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Cross-sectorial cooperation is fundamental in today’s society in order to provide youth with the necessary knowledge and adequate tools to fully integrate in a continuously changing labour market and actively participate in society.
Malta has integrated the following key initiatives to enable better cross-sectorial cooperation in education and training:
The Ministry for Education and Employment has always worked with relevant stakeholders within and outside the Minstry in order to solidify a comprehensive framework for the collection of data to extend pertinent policy making and implementation. The Ministry for Education and Employment carries out continuous monitoring of strategies, policies and programmes with particular emphasis on education provision for children and youth at risk while analysing their performance based on empirical evidence.
The framework for the Education Strategy for Malta 2014-2024 has four broad goals in line with European and world benchmarks:
- 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
- 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
- Increase participation in lifelong learning and adult learning
- Raise levels of student retainment and attainment in further, vocational, and tertiary education and training.
All policy measures related to education and training are connected to the framework for the Education Strategy for Malta 2014-2024.
Preventive measures being taken to make schooling more engaging and meaningful for students, pre-empting early disengagement and failure include:
- The Free Childcare Scheme (April 2014) is an initiative whereby the Maltese Government provides free childcare services to parents/guardians who are in employment or who are pursuing their education. The age group for this scheme is for children from three months up to three years of age. Free Childcare is terminated once the child is eligible to enrol into Kindergarten 1 provided by the state.
- The Migrant Learners’ Unit organises language programmes in English and Maltese for foreign students. These students were given special lessons in English and Maltese through a one-year pull-out programme.
- The Directorate for Learning and Assessment Programmes embarkes on a number of initiatives, targeted at primary and secondary education gifted and talented students in order to enrich their educational experience and to promote STEM subjects and careers among this cohort of students.
- The new Malta Visual and Performing Arts School is well-equipped in enhancing students’ high propensity towards visual and performing arts, and to further their artistic competence and ideas.
- The National Sport School is a co-ed school for students who have outstanding sport talent. The ultimate aim of the National Sport School is to guide these students along a dual career path, leading them to a successful career in sports and academic achievement.
- Parents are key stakeholders in the strategy to reduce Early School Leaving. Their valuable contribution to education and towards decreasing Early School Leaving can be seen through their involvement in the National Literacy Agency’s programmes.
- Continuous Professional Development is fundamental for educators to keep up-to-date with the dynamic nature of education and to implement educational change. The Institute for Education provides various modes of continuing professional development that inject the 21st century skills and competences into the educators at all levels of leadership and infuse equity and social justice within all the learning programmes.
Intervention measures are student-centred and are based on the multi-disciplinary support required to establish a favourable learning environment.
- Early warning systems prompt schools and relevant stakeholders within the educational system to identify and monitor early stages of potential student disengagement in order to provide timely and targeted intervention.
- The career guidance service under the remit of the National School Support Services within the Ministry for Education and Employment holds a number of initiatives in State colleges in order to entice students’ attendance and guide them on how to see the relevance of schooling with the world of work. Professionals work in a multi-disciplinary team in order to make schooling attractive for students and develop tailor-made programmes to reduce the risk of early school leavers. All students are encouraged towards further education in order to better equip themselves and acquire the necessary skills for the world of work.
- The National School Support Services Department is the owner of the ‘Respect for All Framework’, which incorporates several policy, strategy and procedure documents that both directly and indirectly target the identification and prevention of young people at risk of becoming early school leavers. The latter include: ‘Addressing Attendance in Schools’, ‘Addressing Bullying Behaviour in Schools’ and ‘Managing Behaviour in Schools’. The department’s practitioners support the implementation of the strategies and procedures listed in the three policy frameworks. Moreover, practitioners within the Safe Schools Program, which incorporates (1) the Child Safety Services (dealing with potential and actual child abuse cases); (2) the Anti-Bullying Service; and (3) Anti-Substance Abuse Service, provide also support to learners attending non-State schools (schools in the Church and Independent sectors).
