The education divide: Only 5% of southerners attend independent schools

The National Statistics Office has revealed that only 5% of students from the southern harbour area and south eastern districts attend private independent schools

The statistics show that over two-thirds of students in Malta’s two southern districts attend state schools
The statistics show that over two-thirds of students in Malta’s two southern districts attend state schools

It is a further confirmation of Malta’s regional class divide: only 5% of students hailing from the southern harbour area and south eastern districts attend private independent schools, where parents have to pay fees.

In contrast, the percentage rises to 23% in the north harbour district, marking a clear difference in schooling preference between the ‘affluent’ north and Malta’s south.

This educational divide is mirrored by other divisions, including socio-economic ones that show higher levels of poverty in the south harbour and south eastern regions, and the political divide which sees the Labour party being more popular in regions with the lowest intake in private schools.

The statistics show that over two-thirds of students in Malta’s two southern districts attend state schools.

This contrasts with the situation in the north harbour and western regions, where students attending church and independent schools are either equal or slightly more numerous than those attending state schools.

Gozo, which also registers a strong state sector which attracts 63% of students, lacks any independent schools and only one church school, the Bishop’s seminary.

In Malta the situation is more balanced in the northern region, which includes urban conglomerations like Mosta and the more ethnically diverse St Paul’s Bay. In these regions, 57% of students at all levels, and more specifically 53% of those at secondary level, attend state schools.

These statistics show church schools peaking in Gozo, where there are no private schools, and in the western region which includes rural localities like Rabat and Siggiewi, and more affluent urban localities like Balzan, Lija and Attard.

In the western region, 36% of students at primary level and 43% of those at secondary level go to church schools. Overall in this region 51% attend either church or independent schools.

Church schools which are subsidised by government and are officially free also have a consistent presence across the island, more than independent schools. In fact the percentage of students attending these schools ranges from 26% in the south harbour district, to 37% in Gozo.

Independent schools peak in the north harbour region which includes relatively affluent localities like Swieqi and Sliema but also urban centres with a mixed social composition like Birkirkara and Qormi.

In this region 23% of students at primary level and 20% of those at secondary level attend these schools. At pre-primary level 28% of students in this region attend private schools. Yet even in this region, students attending independent schools are still outnumbered by those attending church schools and state schools.

In general, private schools have a larger share at pre-primary level. Even in the south harbour and south-eastern regions, a tenth of students attending Kinder 1 and Kinder 2 attend private schools. The only exception is Gozo which lacks such private facilities.

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