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evarist_bartolo
Evarist Bartolo

Giving a second chance

A run-through of the numerous policies introduced to Maltese youths, giving them a second chance and how the strategy has changed

evarist_bartolo
Evarist Bartolo
13 September 2017, 7:30am
Over the past four years we’ve introduced numerous policies that give our young people a second chance. Often, we have asked them to follow educational programmes which are very one-sided. They either pass or fail, and that shall be their fate. Often, a second chance was not possible or at the very least, one or two missteps resulted in a whole year to re-do.

We changed strategy on this, as it is our duty to give as many opportunities, and open as many doors, for our young people to continue in their education. One of the most effective second chances we’ve introduced is through EU funds and the Youth Guarantee – students who failed to get the result they wanted in their ‘O’ levels are given free revision classes during the summer months. These students spent the past weeks revising their coursework and did the resits over the past days. If we didn’t offer any classes some might have ended up finding a similar alternative in a private sector, but others would’ve missed out simply due to financial constraints. 

These classes are very important because they keep students tuned in to the system. One of the reasons why young people don’t continue in their education pathway is because they take a wrong step, and disconnect. They feel alone and disillusioned. 

We want them to remain ‘in the system’, so we can give them the necessary support and motivation. You might find a lot to criticise ‘in the system’ – God knows it’s not perfect. But we’ve made a lot of improvements and the structured process there is continuously improving. We’re widening the offerings at play, and choices are increasing for different pathways. This will continue over the coming years.

However we have not stopped at revision classes. We’ve strengthened the stipend system and today students face a much simpler process to get their stipend and grants. We’ve also given a second chance to those who are repeating one year, by allowing them to apply for a stipend during that year. This is important because it makes financial, economic and social sense to try every avenue to make sure young people continue studying. It makes no sense, even from an economic point of view let alone morally, to have them stop learning or up-skilling due to the financial limitations of the individual. 

"This is the future of our country. We can't build a modern nation without skilled workers"
Second chances also come in different forms. We’ve solidified our support structures across schools, especially at secondary level, to help children and young people in their path to become adults. Teachers face a tough environment in schools – some of the challenges they face are not easy and require a lot of support. Social challenges are real. However over the past four years we’ve invested a lot in human capital in this area and results are starting to appear. There’s a lot of work to do, but we’re getting there.

It is our moral duty to give all the opportunities and tools for our young people to succeed. We’re committed to help them, and second, third and fourth chances are there for the taking. Never have we had so many different educational opportunities available for everyone, not just the young.

We’re committed to do this because this is the future of our country. We can’t build a modern nation without skilled workers – and a prosperous living standard, nowadays, can’t be achieved without the right skills in place. We have made a lot of inroads and created many more avenues of potential, but at the end of the day an opportunity is only as valuable as what people make of it.

 

Evarist Bartolo is Minister of Education and Employment

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