The National Literacy Agency has embarked on a literacy programme aimed to increase literacy amongst the most vulnerable students. Syllabi have been revised to make them more relevant to the students. The National Literacy Agency has also developed a number of initiatives that involve both students and their parents in after-school programmes. The primary objective of these programmes is to promote a love of books among children through the involvement of their parents / caregivers.
Other organisations and entities have the common goal of save-guarding youth’s welfare even though they do not fall within MEDE’s remit. For example, the Foundation for Social Welfare Services has been running the Youth in Focus programme and the Adolescent Day programme that target young people who face extraordinarily challenging life circumstances. In line with the implementation of the National Youth Policy 2015-2020, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ revolves around the personal and social interests of young people.
In September 2015, an Education Hub was opened in order to provide a specific programme for students who experienced extensive maladjustment within mainstream secondary schools.
Unit Għożża provides a support service as well as various educational and holistic programmes for pregnant teenagers, leading them to adopt a positive attitude towards motherhood while empowering them to pursue their career path.
Concurrently, middle schools and secondary schools are developing their own in-house Core Curriculum programmes for students who find difficulty in following mainstream programmes and who may benefit from a vocational pathway. Since November 2015, the XL Programme, developed by the Prince’s Trust, is currently running in 7 secondary schools in Malta. Young people aged 13 to 16 and who are at risk of underachievement or exclusion are offered a personal development programme as an opportunity for re-engagement in education
With regard to compensation measures:
A number of institutions in Malta provide full-time education to youths who have not acquired the necessary academic qualifications required to attain MQF level 4 and who wish to further their levels of education and training. Various other flexible education and training programmes are provided by other institutions according to students’ particular requirements.
The Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability within the Ministry for Education and Employment embraces learning as a lifelong journey in which skills are acquired through a holistic approach. Besides offering guidance on lifelong learning, the directorate organises adult learning courses which are facilitated through personalised and innovative approaches to education.
The National School Support Services (NSSS) offers other educational opportunities for students with a disability who have finished compulsory school, namely the Dun Manwel Attard Young Adult Resource Centre and the Helen Keller Resource Centre.
Intensive SEC Revision Classes falling under the Youth Guarantee scheme are offered for free to students who fail in one or more of the SEC core subjects and who want to apply for the September re-sit session. Another initiative that falls under the Youth Guarantee scheme consists of Remedial Classes offered to MCAST students who failed their examinations at Levels 1, 2 or 3 and hence can be classified as potential early school leavers. Through Youth Guarantee’s ICT Course for ALP Students, educational opportunities are provided for ALP students to acquire ICT knowledge and skills in line with the demands of the labour market.
The NEET Activation Scheme II, launched by the Youth Guarantee office in July 2016, aims at re-integrating youths who are detached from education or from the labour market
Many initiatives mentioned above promote social integration at all levels. Data for every action is provided in the context of current status that needs to be considered as well as recommendations. Related stakeholders concur unanimously about the element of timely prevention, possibly at the earliest stages.
The Directorate for Digital Literacy and Transversal Skills (DDLTS), within the Ministry for Education and Employment, identifies gaps in educators' digital competence and supports them accordingly. Digital literacy support teachers, Heads of department and Education officers coordinate support for educators to make use of various technologies that are available in schools and include them in their lessons in order to engage the students and to facilitate learning. DDLTS supports also students to foster their critical and confident use of technologies as well as their digital competence development. DDLTS organises many initiatives in education to promote digital literacy, coding and computational thinking like family coding sessions and Code Week, internet safety, eTwinning, SELFIE and DigComp.
