Chapter 327 of the Laws of Malta, the Education Act, includes provisions for facilitating the development of the international dimension in education. These include the participation in international educational programmes of students’ and teachers’ exchanges and mobility, the maintenance of the quality and standard of courses to ensure international recognition, the benchmarking of performance of institutions to international standards and the establishment of partnerships between Maltese and foreign educational institutions to organise courses.
Article 55 (e) of the Education Act assigns the Council of Heads of school the responsibility to encourage and facilitate the development of exchanges and projects in partnerships with schools in other countries.
Pupil and Student Mobility
Student Exchanges The Projects and Initiatives Section within the Student Services Department (SSD) is responsible for organising student exchanges which take place on a school to school basis. The main aim of such exchanges is to offer students the opportunity to experience a foreign country both culturally and educationally. The Projects and Initiatives Section liaises with Maltese and foreign schools to facilitate a school exchange. Teachers and students are actively encouraged to participate in these student exchanges as they provide participants with the opportunity for language and cultural exchange. They are organised for students and teachers from primary to post-secondary levels.
The Section plans and assists key elements of these exchanges. Requests are received from foreign schools and institutions from time to time asking for Maltese partner schools. The Projects and Initiatives Section looks for a Maltese school to act as partner. Such exchanges are organised on a reciprocity basis whereby the Maltese students pay for the airfare and travel insurance only whilst board, lodging and excursions are paid for by the host countries. Similarly, the foreign students pay only for their flight and insurance. Accommodation can be either on a home-stay or hostel basis.
Teachers and students actively participate in the organisation of the exchanges through online communication or the development of a common project. This provides students with an opportunity to get to know each other and their respective countries prior to the actual physical exchange.
When foreign students visit Malta, a special programme is prepared for them which includes visits to major historical sites, a trip to Gozo and various other excursions to educational sites. For most of these excursions the foreign students are accompanied by their Maltese counterparts so that they can become better acquainted. During 2015-2016 two student exchanges were held. A group of Gozo primary students visited Monreale, Sicily and the Italian students came to Gozo and Malta. Another group from two Maltese secondary schools visited Kassel, Germany. The German group were accommodated in Malta but were taken on a full day excursion to Gozo as well.
Erasmus+ Erasmus+ is the EU Programme in the fields of education, training, youth and sport for the period 2014-2020. Under Key Action 1: Learning Mobility of Individuals, young people aged between 13 and 30 can participate in Youth Exchanges which allow groups of young people from at least two different countries to meet and live together for up to 21 days. During a Youth Exchange, participants, supported by group leaders, jointly carry out a work programme designed and prepared by them before the Exchange. Youth Exchanges allow young people to: develop competences; become aware of socially relevant topics/thematic areas; discover new cultures, habits and life-styles, mainly through peer-learning; strengthen values like solidarity, democracy, and friendship. Exchanges of groups of pupils are also supported under Key Action 2: Strategic Partnership when a school is participating in a transnational partnership with other schools. These Strategic Partnerships in the field of school education aim at supporting exchanges of good practices between schools from different countries. In many cases, cooperation activities are also combined with class exchanges and/or mobility of pupils from the schools participating in the project.
Erasmus+ School Education Staff can participate in school mobility projects under Key Action 1 of Erasmus+ in the form of teaching assignments or staff training. Teaching assignments allow teachers or other school education staff to teach at a partner school abroad whereas staff training supports the professional development of teachers, school leaders or other school education staff in the form of: a) participation in structured courses or training events abroad; b) a job shadowing/observation period abroad in a partner school or another relevant organisation active in the field of school education.
These activities are also an opportunity for teachers to gain competences in addressing the needs of pupils with disadvantaged backgrounds. Given the current context concerning young migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, particular attention is given to support projects that train teachers in such areas as training refugee children, intercultural classrooms, teaching pupils in their second language, classroom tolerance and diversity.
eTwinning The eTwinning National Support Service regularly participates in training sessions and seminars for teachers which are organised through the eTwinning community. The eTwinning National Support Service sponsors educators to attend these training sessions by booking the accommodation, conference fee and flights. The National Support Service issues invitations for teachers who are interested to attend these professional development sessions on its online portal. More information on eTwinning is provided in ‘Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Education and School Education’.