The country has a number of foundations which it relies on to function and cultivate progress. Education is usually high on the agenda. But what is the educational experience? Education’s soul doesn’t lie solely within buildings or tablets. It rests with the educator in a classroom. It is the transfer of knowledge, and the planting of the seed of creativity, critical thinking, social justice, active citizenship within a just inclusion framework.
The agreement reached on an improved financial package for educators in schools is an important milestone as the focus moves towards a high quality educational experience in schools both for our educators and students. This is another addition to a growing list of deliverables that are changing the face of education. It started some years back, when it was clear that the one-size-fits-all model was letting down a considerable amount of young people. We cannot wait further in changing the prescriptive syllabi that hinder deep learning and in changing the selective way our students are assessed. Another milestone will be reached in September 2019, when the targeted vocational and applied education initiatives will become part of the fabric of our education system, through the ‘My Journey’ proposals. I stress however this implementation will not keep us behind in putting all our efforts for a continued progression and ongoing improvements on the current academic subjects.
This will allow for more opportunities and flexibility into the so-called mainstream system because new vocational and applied programmes and different forms of assessments, based on the learning by doing concept, will be equitably established in our secondary schools, and all under the same roof. Students will have the opportunity of either selecting a specific route or mix different academic, vocational and applied subjects. This will, in turn, engage students because we will have a wider net to catch their interest. Engaging students is very important because it is proven to reduce disciplinary problems. With just one formula, the highly selective and conservative academic route, it was increasingly difficult to do so for a good share of our students. The vocational and applied routes will have equivalent status with value added in terms of quality, delivery and accreditation of the current subjects leading to further education, training and sustainable employment. This is a very important concept – we did not want to provide inferior programmes.
Being a teacher is no easy task nowadays. The challenges are ample – schools are an exciting place where different areas of society are joined, but social challenges pile up there too. It doesn’t become more evident than in a classroom. In recent years there’s been a lot of investment in tools and technology. Now is the time to invest in our talent, and there is plenty of that. Educators in our schools are hard-working, passionate and genuinely have the well-being and progress of the children at heart. We must continue working to make sure we give them every opportunity to grow further.
Ultimately, all this has one goal. We still have a decreasing, but still substantial, number of young people who are disillusioned by the education system. They feel they get nothing from it. This usually leads to bigger problems further down the line. The goal is to offer a valuable, relevant and sustainable experience which will lead to more opportunities for them. They can learn, develop their values, grow and acquire skills. We want them to be creative, passionate and full of imagination. This journey has already started.
Dr Frank Fabri
Ministry for Education and Employment