The Ministry for Education and Employment is investing in digital skills in compulsory education curriculae and through an investment in ICT infrastructure in classrooms. In primary schools digital skills have been strengthened through the ‘One Tablet per Child’ (OTPC) scheme where tablets were distributed to all students and educators in Year 4, 5 and 6 in all schools. The tablet is aimed to be an educational tool that helps students to go into deeper learning in literacy, digital literacy, numeracy, science and other areas. Students can learn anytime anywhere because the tablet facilitates collaboration, communication, creativity, character education, digital citizenship, critical thinking and computational thinking. These competences are pushed forward through the Digital Learning outcomes which are aligned with DigComp. The OTPC project aims to increase the skills and competences of students and future graduates; and to ensure that all children will be given a fair and equal opportunity to be closer to technology. Digital Skills in are cross-curricular at all compulsory levels and students are expected to use technology across all the subjects. A new ICT programme in middle schools, entitled ICT C3, has been introduced in Year 7, to replace the traditional ECDL. The new ICT C3 programme will go up till Year 11 to ensure that students will learn about safety on the net, robotics, coding and other new technologies. This is a compulsory subject in lower and upper secondary. Computing and VET IT are optional subjects which students can opt for in the secondary.
With regard to transforming teaching and learning of digital skills in a lifelong learning perspective, including the training of teachers, DDLTS is mainstreaming the EU’s digital competence framework DIGCOMP (JRC, 2017) focusing on digital literacies and 21st century skills. The Institute for Education offers a whole range of CDP courses, including courses related to digital competences, in collaboration with DDLTS. In the framework of the national project One-Tablet-Per-Child (OTPC,) all educators in Year 4, 5 and 6 have to follow the mandatory course 'Award in the use of tablets in the Primary Classrooms'. All these initiatives form part of the combined effort for the strategic implementation of the Digital Education Action Plan (EC, 2018).
Career guidance and relevant professional advice for young people
The career guidance service within the Ministry for Education and Employment contributes towards the career development as well as personal and social development of students, within a holistic approach. This includes initiatives to support students’ subject/career option choices and transitions from primary to secondary education and from secondary to post-secondary education and/or work. Career guidance services are delivered in schools by Principal Education Support Practitioners (Career Advisors), and guidance teachers through a variety of face-to-face provisions, such as on a one-to-one basis as well as in small and large groups. Career guidance services are also offered at MCAST, Junior College, Higher Secondary, and the University of Malta.
The transition co-ordinator support Year 11 students with Individual Educational Needs on the different opportunities that meet the needs of the student. This will ensure that the best possible choice of provisions is made for each student. The transition co-ordinator helps in the transition programme from secondary mainstream to post-16 provision or from Education Resource Centres to other post-16 provisions, Adult Services or employment opportunities. The Transition co-ordinator organises orientation visits to the different provisions and prepare profiles and action plans for each student’s transition programme.
The career guidance platform, provides all the information needed, such as careers within specific sectors by means of videos, a quiz/personality test which determines one’s career aptitudes and a description of several post-secondary courses and the respective entry requirements for students to decide on which career path they will choose.
Other services include:
- Talks by employers, career orientation visits and one-week career exposure experiences for students at the place of work.
- Euroguidance Malta which falls under the remit of the National Schools Support Services within the Ministry for Education and Employment in collaboration with other entities such as the Malta Career Guidance Association organises continuous professional development opportunities for career guidance practitioners within the education and employment sectors so that practitioners are better equipped to guide students or adults accordingly.
-Interactive career websites aim of addressing the information given to young people aged 11-15 about their future career choices.
Validation of non-formal and informal learning
The Validation of Non-Formal and Informal Learning (VINFL) in Malta is regulated by Subsidiary Legislation 327.432, Validation of Non-Formal and Informal Learning regulations of September 2012. Under the remit of this legislation and as per Article 6(1) of SL327.433, the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE) has been entrusted with VNFIL in Malta. Subsidiary Legislation 327.432 determines that the NCFHE must establish Sector Skills Units (SSU), the members of which must include representatives from a number of industry relevant stakeholders The main roles of the SSU are to develop national occupational standards, a set of job related standards for occupations in their respective sectors. By the end of 2018, the NCFHE had set up a total of 8 SSUs covering the following industries/ sectors: · Automotive; · Health and Social Care; · Education Support; · Hospitality and Tourism; · Hair and Beauty; · Construction and Building Services; · Printing and Digital Media; · IT
Throughout 2018, validation assessment was expanded to new areas such as hairdressing, block laying and beauty which gave the chance to individuals from a wider range of occupations to apply for validation. All individuals who passed their validation assessment were given an award for their occupation and MQF level.
