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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Fundamental principles and national policies


2.Organisation and governance

2.1Fundamental principles and national policies

Last update: 27 November 2023

Fundamental principles and national policies

The principles, aims, objectives and the regulation of education in Malta are laid down in the Constitution of Malta and the Education Act Chapters 327 and 605 of the Laws of Malta. 

These are substantiated by various policies and circulars. 

Chapter 605 grants the state the right to regulate education in Malta. The Framework for the Education Strategy for Malta 2014-2024 is a coherent strategy for lifelong learning opportunities from early childhood education and care to adult learning. It aims to ensure that all children, young people, and adults have the opportunity to obtain the necessary skills and attitudes to be active citizens and to succeed at work and in society and to develop a society which is competent, resourceful, critically conscious, and competitive in a global economy driven by information, knowledge and innovation

The main principles underpinning education provision in Malta are outlined below.

Compulsory education

Act 605 defines compulsory school age as “any age from five (5) years to fifteen (15) years, both inclusive, and accordingly a person shall be deemed to be of compulsory school age if he has attained the age of five (5) years and has not attained the age of sixteen (16) years or has not yet completed the last year of secondary school.” Furthermore, it places a legal duty of every parent to register children aged 5 in a school and ensure their regular attendance until age 15. Act 605 further stipulates that it is the right of every parent of a minor to give his/her decision regarding any matter concerning the education of the minor, provided that such a decision is in the best interest of the minor. Chapters I and II of the Constitution assert that State compulsory primary and secondary schooling is free of charge, thus making it possible for all children to attain their educational potential.  

Curriculum in compulsory education

Acts 327 and 605 ascertain the State’s right to establish a national curriculum framework of studies for all State and non-State schools, to establish the national minimum conditions for all schools as well as to ensure compliance. Article 45 of 605 stipulates the provision for the education and teaching of the Catholic religion in State schools, however, the parents of any minor have the right to opt that the minor should not receive instruction in the Catholic religion but instead receives an Ethical Education Programme.

The National Curriculum Framework (2012) recommends a developmental approach to education focused on learning and the learner where the curriculum meets the needs of all children and young people in a holistic manner. For further details kindly refer to Eurydice National Descriptor articles 5.2 (curriculum in primary education) and 6.2 (curriculum in secondary education).

The NCF also recommended the adoption of a Learning Outcomes Framework (LOF). This aims to move away from centrally-imposed knowledge-centric syllabi towards educational programmes that develop knowledge, attitudes and skills-based outcomes tailored by educators for the acquisition of that are more suited to their specific learners, whilst remaining in the confines of national educational entitlement. The LOF started being phased in in compulsory education from school year 2018/2019 with the implementation of the learning outcomes (LO’s) in Kinder I, Year 3 and Year 7. LO’s for Kinder II, Year 4 and Year 8 were introduced in school year 2019/2020. The implementation of the rest of LO’s is planned as follows: School year 2022/23 Year 1, Year 5 & Year 9; School year 2023/2024 Year 2, Year 6 and Year 10 while Year 11 in school year 2024/2025.

My Journey: Achieving through Different Paths launched in school year 2019/2020, enabled education to move from a 'one size fits all' system to more inclusive and equity-oriented programmes catering to students’ individual aptitudes. Through this reform, secondary school students can elect vocational or applied subjects, rather than only academic subjects (beyond the core curriculum). The reform is intended to promote inclusion and to reduce the number of early school leavers by making education relevant to a larger proportion of students and to a changing labour market.

Inclusive education

The Education Act, Chapter 605 of the Laws of Malta, reinforces the State’s commitment towards providing a quality holistic education for all citizens without any distinction of age, sex, belief or socio-economic background, by ensuring accessibility to primary and secondary schools, special schools for children with individual educational needs, and learning institutions to all. 

Two steering documents in the field of inclusive education, A National Inclusive Education Framework (2022) and A Policy on Inclusive Education in Schools: Route to Quality Inclusion (2019), deal with the development of high-quality inclusion through implementing, reviewing and committing towards inclusive policies and practices. Thus, providing high-quality education for all learners to embrace social equity and achieve an inclusive society. 

A National Inclusive Education Framework provides a clear direction to schools on their journey towards inclusion with a view to provide effective and efficient service to all learners, educators, parents and to the wider community. This framework embraces the principles of Ownership, Diversity, Autonomy, Planning and Research. It addresses inclusion through ten themes: Inclusive and Strategic Leadership; Whole School Development Planning; Whole School Inclusive Environment; Collaboration with parents and community; Individual Education Planning; Teaching and Learning; Learner and Staff; Continuous Professional Development; Positive Behaviour Management; Support Structure and services.

