Better education for equality

We need to start learning from each other, mutually benefit from the villager and the executive

A better education system might mean more taxes
A better education system might mean more taxes

Most Maltese friends and colleagues send or think of sending their children to private schools.

There is something I cannot understand. Why is it that in a country that is going through such prosperity and wealth, people do not think that public education is something worth investing in? I have not heard anyone discussing education during the electoral campaign. It did not seem to be relevant to the situation.

When I asked around why is it that they choose private schools to public ones, their answer was that you need to live in the right area where the public school is decent. I used to live in Valletta at the time of my inquiry, and when I asked if Valletta had a good public school, I was told that public schooling in Valletta was off-limits, something I wouldn’t even consider. I have personally witnessed many of these sweeping statements about Maltese culture, and most of them have proven to be wrong or outdated. In order to live with no contradictions we create myths about what we think certain cultures, races, institutions are, without backing them with substantial facts. It’s a safe distance from where to judge the other without having to prove anything.

Anyway this is not the point of my letter. What I would like to know is why many people are unwilling to pay more taxes, and have a better public education instead of paying as much as their equivalent in annual taxes for a private one? I tried to look for the answer. Maybe private schools were simply better. I therefore went round a few schools (private and public) to see what it was they were giving that the public ones weren’t. To my surprise I could not tell the difference, except for the fact that in the private ones they’d greet you straight away in English. The activities, and the lessons were all the same. Where were the 3,000-4,000euros difference between the two?

Then it finally dawned on me. People choose private schools not for their better education, nor their better activities, nor their greener areas, nor the qualifications of their teachers. They choose private schools as a sign of distinction, like buying an SUV, or a house with an infinity swimming pool. What is surprising is that even the government seems to tacitly approve this form of class segregation, this grouping of socio-economic classes by public and private tuition. The prime minister sends his two siblings to a private school, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the minister of education did the same. There seems to be something inherently wrong in believing that the private sector gives better options in life, especially if you run the country.

Now this is not about politics (although everything is about politics). This is about the Maltese people and their government, who do not believe in the system they created and paid for with their taxes. A country that is run by people who do not really believe in its public education is a country bound to sell everything to the private, believing that this is the only way forward.

I really think things need to change. We need to start learning from each other, mutually benefit from the villager and the executive. We need to shuffle social classes around, we cannot segregate ourselves in our tiny bubble, as this will only create greater inequality and a distorted view of our culture. The way forward will be for us to spontaneously decide that our children deserve a good education and that we are even willing to pay more taxes to achieve this goal. With a better education everywhere, from Birzebuggia to Sliema, from Mgarr to Victoria, whether it is public or private we will generate better equality. This will in return improve the quality of life of the whole community.

Abner Fabbro, via email

Slow progress

In the same block as the Zabbar health centre, there are the police station, local council and social services offices
In the same block as the Zabbar health centre, there are the police station, local council and social services offices

Before the elections, the Ministry for Transport at last started work on resurfacing the area in Zabbar around the block where one finds the Police station, post office, local council, social services, a few shops and last but not least our busy local clinic with the doctor and assistant. 

The clinic is very important and very busy especially with the elderly. The road around this block is still being made ready – it is in a dangerous condition, and there is so much dust too! 

On Friday last week, I couldn’t cross after getting off the bus and had to walk all around back into main road traffic in order to get to Sanctuary Street. 

It is very difficult to contact the right ministry or secretariat – once they see the number they do not answer. This goes to all the ministries if one needs to help someone – incredible!

Joan Barbara, Zabbar