Work-based vocational competences are integrated in Malta’s educational and training programmes emphasising on quality qualifications whilst: increasing economic competitiveness and ensuring that the skills gap between education and work is addressed, producing a skilled labour force which responds better to the labour market needs.
- At compulsory education level:
One of the successful measures undertaken by Malta was the implementation of 5 vocational subjects in both state and non-state secondary schools. These subjects are hospitality, health and social care, agri-business, information technology, and engineering technology. In scholastic year 2019/20, 4 more vocational subjects were introduced; namely media literacy, hairdressing and beauty, retail, fashion and textiles.
The Learning Outcomes Framework (LOF) was applied to the syllabi of these subjects. The principal aims of the LOF are to free schools and learners from centrally-imposed knowledge-centric syllabi, and to give them the freedom to develop programmes that fulfil the framework of knowledge, attitudes and skills-based outcomes that are considered national education entitlement of all learners.
As of September 2019, through the ‘My Journey: achieving through different paths: equitable quality education for all’ reform, secondary school students can choose from academic, vocational and applied subjects in addition to the core curriculum. During scholastic year 2019/20, 60% of Year 9 students have chosen at least one vocational or applied subject. A national careers web portal and events such as I Choose were developed. Students and parents/guardians are guided through the subject choosing process and have access to all information on the different subject options through the 3 routes.
The My Journey reform involves moving away from a 'one size fits all' system to a more inclusive and equitable programme. The aim is to respond to different education needs and give parity of esteem to general, vocational and applied subjects. The new system builds on the current one but ambitiously moves forward in democratising academic, vocational and applied learning for all students within a framework of parity of esteem. It retains key competences and sustains traditional academic learning programmes. Complementarily, vocational subjects and applied learning programmes leading up to MQF Level 3, are also made available to all students and are provided within the same school and in all secondary schools. Applied learning is comparable and equivalent to the academic and vocational education and accredited up to MQF Level 3. Following compulsory education, students may opt to continue their studies at the University of Malta (UM), Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST), Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS) or another higher education institution of their choice.
The introduction of equitable learning programmes enables more quality time for in-depth learning whilst increasing learning opportunities, eliminating dead ends and easing labour market entry. My Journey seeks to promote increased links between education and industry. Close cooperation between schools and workplaces assures the currency of subject learning outcomes (SLOs), provides real-life work environments thus warranting the assimilation of the aims of work life, establishes fruitful relationships with companies and facilitates the learning of entrepreneurship competencies. These processes contribute to their development of expertise in the occupation that cannot be simulated in a school-based environment. The reform offers the possibility to choose vocational and/or applied paths at the age of 12, and is implemented in a manner that intends to make learning more inclusive, flexible and without dead-ends, to give more young people opportunities to develop employability and skills for personal and social development. In order to avoid that students may leave compulsory education not being well equipped with those key competences that could allow later re-skilling and up-skilling, the My Journey reform will also include new learning programmes in the core subjects (Mathematics, English, Maltese and Science) targeted at students following applied programmes. In this regard, a new certification is being introduced. The Secondary Education Applied Certificate (SEAC) run by the MATSEC board will certify 9 applied option subjects and 5 core subjects.
At post-secondary education level:
In March 2018, the Work-based Learning and Apprenticeship Act came into force, providing regulations and governance and administration of accredited training programmes for work-placements, apprenticeships and internships for VET purposes.
The Work-based Learning and Apprenticeship Act aims at strengthening work-based learning by: • setting definitions and operational parameters for work placements, apprenticeships and internships; • outlining responsibilities and governance structures (such as National Skills Council, Sector Skills Units); • defining rights and obligations for VET providers, employers and learners; • highlighting the role of employers as responsible learning partners; • setting a compulsory minimum number of hours for all forms of work-based learning and linking remuneration to the minimum wage; • using ECVET/ECTS in all forms of work-based learning; • introducing a single EQF-based apprenticeship qualification replacing the dual certification currently in place; • launching a training agreements register to support data collection and policy-relevant analysis by the national skills council
As Malta’s leading vocational college, the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) is the VET institution responsible for governing and managing the Apprenticeship system at national level in Malta, and has been working to raise the quality of apprenticeships so as to strike a balance between theoretical and on-the-job training and hence enable the apprentice to obtain long-term employability. The Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship Act provides regulations and governance and administration of accredited training programmes for work-placements, apprenticeships and internships for VET purposes.
