New universities to attract foreign students not compete with local institutions - Evarist Bartolo

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo and Parliamentary Secretary for sport Chris Agius address public consultation 'Gvern li Jisma'

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo said that the government aimed to attract more foreign students, and to give Malta’s educational sector more power and international influence.

At a public consultation, which is part of a series of consultations being carried out by the cabinet entitled ‘Gvern li Jisma’, Bartolo pledged that the government would not reduce their investments in the two local institutions; the University of Malta and MCAST, and that they would remain a priority.

“We believe that Malta’s tertiary education sector can become internationally acclaimed just as Malta’s English as a foreign language market is a force to be reckoned with internationally,” Bartolo said.

The new institutions were not intended to compete with local institutions for Maltese students, but they were meant to attract foreign students to the country.

 “Making our institutions internationally competitive has always been a challenge given that the local university is free of charge for Maltese and EU nationals,” Bartolo added.

Referring to the changes in the legal notice governing standards for educational institutions to be considered university, Bartolo added that those institutions wanting to set up in Malta needed to prove that they had the necessarily qualified, teachers leadership and programmes.

“We will not lower standards to accommodate inferior institutions,” Bartolo stressed.

Bartolo also added that most of the educational process depended on reading and literacy and to that end the government had strengthened libraries and literacy programmes throughout the last two years.

Looking at the success of the various programmes, Batolo discussed the importance of extending these programmes promotins literacy beyond the scholastic year and into the summer months.

“We need to make reading accessible to all children and ensure that they are given the necessary tools to get ahead in life,” Bartolo added.

Also addressing the consultation, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Youth Chris Agius promised that the government was focusing on providing more funds to the sport sector and introducing less traditional sports at an early age.

“This year there was a pilot project to introduce golf and rugby in primary schools, and we will soon be issuing an expression of interest for a motor-racing track, which is an ever-growing trend among enthusiasts,” Agius said.

Agius further explained that efforts were being made to place the Marsa race-course among the top race course in Europe, and ensure that the sport enjoys more international attentions.

Referring to the results of a recent survey on child obesity, Bartolo said that the government was looking for ways to strengthen healthy practises at schools.

“To that end, soft drinks will soon be banned from school canteens and only water will be available.”

Bartolo added that the educational system needed to give more importance to encouraging students to participate in extra curricular activities like sports and performing arts, but that this wasn’t just up to educational systems.

“Parents have a role to push for participation in these activities. The performing arts can have a very positive contribution on student development, he added.