[WATCH] Minister wants alternative learning included in mainstream education

Education minister Evarist Bartolo aims to integrate the Alternative Learning Programme into mainstream education in a bid to encourage student engagement

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo visits ALP workshop (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Education Minister Evarist Bartolo visits ALP workshop (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Skill-based programmes 'way to go'

Education minister Evarist Bartolo aims to integrate the Alternative Learning Programme (ALP) into mainstream education in a bid to encourage student engagement.

The ALP is designed for students in their final year of compulsory education who are unlikely to sit for MATSEC exams. It provides students the opportunity to follow vocational training, leading them to obtaining certifications in levels one to three of the Malta Qualifications Framework.

Asked by MaltaToday during an ALP open day on what the prospects for the programme are, Bartolo said that he wanted to make sure that it does not remain an ‘alternative’ learning programme, but becomes part of the mainstream educational experience.

“I think the best education is based on learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together. We are human beings who have different senses. If our educational experience restricts itself to sitting down, following a lesson given by an adult and not doing anything at all, it is no wonder then that our teenagers get bored and disengaged. But once you give young people a reason why they should attend school, they take it up. This experience has shown that this is the way to go, and now we need to develop it even further,” he said.

ALP gives students the opportunity to study skills-based programmes
ALP gives students the opportunity to study skills-based programmes

The minister described the Paola centre as a place where students are given the possibility to learn by doing, to work on their personal skills, and also to know more about the area they have chosen.

“The mayor of Paola was at first very worried that the teenagers would disrupt his community, and there were some issues at first. Obviously, when you have teenagers who are not happy with their lives, they are going to have issues. But once they know that they find love that they find something they enjoy doing, they do settle down and really contribute well,” Bartolo said.

He added that heads of church and independent schools he has spoken with have shown interest in the project, and are seeking to incorporate it into their own educational experience.

According to the minister, the programme has reached 800 youths over the past four years, with 185 students being enrolled in the programme this year alone.

“This is because for the first time we have developed what we call ALP+. These are 16-year-olds who want to stay on and who want to develop in a specific area, such as media or catering,” Bartolo added.

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