No shades of grey

When can our young citizens be taught to use their mind and be critical of everything they see around them?

My New Year’s resolution is to completely ignore the many ridiculous reactions of political ‘stories’ or news on the social media. I do this, not because I do not like sane discussions about everything on earth and beyond, but in order to protect my sanity.

Not one day passes without my realising that there are so many people in Malta that, from a political point of view, only see in monochrome – just black and white without any grey shades, let alone the other colours. I cringe when I realise that the idiots who think one side is always right and the other is always wrong have a vote just like me and any Tom, Dickie or Henriette.

They also think that the best way of defence is to show that the other side is as guilty, by citing some instances which hardly bear any resemblance to what they are trying to defend. Defending what is patently wrong does not reflect any intelligence. It is simply a sign of premature submission.

Do these people really think that their side is always right and that the other side is always wrong? What sort of educational process have they gone through if it has not trained them to be critical of anything?

This is the sorriest result of our education system – critical thinking is a no-no and students have to accept anything as told. Efforts to instill a critical attitude in our young citizens are few and far between, if any.

The Prime Minister has appointed the fourth minister responsible for education in this five-year legislature. This reflects badly on the Prime Minister who seems to think that the education portfolio is just a vacancy that has to be somehow filled – with policy and vision not being an issue. Consequently, any of these appointees who really wanted to do the job well and had a vision on how to shake our system to educate our children – in the true sense of the word – did not even have a chance to do it. In actual fact, no one knows what vision for the sector the last three appointees had. Probably zilch.

Evarist Bartolo had already been education minister in the previous legislature and he did what he could do. One does not expect new ground-breaking measures from a minister being given a second term with the same responsibilities. That is why, I believe, no minister should be given the same portfolio for a second term.

Education has again fallen into the doldrums with no new ideas, with the government being satisfied if the number of students failing to learn how to read and write decrease.

Long, long ago when I was responsible for education for some two years or so, I tried to shake the system and took some decisions to put the system on the right track. So much so, that – as far as I can think – none were reversed by the succeeding ministers from both parties. Some were taken up and improved upon, but not reversed.

Yet the important aim of teaching our young people to be critical rather than to acquiesce has remained elusive.

The older teachers are only interested in their pay, which they expect to be increased while they keep teaching in the same way for decades. Young teachers today do encourage students to question what they are told and to think rather than follow. But by doing this they go against the grain. The old mindset that pupils and students should just follow and accept whatever they are told is still there. We have not shaken it off.

As a result of this system, the crass belief that “my party is always right and the other party is always wrong” extends to ridiculous lengths. Facebook has become a living reflection of this situation.

Unfortunately, one even sees Univesrity and MCAST students who just plod on ‘studying’ what they are taught – sometimes parrot-like – to reach their degree or diploma without even casting an eye at the world around them. I leave it to one’s imagination to consider what sorts of professionals or technical people are produced in this manner.

Meanwhile, the numbers of students who take part in student politics or student activities are by far too low for my liking. If this is the situation in higher education, one wonders what is happening at the primary and secondary levels.

When can our young citizens be taught to use their mind and be critical of everything they see around them?

Only then can the country get rid of the idiots who do not see any shades of grey.

MTA gets sillier

When I thought that the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) could not get any sillier, it managed to go one even worse.

The Minister for Tourism and the CEO of MTA had their moment of ‘glory’ on Boxing Day when they presented a cheque for €50,000 to the annual television marathon collection in aid of the Community Chest Fund!

It seems that this ‘donation’ was from money allocated by the government for tourism. Surely it cannot be used in this way. Accusations that this was what actually happened were never refuted.

On the social media, some correctly called this ‘generosity’ with its correct name: misappropriation. And misappropriation of public money is a crime.

This is madness gone even more insane with the minister responsible for tourism and the MTA CEO being broadcast on the main Maltese television stations while actually breaking the law, and the financial regulations in order to get some ill-conceived kudos that they do not deserve.

The ministry of finance is obliged to stop this nonsense and reverse the ‘donation’.

The President has been unjustly criticised for signing the controversial law on cannabis use for recreational purposes. He was correct in that he had no alternative, other than resigning to avoid signing the bill into law. His so-called ‘duty’ is just a legal formality in our Constitutional system.

However, as head of the Malta Community Chest Fund, the President is obliged to refuse this illegal ‘generosity’ and His Excellency should send MTA and the responsible minister to blazes.

Otherwise he would be participating in this incredibly audacious breaking of the law.