A Policy on Inclusive Education in Schools: Route to Quality Inclusion provides Education stakeholders a guiding plan towards a more just and holistic education. It among others promotes a collaborative culture where all stakeholders work hand in hand towards the removal of all barriers to learning. This can be achieved by working on various goals related to disability, attendance, gender, promoting a healthy lifestyle and managing behaviour in schools that will address inequalities in schools. The policies Managing Behaviour in Schools Policy and Addressing bullying behaviour in schools were completely rewritten to reflect the current situations in schools and adopt proactive approaches.  A working group was set up with different stakeholders working in schools with students exhibiting challenging behaviour and / or bullying. 

The two documents are complementary and were developed within the context of the Framework for the Education Strategy for Malta 2014-2024, the National Curriculum Framework for All and the Respect for All Framework. They also draw on several international commitments to the provision of education for all to which Malta is a signatory, namely, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006). Furthermore, it was developed in the context of Council Resolution on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training towards the European Education Area and beyond (2021-2030), which establishes as its first strategic priority improving quality, equity, inclusion and success for all in education and training. This policy also adopts a whole-school approach philosophy of how schools are to develop conducive learning environments for all stakeholders supporting the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 – Ensure Inclusive and Equitable quality Education and Promote lifelong Learning opportunities for all (UN, 2015). Hence, it offers flexibility to schools to transform existing pedagogical, personal and professional beliefs, attitudes and discourse, as well as re-design processes and practices in a manner that respond effectively to all learners’ needs and social realities.

For further details kindly refer to ND Chapter 12: Educational support and guidance.

Quality and guidance

Internal quality assurance is fundamental. The internal quality assurance mechanisms of education establishments are subject to an external evaluation which forms part of the external quality assurance process.

By virtue of Articles 18 and 21 of the Education Act (c.327), the Quality Assurance Department (QAD), within the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (DQSE), provides “…support, guidance, monitoring, inspection, evaluation and reporting on the process of teaching in schools, on the application of the curriculum, syllabi, pedagogy, assessment and examinations, and on the administration, and on the assurance and auditing of quality in Colleges and schools”. The QAD carries out regular external reviews take place in all state and non-state childcare centres, kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, in line with the Parameters of the External Review, the National Minimum Conditions for All Schools Regulations and subsidiary legislation

Chapter 607 of the Laws of  Malta, namely the Further And Higher Education Act, established the Malta Authority for Further and Higher Education (MFHEA) which regulates further and higher educational institutions and education providers. The MFHEA promotes the development and achievement of excellence in further and higher education in Malta through research, effective licensing, accreditation, quality assurance and recognition of qualifications established under the Malta Qualifications Framework. Moreover, it follows four priority areas established in the Higher Education Strategy for Malta namely: increasing participation and attainment; reducing gender differences; encouraging innovative content and programme design; and increasing employability and entrepreneurship.

For further details kindly refer to Eurydice National Descriptors Chapter 11: Quality Assurance.

Home education

Part V of Chapter 605 gives the right to parents of minors of compulsory school age to apply to the Division of Education for permission to provide Home Education to the minor, establishing conditions. Permission is granted if home schooling is in the best interests of the minor and the criteria established by the Act are met. Kindly refer to Eurydice National Descriptors article 2.3 for further details.

Teaching profession

Article 26 of the Education Act (c.327) establishes the setting up of a Council for the Teaching Profession. Kindly refer to Eurydice National Descriptors article 2.6 (Administration and governance at central and/or regional level) and 9.2 (Conditions of service for teachers working in early childhood and school education) for further details.

Provisions of post-compulsory education

In accordance with Article 4 of the Education Act, Chapter 605 of the Laws of Malta, the State is legally bound to promote the development of cultural, scientific and technical research and provide for the professional and vocational training and advancement of workers. Persons with disabilities and those who are unable to work are also entitled to access education and vocational training.

Act 327 establishes the constitution of and regulates the performance and financial provisions, of the University of Malta, the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology, (MCAST), and the Institute for Tourism Studies, as well as the employment of officers and staff of these entities. 

For further details kindly refer to Eurydice National Descriptors Chapter 7 Higher Education.