Caring for gifted students

Whilst it is our moral duty to do all we can not to let any children fall behind, it is also our duty not to hold back students from reaching their full potential

Our country needs gifted and talented people. A good education system needs to nurture gifted students. We cannot let them down in the name of inclusion. Whilst it is our moral duty to do all we can not to let any children fall behind, it is also our duty not to hold back students from reaching their full potential.

We must encourage our students to aim high and to help them reach their aspirations. Our country has developed where it is now thanks to countless persons who, over the centuries had big dreams and aspirations for these small islands. We need to do more for our gifted students.

This week a presentation was held for the winners of the fifth edition of Malta Junior Science Olympiad 2018. The olympiad targets gifted and talented students in STEM and is one of the initiatives that the Directorate for Learning and Assessment Programmes organises to nurture giftedness. A total of 75 students participated in this year’s science olympiad.  The participants collaborate in teams of three students to solve problems related to different scientific themes such as water, waste management, fuels etc.

Lauren Azzopardi, Edward Rossi and Timothy Vella from St Michael Foundation are the top winners of the fifth edition. The team from Archbishop’s Seminary Rabat placed second while that from Immaculate Conception School Tarxien placed third. The winning teams were presented awards sponsored by the European Commission Representation in Malta.  The top winners received the Malta Junior Science Olympiad trophy sponsored by the HSBC Malta Foundation.

During the five editions, a total of 372 students participated.  Indeed, several participants from the first edition are currently pursuing STEM studies at tertiary level.

The directorate is highly committed to provide opportunities to challenge gifted and talented students in different fields and to provide training to educators to teach gifted students. In fact, a team of nine educators is currently benefiting from a grant sponsored by the Ministry to become proficient in gifted education.

I am currently reading ‘Thou shalt innovate’, a book by Avi Jorisch, whose articles have appeared in several influential outlets including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Forbes, and Al-Arabiya.net. He presents several instances, in one of which he writes that one of his colleagues was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and had begun undergoing deep brain stimulation to help with his symptoms.

He later learned that the device that was used had been designed by an Arab couple from Nazareth. Their innovation had revolutionised brain surgery. This made him want to connect with the inspirational side of Israel and seek out social innovators who were working on challenges that were making life better for millions of people around the world.

In another reference to the importance of high-tech entrepreneurship he explains that he was invited and attended a gathering which brought together Israel’s Jews, Christians and Muslims as well as Palestinians from the West Bank. Innovation has no boundaries.

This book is a tale about Israelis who have chosen hope and healing over death and destruction. “In a part of the world that has more than its share of darkness, these stories are rays of light”. I concur and I strongly recommend this book.

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