Towards a brighter future

For this academic year MCAST has 6,500 full time students and a further 4,000 following a course on a part-time basis.

MCAST is the country’s leading vocational education and training institution and we believe that to move forward we have had to restructure and upgrade the institution’s organisation and to ensure that it will also tie education ever closer to society and its growing needs. This change will help MCAST provide progression to students who choose the vocational path.

Through MCAST’s various institutes in Malta and the Gozo Centre, we offer 185 full time and 200 part-time programmes. For this academic year MCAST has 6,500 full time students and a further 4,000 following a course on a part-time basis.

MCAST is addressing three realities and students can now follow a foundation course with programmes at Levels 1 to 3 as a second chance to those who struggled in primary and secondary school; Advanced Diploma programmes at Level 4 and for Higher Diploma and Degree students, programmes at Levels 5 and 6. Thanks to the provisions of the new legal notice, we have now made it possible for MCAST to raise its education levels even further and for the first time students at MCAST can now move on to Level 7 programmes and certification.

Last year we had 12% of our graduates in first degree who had entered MCAST at Level 2. Without MCAST these would have found a dead end. Standards need to be made higher to ensure that all students are given the possibility to improve and nobody should find obstacles in their education. The only way to do this is to introduce higher standards and better access to education for everyone but at the same time continue to improve early childhood, primary and secondary education.

We must address these challenges presented by industry and by the changes that Maltese society is experiencing. MCAST has shown it is capable of responding to industry’s needs by offering programmes in the Aviation Industry and Engineering. The institution is also working to ensure work-based learning for students through a number of apprenticeships and internships. We need to bring education closer to the needs of industry, and education could never be merely training narrowly for a specific job but a combination of both work-based learning, critical thinking, ethical values and citizenship.

Shortly, MCAST will launch the new prospectus for 2015/16 which will include a number of new programmes, both on a full time and part time basis.

We will ensure that all students attending MCAST will have the opportunity to learn and practise and that the institution will support the development of students. This is also being achieved through the creation of the National Vocational Qualification. Students will be given Entrepreneurship Experience and all students attending MCAST will be given work exposure and the opportunity to participate in entrepreneurial methods as a critical component in their programme.

The new structure at MCAST will provide for three colleges: a Foundation College, that together with secondary education institutions will develop a programme to implement vocational education at Secondary Level for those who have completed their compulsory schooling; a Technical College which will provide a modular based blended learning vocational programme and offer a series of Advanced Diploma Programmes at level 4; and a Professional College that will offer a series of Degrees at level 6 and level 7 through international partnerships.

MCAST will not be entering into competition for students with the University of Malta but it will complement the University of Malta to the benefit of our students.  The new set-up would help to entice a wider cross-section of students into higher education, particularly those who leave secondary education following vocational programmes. I also believe that MCAST and the University of Malta can work together and complementary and ensure mobility and progression between each other to open brighter futures for our young people.

Education policy for trans, gender variant and intersex children

The march towards full equality for LGBTI people continues at full speed in Malta. An education policy launched today is another ground-breaking move, inspired by the landmark Gender Expression, Gender Identity and Sex Characteristics Act enacted earlier this year.

The policy is the first of its kind in Europe; no other European country has a comprehensive education policy focusing on the needs of trans, gender variant and intersex children. It identified several particular needs that must be addressed, including confidentiality, adequate facilities, support, inclusive policies, the possibility to amend documentation and access to information.

The policy is accompanied by a procedure, which outlines how the policy’s provisions should be implemented uniformly in all schools. Both documents focus on how to address the issues faced by trans and intersex students in schools and how to accommodate their needs. The policy highlights the fundamental obligation placed on schools to provide all students with a safe and inclusive educational environment.

The Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act (GIGESC) follows in the footsteps of other legislative and constitutional changes made in recent years. The government has introduced measures to recognise trans persons in their true gender and allow them to enter civil marriage. In 2014, gender identity was added to the constitutional list of non-discrimination grounds and gender identity was recognised as falling within the remit of a particular social group for asylum purposes. Furthermore trans people were afforded greater protection under national employment laws.

This legislation is the driving force behind the policy and its accompanying procedure. In terms of the policy’s specific goals, it aims to foster a school environment that is inclusive and safe, free from discrimination and harassment and promotes diversity.