Over 4,000 students chose ethics over religion in 2018

Over half of these attend state schools, with the figure inceasing every year

File photo
File photo

Over 4,000 students opted for ethics instead of religious studies in 2018, with over half of secondary-level students attening private independent schools no longer opting for religious studies.

Since 2014, state and some independent schools started offering lessons in ethics in primary and secondary schools. During the 2018 scholastic year 4,031 students chose ethics over religion. This is equivalent to 7% of the total school population of 57,000.

In ethics classes, children of any religious belief are taught about subjects like cyber-bullying, animal rights, fundamental freedoms and rights, and other universal values of honesty and solidarity. Students are also being taught to understand other cultures, lifestyles, outlooks, and life choices different from their own

In Maltese state schools, the number of students opting for ethics has also increased from 1,943 in 2017 to 2,762 in 2018. So more than half of the 4,031 students choosing ethics attend state schools.

The subject is offered at six independent schools and just 20 state primary and 19 state secondary schools. This means that not all students in public schooling can opt for ethics—so far, only 39 available teachers are able to teach the subject.

But as from the year 2019, all students training to become teachers in primary schools will be trained in the teaching of ethics to ensure that “all graduate primary teachers will be able to teach this subject”, a spokesperson told MaltaToday earlier in January.

In state secondary schools where the subject is offered in most schools, the percentage of students opting for ethics has increased from 9% in 2017 to 13% in 2018. In primary schools where the subject is offered in only 20 schools, the percentage increased from 6% to 8% opt for ethics in the same time-frame.

67% of students choosing ethics over religion hail from northern regions; the subject proves most popular at St Paul's Bay, Naxxar, Mellieha, Sliema, Gzira and Pembroke.

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