A responsibility to introduce ethics in schools

During this scholastic year, the programme is being implemented only in Primary Years 1 and 2, and Secondary Forms 1 and 2.  Ethics is being timetabled in both primary and secondary schools to run in parallel to Religious Education.

The National Curriculum Framework document (2012) had envisaged the introduction of Ethics as a separate subject for students whose parents do not wish them to be educated in the Roman Catholic faith at school.

The Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (DQSE) committed itself to develop such a programme. In January 2014, a national seminar on the introduction of Ethics in schools was organised. A number of stakeholders participated in this seminar, including Rev. Dr René Camilleri, the Archbishop’s Delegate for Catechesis and Lecturer in the Faculty of Theology, and the Imam Mohammed El Sadi.

All those present reflected upon the introduction of Ethics in schools, and the potential difficulties and implications that the introduction of a new subject may pose for the education system.

During this scholastic year 2014-2015, Ethics was taught as a pilot project in four state schools (primary and secondary) at St Clare and Maria Regina Colleges.  Students who are exempted from Religious Education are required to participate in the Ethics class.

During the same time, a number of teachers were given the opportunity to read for a one-year Post-Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Ethics in Schools, at the University of Malta. More than 50 teachers completed this course and are now qualified to teach Ethics at school.

During this scholastic year, the programme is being implemented only in Primary Years 1 and 2, and Secondary Forms 1 and 2.  Ethics is being timetabled in both primary and secondary schools to run in parallel to Religious Education.

It is envisaged that during the next scholastic year the programme will continue to be offered in Years 3 and Form 3 in the same four pilot schools. A number of independent schools are also planning to introduce Ethics in the next scholastic year.

Ongoing evaluation of the programme is being conducted by teachers to ensure that the curricular aims of the programme are reached.  As from 2016-17, the programme will expand to those state schools where there is a demand for it, at feasible entry points, so that eventually it will be offered at all stages of compulsory education.

Initial discussions with the Matsec Board have also been conducted to ensure that a SEC Ethics programme and assessment will be available and students can obtain an MQF Level 3 certification in this subject at the end of Form 5.

The learning outcomes for the Ethics programme are now available for public consultation as part of a project to develop learning outcomes for all subjects within compulsory education. The Ethics programme is accessible at http://www.schoolslearningoutcomes.edu.mt/en/subjects/ethics and both educators and the public are encouraged to view and give online feedback.

All the feedback received will be analysed by the local curriculum experts for this subject, and taken into consideration so as to enhance this programme. The Learning and Assessment Programme for Ethics is spread upon three modules for each scholastic year.

The Ethics programme is based on the promotion of moral values, development of attitudes and the sharing of experiences which are a common heritage to humanity. It educates learners to understand the nature of moral language, make sound and reflective moral judgments and live a lifestyle that corresponds with and reflects one’s moral values without focusing on a particular moral doctrine.

Its pedagogy emphasises group work, debates, presentations, critical thinking and creativity. The assessment of this subject is based on a blend of ongoing and summative assessment, including activities, projects and reflexive writing throughout the whole learning programme.

Special thanks must be attributed to Prof. Kenneth Wain and his team within the Faculty of Education, in collaboration with the DQSE, for all the work done to develop the Learning Outcomes and the Learning and Assessment Programme for Ethics.

More in Blogs