The National Curriculum Framework for all schools in Malta and Gozo will be reviewed during 2008. The process for the updating of the document was launched by the Minister of Education Dr Louis Galea on Wednesday.
Dr Galea said the framework should take no longer than a year to implement across the board. “The curriculum is an official legal document that defines the direction, strategy and policies of the government which the educational system needs to implement over the course of students’ education over the next few years,” said Dr Galea. He added that the curriculum would also go into the values of education as well as knowledge, capability and competences which would be imparted to students. The new curriculum will replace the current one which was implemented in 2000, entitled Creating a New Future Together.
Dr Galea also encouraged interested parties to submit their suggestions to the educational authorities on firstname.lastname@example.org. He also said that the directorate will engage in a dialogue process with students, parents, teachers, educational institutions, the Church, employers, unions and others.
Dr Galea also pointed out that Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi had laid out the government’s 2015 vision, which is built on quality education in all sectors, coupled with lifelong learning. “Education is fundamental to the development of society and the economy, based on knowledge, competence and ability to face the challenges which are posed by today’s competitive globalized world,” he said.
Dr Galea said that education should serve to allow people more opportunities to land better jobs, as well as to create jobs and careers for others. In addition, he said that education was directly linked to increasing economic growth as well as attracting both local and foreign investment.
“But more importantly, we need to ensure that education serves to teach people, in particular youngsters, moral and ethical values especially related to family and children. We need an education system which is more relevant to today’s needs so as to allow the upcoming generation to be successful,” he said. Dr Galea said that if we failed morally, then society would not develop as it should.
He also announced that the principals of 10 colleges in Malta and Gozo would soon be appointed with the aim of making the most of the potential of the college system to provide better teaching to students.
Dr Galea said the colleges would receive all the support they needed so as to ensure that the reforms would be tangibly felt in the classroom. To this effect, Inclusion coordinators would be engaged while scholarships for special needs students have been issued, and an e-learning strategy will be introduced. Elaborating on the latter point, Dr Galea said: “Children today use computers all the time. One of the biggest problems that we now face is attention span and we must use IT to get students’ attention.”
The Education Minister said the new curriculum needed to address the issue of practical work. “There are plenty of students who learn academically, but there are others who are better at learning by doing, so me must implement more to allow this group to realise their potential which might be hampered by traditional learning methods,” said Dr Galea.
“However, we will continue to give particular attention to teaching mathematics, sciences and technology in primary, secondary and tertiary education,” he said. Dr Galea also announced a split. “We previously had guidance and counselling staff, but we now feel that it is time to have full time career guidance counsellors to ensure that children can make a better choice,” he said, adding that counsellors would still be available for matters such as bullying and other problems which students might need to talk about.
Dr Galea said that Budget 2008 allocated €293.5 million to the education sector, of which €34.9 million is for capital expenditure. He also said that recent policy making has allowed the country to make substantial progress. “Even when we look at the Lisbon Agenda goals, we find that we have made progress, scoring better than the EU average in various areas. The number of early school leavers is one such example,” he said.
He also said that the government was committed to raising the rate of participation in post secondary education to 85 per cent by 2015. He also added that there was a good improvement in the number of science, mathematics and technology graduates. A total of €116.5 million are to be invested in a new MCAST campus while the 2008 capital budget vote for the university was €12.35 million.
“There is always room to improve in the field of education but we must also realise that we are making progress, allowing our children to really succeed,” concluded the minister.