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European Commission report says that the early school leaving rate of Maltese students is the second highest in the EU.
13 November 2014, 1:06pm
This was revealed in the European Commission’s education and monitoring report for 2013, a report that highlights three main educational challenges for Malta.
“The early school leaving rate of Maltese students is 20.8%, the second highest rate in the EU,” Education Minister Evarist Bartolo said, citing the report. “Maltese students also tend to acquire less basic skills than other European students, and vocational training courses here need to be more in line with the demands of the work market.”
He also said that only 26% of Maltese people go to university, lower than the EU average, while the EU targets are for these figures to climb to 30% by 2020.
However, Bartolo said that the report largely placed a positive light on education in Malta.
“The 2014 budget increased government expenditure by 8.5% when compared to 2013, and the government’s expenditure on education as a share of the GDP is 5.9%, higher than the EU average,” Bartolo said.
With regards Malta’s high early-school leavers (defined by the EU as people with a lower secondary education or less who are no longer in education or training), Bartolo said that the government “ambitiously” plans to reduce Malta’s current figures by half, to 10% by 2020. He mentioned measures such as the Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan and a programme that provides alternative education to fifth-form students who do not wish to sit for their O-levels. With regards teritary education, Bartolo said that the government is spending €5.5 million on scholarship schemes for Masters' courses.
He also said that an EU-funded study that will assess the syllabi in primary and secondary schools should be completed by the end of 2015.
Teachers’ union president Kevin Bonello had criticised the Curia’s role in designing religion syllabi in roles, saying that religion syllabi are full of “useless details”.
“The Curia, through the initiative of Rene Camilleri, recently took the initiative to review the teaching material of religion in schools and I am pleased with the work they performed,” Bartolo said.
A signed agreement between Malta and the Vatican in 1989 gives the Maltese Conference of Bishops the authority to design the religion syllabi in state schools.
When asked whether the government had plans to change this agreement, Bartolo said that it is “not on their agenda”.
Tim Diacono is a journalist at MaltaToday
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