Laying the foundation for tomorrow’s education?

Having one strategy for all educational initiatives allows everyone to focus on specific areas wherever the needs arises

The introduction of free childcare is one of the most important policies of this government because it will have a wide affect on society.

Most importantly, it exposes children of a very young age to a well-planned educational experience. This is crucial when research shows that the influences in the first 1,000 days of a child can be fundamental in his or her development. What we learn from other countries is that children exposed to such educational experiences have an advantage over those who don't, allowing them to absorb important learning concepts.

Through this initiative we are helping parents who want to study as well as those seeking employment. The pledge has been extended to those fathers and mothers who want to learn and improve their lives. They will be free to continue their studies, gaining the fulfilment that comes from education, while giving their careers a boost too.

For many parents this initiative is about allowing them to seek out employment, or return to work. Women will have to opportunity to earn and, most importantly, they will benefit from a productive and dynamic working life and the chance to further their careers.

This will give some breathing space to middle class families who have been forking out substantial sums for childcare. The investment is considerable - €4 million is the initial allocation for this scheme. I'd like to thank the Ministry for Finance, the Jobs + team and the private sector for their considerable help in making the April launch of this initiative a reality.

This is an exciting time for Malta. We are taking a big step that will be good for families, good for education and good for the economy. And we will be taking the lead, showing other countries what is possible.

The building blocks for tomorrow

Another major policy unveiled this week was the framework for the educational strategy. This framework aims to group the different areas of education and employment (from a training aspect) into a single ten-year strategy. Having one strategy for all educational initiatives allows everyone to focus on specific areas wherever the needs arises. The idea is to have a wide-reaching consultation so that we get the strategy right. Over the coming months, the different segments of the educational sector will be asked to contribute.

 There is general consensus that high-quality education is essential not only for an individual's success but also for the social and national socio-economic development of Malta. This puts further pressure on the education system to deliver as well as to adapt to the ever-changing landscapes of global economies. Having a strategy allows the country to be flexible when it needs to be and agile enough to address specific issues or challenges when they arise.

Last year, the Ministry published a number of documents never previously published; they highlighted the many challenges the country needs to address. So we know where the challenges lie. We must now get the consultation underway, so that we can forge ahead. We must be ready to tackle the crucial educational challenges ahead.

Evarist Bartolo is Minister for Education

Varist is one of the best. Education should consume all his efforts, seeing the disaster it was left to drown in by GonziPN. Employment should be handled by some one else.