This chapter provides a thematic and chronological overview of national reforms and policy developments since 2020.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:
Early childhood education and care
Transversal skills and employability
Inside each thematic area, reforms are organised chronologically. The most recent reforms are described first.
Overall national education strategy and key objectives
The Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation, has stated its intention to consolidate and build on the successes achieved in education and employment in the past. However, it also recognises the challenges posed by an ever-evolving and competitive world. The Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation is thus committing itself to provide present and future generations with the necessary skills and competences for employability and citizenship in the 21st century. The Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation carries out several measures such as the outcomes-based approach syllabi, on-going teacher training and an increase in the number of vocational subjects offered in secondary schools.
The National Curriculum Framework proposed a Learning Outcomes Framework as the keystone for learning and assessment throughout compulsory education. The Learning Outcomes Framework aims to provide more curricular autonomy to colleges and schools in order to address better the needs of the students. The new learning outcomes programmes and syllabi were introduced and started being phased in from academic year 2018/2019. Therefore, schools and learners now have the freedom to develop programmes within the framework of knowledge, attitudes and skills.
The reform entitled My Journey: Achieving through Different Paths, which aims to upgrade the quality of secondary education and make it more equitable to reduce the number of early school leavers and prepare for future challenges and opportunities, is being phased in. This reform aims to transform the secondary education system into three streams. It provides more inclusive- and equity-oriented programmes as to respond to pupils’ different aptitudes and promotes inclusion.
The expectations of homework should correspond with the values outlined in the Framework for the Education Strategy for Malta 2014-2024. This policy details different aspects such as 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 will be reviewed every five years.
The Framework for the Education Strategy for Malta 2014-2024 provides a coherent strategy for lifelong learning opportunities from early childhood education and care to adult learning 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. This Framework is built on four broad goals, aligned with European and world 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 offers focus and direction for other policy documents, such as 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.
While acknowledging that out-of-school factors like poverty and social exclusion affect student achievement, the Ministry is seeking to improve students’ learning experiences by encouraging creativity, critical literacy, entrepreneurship and innovation at all levels. Objectives falling within compulsory education are set to be achieved through the provision of a relevant curriculum built on a learning outcomes approach and a variety of learning experiences and qualifications pegged to the Malta Qualifications Framework. On the other hand, different pathways and opportunities to increase the relevance of learning to the labour market will be increased during post-compulsory education and training. This Framework thus aims to contribute towards a society that is competent, resourceful, critically conscious, and competitive in a global economy driven by information, knowledge and innovation.
In 2020, providing children with access to education despite the Covid-19 pandemic took precedence. In the first and second quarters of 2021 the Ministry for Education launched four policy documents for public consultation, which regard National Literacy, Early Leaving from School and Training, Early Childhood Education and Care and Lifelong Learning.
Overview of the education reform process and drivers
In general, educational reforms are initiated by the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation following broad consultation processes with educators, civil society and if it is the case with industry. Reforms are usually supported by legislative acts or legal notices. In such cases these reforms need to follow the legislative process through the national parliament.
It is also common practice for the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation to set up consultative groups to study issues and recommend and propose actions and initiatives to address specific areas. The actions that will then need to be implemented will fall under the responsibility of either one of the education directorates or one of the various specialised agencies, commissions or educational institutions.
Other regulations and initiatives can be proposed and implemented by the national Government and the Ministry through the education directorates and other officially constituted entities. The education authorities are thus responsible for such measures including the provision of inclusive educational opportunities, free childcare, the better integration in the educational process of children coming from different ethnic backgrounds, the provision of e-learning educational support, after-school programmes, further and higher educational provision and educational provision in the context of the COVID-19 situation.