Third of students at risk of becoming early school leavers

A report issued by MATSEC has found that nearly one-third of students born in 2002 failed to obtain a pass in at least five SEC subjects, risking to join the rank of early school-leavers if they do not participate in further education or training

Female students outperformed their male counterparts in SEC exams
Female students outperformed their male counterparts in SEC exams

Nearly one-third of students born in 2002 failed to obtain a pass in at least five SEC subjects, risking to join the rank of early school-leavers if they do not participate in further education or training, according to a statistical report issued by MATSEC.

“Unless these youths… are encouraged to improve their attainment through further education or training, they will increase the population of early school leavers to their personal detriment and that of the economy,” MATSEC chairman Professor Frank Ventura warned.

The amount of students which failed to obtain passes in five subjects has remained stable from last year, rising slightly from 30.4% to 31.8%.
On the other hand, 2,679 16-year-olds obtained five or more SEC passes (Grade 1 to 7), becoming automatically eligible to continue their studies in post-secondary institutions like Junior College or MCAST.

A trend that requires further study according to MATSEC is that while the percentage of the 16-year-olds that qualify for admission to Sixth Form level increased from 37.5% in 2004 to around 49% in 2014, this percentage has remained constant in the last five years. “Is this a plateau which cannot be improved or improved with considerable effort?” the authors of the report ask.

Females performing better again

The report shows that in 2018, 48% of 16-year-olds also obtained the passes (Grade 1 to 5) required to pursue their education into Sixth Form. But as in previous years the report points at a wide gap between males and females.

While 53.4% of females were eligible to continue their academic studies, only 43.1% of males did so. “Female candidates outperform male candidates and, in fact, in the majority of subjects, the largest percentage of candidates who obtained Grades 1, 2, and 3 were females while the largest percentage of candidates who obtained Grade U were male”.

75% of students in church schools sat for examinations in at least nine subjects as opposed to 42.6% in State schools
75% of students in church schools sat for examinations in at least nine subjects as opposed to 42.6% in State schools

Church school students get best results

The report also confirms previous trends showing church school students achieving the best results. While 75.1% and 64.6% of church and independent school candidates respectively sat for examinations in at least nine subjects, only 42.6% of State school candidates did so.
Students in the private independent sector were also more inclined to study science subjects and to diversify their language choices.

Overall in 2018, 13.7% of 16-year-olds applied for examinations in the three science subjects with severe differences between sectors.
While 21.1% and 19.2% of church and independent school candidates respectively registered for examinations in all three science subjects, less than 10.0% of State school candidates did so.

Chemistry is still a taboo subject among students
Chemistry is still a taboo subject among students

Chemistry least favoured science subject

The statistics also show that Chemistry remains a taboo subject. The largest category of candidates registered for one science subject.

Although more males opted for Physics as their single science subject, most of the candidates who registered for Biology only were females. Chemistry is rarely taken as one’s only science subject.

The largest category of candidates opting for two science subjects registered for Biology and Physics, again suggesting that most candidates shy away from choosing Chemistry.

The majority of candidates who studied more than one science subject were females. 13.7% of candidates born in 2002 applied for the three sciences (11.4% of boys and 16.4% of girls).

Italian was by far the most preferred foreign language of choice for secondary school students
Italian was by far the most preferred foreign language of choice for secondary school students

Most students opt for only one foreign language

When it comes to foreign languages, most candidates (65%) applied for one foreign language examination, with Italian being the most common. For students sitting for two language examinations, Italian and French were by far the most prevalent choice.

But while 29.2% of candidates from State and independent schools did not even sit for a single foreign language, the percentage drops down to 16.3% for church schools.

The church school sector boasts of 19% of its candidates registered for two foreign language subjects. This latter percentage drops to 5.4% and 8% for State and independent schools respectively.

While 52% and 48.1% of State and church school students registering for one foreign language chose Italian, 31.6% of those coming from independent schools do so. Most candidates from independent schools opt for French (52.3%).

The 2018 SEC examination session was the second session where students could sit for exams in vocational subjects like Agribusiness, Engineering Technology, Health & Social Care, Hospitality, and Information Technology.

The choice of vocational subjects are marked by gender differences
The choice of vocational subjects are marked by gender differences

532 opt for vocational subjects

A total of 532 candidates (335 males and 197 females) registered for a vocational subject. Of these, 44 (35 males and 9 females) registered for the vocational subject of choice as their only SEC examination.

Notably, only male candidates registered for SEC Agribusiness and Engineering Technology. These subjects are vocational in nature.

Most of the other SEC vocational subjects are also marked by a large gender difference in terms of registrations: in Information Technology, 84.6% of registrants are male, while in Health and Social Care, 85.5% of registrants are female. This is not repeated in Hospitality where approximately half of registrants are male.

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