Not a doomsday scenario, just expert analysis

When it comes to truly independent analysis and review, we are far from the doomsday scenarios some people depict

How does Malta fare compared to other countries? This is what the Global Innovation Index 2018 report sets out to answer as it analyses 126 countries across the globe on a number of attributes in terms of innovation, economy and key sectors.

The numbers are surprising, in a positive way. We often highlight our shortcomings without acknowledging that when one puts things into context with the rest of Europe and the rest of the modern world, we fare quite well. Would you believe, even in terms of environment and energy, we are among the best? The report, which was written by Cornell and Insead among others, shows that Malta does well in terms of unit of energy use compared to GDP (2nd out of 126). We’re first in ecological sustainability and environmental certification.

In education we have among the best ratios of educators and pupils. In this area, we are fourth out of 126. We are ninth in the area of expenditure on education compared to GDP and ninth in government funding per pupil in secondary compared to GDP.

As a sector in education we rank 12th in the world. In IT, we rank fifth best in terms of accessibility and we also do relatively well in ICT use, government services online and e-participation.

We also fare very well in important economic areas such as business sophistication, knowledge and technology output, human capital, research and creative outputs, less so in market sophistication.

It also delves into the now-famous topic of reliability and institutions. We rank 33 among 126 countries, and we’re considered 11th for most politically stable and safe framework in the world. We are in the top quarter in terms of rule of law, regulatory quality, political environment and government effectiveness. This all goes to show that when it comes to truly independent analysis and review, we are far from the doomsday scenarios some people depict.

Safety in schools

Earlier this week a report was published about safety in schools. As the MUT itself said, this is not a scientific report and the methodology used is not the most reliable.

But this does not mean that there are no issues, and everything is perfect.

I think we have specific cases where more security and safety measures need to be taken. I think each school has a reality of its own and we work hand in hand with College Principals and Heads of Schools to make sure that, where needed, appropriate measures are taken.

I don’t believe we should turn schools into high-security prisons with big walls (they’re popular nowadays). We should understand the reality and take appropriate steps for each situation – in the last budget, for the first time, €280,000 was allocated specifically for this.

There are many schools which are completely safe and the personnel working there can vouch for this; they do not have these measures and that’s fine as well.

No individual should go to work without peace of mind and a safe environment. We have always provided help, through the Directorate for Educational Services, to all those who asked for it. An additional way to raise such issues – edu.gov.mt/support – has also been introduced to make sure the ministry is more accessible.

We’re working towards harsher legislation for aggression in an educational institution and we will see this draft become law very soon. This sends the right signal that a violent act in schools is even more serious because of the presence of children.

There will be zero tolerance on any aggression and violence in schools. This is something we refuse to compromise on, and nobody will find refuge for any ill-behaviour towards educators and students.

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