A realistic roadmap for education

We need to narrow the gap in students’ achievement and raise the bar in reading, literacy, mathematics and science among our students in primary and secondary school

There is general agreement that high-quality education is essential not only for our students' achievement but also for our economic and national development. That is why we consider this sector a priority. We value past achievements, recognise current and future challenges and needs, and propose a realistic and doable roadmap for the coming five years.

Our roadmap in education is realistic, focused and very much in line with the European Union 2020 agenda. Our roadmap addresses a number of worrying gaps that still persist in our schooling and education system. We need to narrow the gap in students' achievement and raise the bar in reading, literacy, mathematics and science among our students in primary and secondary school.

We are addressing major issues that emerge in families from different socioeconomic backgrounds to increase public confidence in our schools. Another need is to lower the rate of early school leavers and increase the number of our 16-year-olds who successfully conclude their post-secondary studies and eventually take up tertiary levels.

These are among the pressing and long-standing needs that inspire our commitment to an effective literacy and numeracy programme, the introduction and use of new technologies to facilitate assessment for learning, better working conditions for our teachers and school leaders, opportunities for career sabbaticals, a guarantee for our youth enrolling in education, training or work, the adequate provision of support services, a maintenance programme to ensure clean and decent schools and smaller classes and schools.

Through our roadmap for the coming five years we are committed to closing the gap between policy development, successful learning in our classrooms and students' achievement. We have a clear agenda to address an inherited, worrisome situation as indicated in a number of local reports (including the Year 3 survey in Maltese and English, the Year 6 End of Primary Benchmark examinations in Maltese, English and mathematics and the SEC and MATSEC reports) and international studies about literacy, science and mathematics (including the PISA study, PIRLS and TIMSS). We are committed to providing a high-quality education system for all our students through a number of initiatives, including relevant curricula and assessment for learning and attention to career paths and incentives for teachers. We will also be introducing vocational education in our secondary schools.

Our roadmap gives due importance to the development of policies in key areas, the quality of teaching and learning in classrooms, where they matter most, and to student achievement. We intend to close the gap between the intended and the actual curriculum and between policy and classroom learning. Throughout past years a spate of good policy documents did not translate into effective action to raise low achievement rates and high early-school-leavers rates among our students and address low teacher and school leader morale, a result of reform fatigue.

It is common sense that policy documents alone, though important, do not bring change and neither do they achieve the desired results unless there is a strategic implementation plan and an ambitious and achievable learning-outcomes framework.

We are proposing a number of measures that will provide a high-quality and relevant education experience for our students and satisfaction for our educators in their careers. Our roadmap proposes a comprehensive strategy for educational change that is coherent in its implementation, to provide the necessary support and resources and to be respectful of educators.

We propose a model of collaboration that brings together all stakeholders, including policymakers, academics, professional leaders and educators, people in business, union representatives, students and the community, in order to close the gap between policy, learning and outcomes.

Evarist Bartolo is Minister for Education

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When I was a boy the very vast majority of the people were poor, but there existed respect for order and the authorities especially the teaching fraternity. I remember that if there was an argument or even a fight the very mention of the Police arriving ensured that all hostilities stopped and every one sought refuge in their homes. Today we have criminals vaunting their convictions as if they have gained some university degree, teachers assaulted by pupils and their parents, police officers attacked even within the stations and disorder everywhere. It is time the Govt changed tha Laws to issue harsher and clear sentences against persons who harass or assault public officers in all walks of life so that the Courts have no option but to punish criminals who think they are above the Law without any leeway.
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Dear Minister. I am afraid the problem lies with the teachers, or rather their unions. For example: although the schools provide modern pedagogical books and teaching principles, the teachers insist on teaching from their own notes. This is of course wrong, but unfortunately teachers are untouchable thanks to militant and conservative unions who fail to look holistically on their members work, but choose to focus strictly on hours and pay. As long as this is the case, there will be no improvements.