The Constitution of the Republic of Malta and Chapter 327 of the Laws of Malta - the Education Act (1988) provide the constitutional and legal framework and the main aims for the Maltese educational system.
The Education Act:
· Acknowledges the right of every citizen of the Republic of Malta to receive education and instruction without any distinction of age, sex, belief or economic means;
· Regulates the central Government’s obligations to ensure the existence and accessibility of schools and other educational institutions;
· Regulates parental duties and rights in relation to their children’s education including their right to choose their child’s school;
· Provides the legal framework for the Government’s role in the provision, decision making and regulation of educational services, such as the establishing of a national minimum curriculum framework of studies for all schools (state and non-state), the minimum conditions for all schools and colleges to operate from and to secure compliance;
Educational reforms have been introduced over the years to ensure an improved holistic quality education that would help all Maltese children to succeed as active citizens and lifelong learners in a globalised world. These reforms stem from the fact that Malta’s economy, in a country with no natural resources, must rely on a quality education to expand the country’s intellectual capital through the effective development of its human resources.
This Education Act has undergone a number of amendments over the years to bring about reforms in the national education system. In 2014 a consultation document on reforms to the Act was published, calling for a nationwide consultation in order to set the educational agenda for the next ten years.
A major reform that took place in 2006 was the separation of the regulatory and provider roles of the central education authority. Two directorates were established: the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (DQSE) and the Directorate for Educational Services (DES).
The DQSE was responsible for establishing and monitoring the standards and quality of the programmes and services provided in all schools, both state and non-state, throughout the compulsory education cycles. Eventually this responsibility was passed on to the Department for the Curriculum, Lifelong Learning and Employability. Currently, the Quality Assurance Department (QAD) and the Accreditation Unit fall under the remit of DQSE.
The DES plans, manages and provides resources and services to schools in collaboration with the College Networks and the schools themselves. The DES is made up of two directorates and a unit: the Directorate for Education Resources, the Directorate for National School Support Services and the School Internal Review and Support Unit.
Areas of responsibility that used to fall within the remit of DQSE are now being administered by the Department for Curriculum, Lifelong Learning and Employability (DCLE), and especially the responsibility for the implementation of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) by Maltese schools. Three directorates make up DCLE, these being the Directorate for Learning and Assessment Programmes, the Directorate for Digital Literacy and Transversal Skills and the Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability.
Other departments directly related to compulsory education and that fall directly under the remit of the Permanent Secretary within the Ministry for Education and Employment are the Strategy and Support Department and the Information Management Unit.
The 2006 reform also provided for a greater decentralisation process such that decisions previously taken at central level are now being taken at management levels closer to state schools providing for more autonomy. The amended Act also provided for the establishment of the Colleges Network whereby all state pre-primary, primary and secondary schools are grouped into ten colleges depending on their locality. Each college network is now a corporate body having a legal and distinct personality, guided and administered by a Head of College Network thus supporting the concept of the decentralisation of the education system.