This chapter provides a thematic and chronological overview of national reforms and policy developments since 2021. The introduction of the chapter describes the overall education strategy and the key objectives across the whole education system. It also looks at how the education reform process is organised and who are the main actors in the decision-making process. The section on ongoing reforms and policy developments groups reforms in the following broad thematic areas that largely correspond to education levels:
Inside each thematic area, reforms are organised chronologically. The most recent reforms are described first.
Overall national education strategy and key objectives
The Education Act (Chapter 327 of the Laws of Malta) ascertains that every Maltese citizen has the right to receive education and instruction without any distinction of age, sex, belief or economic means. It also outlines the State’s obligations to promote education and instruction; to ensure the existence of a system of schools and institutions accessible to all Maltese citizens catering for the full development of the whole personality including the ability of every person to work; and to provide for such schools and institutions.
Education is pegged against the Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF). The MQF is a referencing tool that helps to describe the knowledge, skills and competencies of a qualification, to compare both national and foreign qualifications to promote quality, transparency and mobility of qualifications in all types of education. It is mainly referenced to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) as well as to other non-European qualifications frameworks. These levels are neutral reference points applicable to academic or vocational education; formal, informal and non-formal learning. Cognisant of the challenges posed by an ever-evolving and competitive world, the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation is committed to provide present and future generations with the necessary skills and competences for employability and citizenship in the 21st century. These intentions are iterated in the Framework for the Education Strategy for Malta 2014-2024, which provides a coherent strategy for lifelong learning opportunities from early childhood education and care to adult learning. This Framework is built on four broad goals, aligned with European and global benchmarks:
- To reduce the gaps in educational outcomes between boys and girls and between students attending different schools; decrease the number of low achievers and raise the bar in literacy, numeracy, and science and technology competence; and increase student achievement;
- To support educational achievement of children at-risk-of-poverty and from low socio-economic status; and reduce the relatively high incidence of early school-leavers;
- To increase participation in lifelong learning and adult learning;
- To raise levels of student attainment and retainment in further, vocational, and tertiary education and training.
This Framework serves as a lynchpin for all other education-related policy documents. Such documents, with applicability across the entire education system, are:
The National Curriculum Framework, National Literacy Strategy for All in Malta and Gozo, Strategic Plan for the Prevention of Early School Leaving, the Higher Education Strategy for Malta, the National Vocational Education and Training Policy and the Malta National Lifelong Learning Strategy. Measures that are already in place and others set to be initiated are aimed to reach across all socio-economic sectors and different cultural, ethnic, religious, gender and sexual status.
The National Curriculum Framework outlines the learning entitlement during the period of compulsory schooling, proposing that a Learning Outcomes Framework serves as the keystone for learning and assessment throughout compulsory education. The Learning Outcomes Framework, which started being phased in from academic year 2018/2019, aims to provide more curricular autonomy to colleges and schools to better address students’ needs. My Journey: Achieving through Different Paths aims to increase equity and inclusion in secondary education with a view to reduce the number of early school leavers so that young people will be better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of adulthood. In order to reach this aim, My Journey responds to pupils’ different aptitudes by shifting secondary education from one that is solely academic to three streams: academic, vocational and applied.
The National Homework Policy the roles and responsibilities of different educators vis-à-vis homework, the timing, scheduling and quantity of homework, the reporting of homework and different homework practices due to different abilities. This policy must be incorporated as part of each school’s annual development plan and is reviewed every five years.
Further policies, complementing the above mentioned ones on specific educational matters or school cohorts, are found here.
Overview of the education reform process and drivers
Educational reforms are initiated by the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation or by Central Government (through the election manifesto or budget document).
Reforms initiated by the Ministry involve a broad consultation process with educators, civil society, other ministries, industry and other stakeholders as applicable. Multiannual policies also involve a public consultation period on the draft policy. Oftentimes, the Ministry commissions research and sets up consultative groups to analyse certain issues and recommend policies, actions and other initiatives to address them. Furthermore, reforms are usually supported by legislative acts or legal notices, hence following the legislative process through the national Parliament.
Implementation of the reforms, be they policies or initiatives, falls under the responsibility of one of the directorates or entities that fall within the Ministry’s remit.