Trade institute for post-secondary students proposed in draft National Education Strategy

Education Minister Clifton Grima unveils new education strategy that will be open for consultation until 13 February • Child-friendly document also published • Reinforcement of the Maltese language proposed

Education Minister Clifton Grima (Photo: DOI)
Education Minister Clifton Grima (Photo: DOI)

A newly launched consultation document on education is proposing the creation of a Trade Institute for post-secondary students based on a micro-credentials system.

The institute will promote careers in the traditional and modern trades, according to the National Education Strategy unveiled on Tuesday by Education Minister Clifton Grima.

The proposed strategy is based on three pillars – wellbeing, growth and empowerment, and equity and inclusion.

The 76-page document was created through a series of 200 meetings with students, families, teachers, and other stakeholders and will remain open for public consultation until 13 February. A child-friendly version was also published.

“We believed a document such as this needed to be drafted by stakeholders; you have the knowledge, the skills and, above all, the classroom experience of the classroom to know what is needed in the education system,” Grima said in the presence of representatives from the Malta Union of Teachers, the University of Malta and other stakeholders.

Among the measures listed under the ‘growth and empowerment’ pillar is further recognition of arts as a specialised area of studies, the recognition of elite athletes’ efforts in professional sport and a revised national curriculum to reflect the country’s future needs.

Another significant proposal is the reinforcement of the Maltese language as a core subject, which is viewed as a means to preserve local culture.

The pillar for ‘equity and inclusion’ includes measures to reduce absenteeism and the assessment of foreign students for educational background and socio-emotional health besides language skills.

Under the ‘wellbeing’ pillar, the strategy is proposing mental health support for teachers. It also suggests students will spend more time doing physical activity at school, and parents will be encouraged to participate more in school life.

Educators will also be involved directly and regularly in policy development, while the administrative burden on educators will be simplified and reduced.

For students, the strategy proposes adopting a proactive approach towards their ability to manage social relationships and more robust intervention services related to mental health.

Student Councils should move away from activity organisation as they are today and become “a true embodiment of a democratic process” advocating for environmental, social and good governance goals.

Another aim of the strategy is to narrow the learning gap at primary school level and ensure that all students, irrespective of their economic, social and cultural background, possess a basic level of literacy.

Another measure is to revise the inclusion model by introducing a class support system for students who have learning difficulties but are not entitled to a statement of needs. The strategy also proposes a more sustainable inclusion model following a thorough re-audit by the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education. The curriculum of learning support centres will also be revised.