering together with MCAST tutors will adapt and develop diploma content modules that are suitable for secondary school students.

This project cannot achieve the desired success without the help of local industry. A number of companies will make available human and physical resources so that active learning will take place at the place of work when necessary. This partnership will provide job exposure and a hands-on learning experience for students in IT and engineering.

Once compulsory education age is reached, students will have the option to continue studying VET at an advanced level 4 diploma or to enter the world of employment equipped with the necessary skills. The MCAST ‘partner school’ project, started at St Benedict College, should provide an annual group of around 25 students in IT and Engineering, respectively accredited with a full level 3 diploma at the end of the secondary school cycle.

It is often said that “the main purpose of education is to open up the mind of students and prepare them to face the real world”. Through this project, we are bringing education and employment closer together and ensuring the relevance to the real world of what happens inside the classroom and school.

Evarist Bartolo is Minister of Education and Employment

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