Through this Act, Malta has now introduced a system where apprentices get first-hand knowledge of how the industry works, and are able to see clearly, what they would like to pursue as a career. All apprentices now have the opportunity to obtain the qualifications they need in the specific field chosen, while being able to put the skills they learn into practice at the same time, with the assistance of experts who are always be on-hand to show them how things are done.
As at August 2019, MCAST has 820 students registered on apprenticeship programmes. Students are expected to do from 700 -1400 hrs in industry depending on their programme of studies and the tripartite contract signed with their employer and the college. In the majority of cases this translates into 3 days of study and two days in industry during the academic year and then 40 hours weekly in summer for two years.
In relation to work-based learning, MCAST is also implementing a project on ‘Achieving Vocational Excellence through enhanced Work Based Learning’ which aims to making VET more attractive to students, whilst providing a more competent workforce that can cater for current and future industrial requirements.
The project will involve the development and delivery of a mentoring training programme to MCAST lecturers and staff. Furthermore, training and information sessions will also be organised for industry sponsors. MCAST will map out the number of apprenticeship per area and the learning outcomes which can be offered by each participant employer. This monitoring will be achieved through the development of a comprehensive competency framework and use of an analysis tool.
In addition, six emulative centres will be set up with the main aim to tackle labour market mismatches and provide students with innovative work-based competences by simulating real working environments.
In 2019, MCAST also launched a new suite of MQF Level 6 Degree Apprenticeships in Biomedical Engineering, Construction Engineering, Software Development, Multimedia Software Development, Computer Systems and Networks, and Fashion. Students following such degree apprenticeships will be able to achieve a recognized Bachelor’s Degree while simultaneously getting paid for gaining valuable work experience.
At MCAST, the Skills Kit is a programme intended for students who prefer to study at their own pace and explore different vocational areas. It is made up of a number of Skills Kits (small bite-size topics) covering various vocational areas as well as personal skills and employability skills. The programme gives the students the possibility to choose how many Skills Kits to study over a period of time. It also gives the students the opportunity to choose their own combination of Skills Kits consisting of MQF Level 1 short courses (20 hours) which they would like to register for.
The Ministry for Education and Employment has four Directors General (DGs) that are responsible for different education Departments. Each Department has a number of Directorates headed by a Director. The DGs are sectioned as follows:
The Directorate General for Curriculum, Research, Innovation and Lifelong Learning is composed of the Learning and Assessment Programmes Directorate, Research, Innovation and Lifelong Learning, Digital Literacy and Transversal skills. This DG is in charge to sustain a knowledge-based economy, learning as a lifelong pursuit is the key to success and to ensure a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It offers adult learning classes in several areas of knowledge and it is also contributing towards a strong base of high level graduates by offering scholarships in several priority sectors of the knowledge-based economy.
The Directorate General for Educational Services (DES) is in charge to ensure the effective and efficient operation and delivery of services to the Colleges State schools within an established framework of decentralisation and autonomy. (College Principals, National School, Education Resources, Education for all, Migrant Learners, Education Logistics and Support, Schools Internal Review and Support).
The Directorate General Strategy and Support the departments that fall within this remit are the International Affairs, Strategy and Programme Implementation, Finance and Administration and Human Resources.
The Directorate General for Quality and Standards in Education’s (DQSE) role is to regulate, establish, monitor and assure standards and quality in the programmes and educational services at the compulsory level of education provided by State and non-State schools. The functions of the DQSE are established by the Education Act (CAP 327 of the Laws of Malta).As part of the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (DQSE) the mission of the Quality Assurance directorate is to establish and ensure high quality educational standards that promote well-being through the programmes and educational services provided by Maltese State and Non-State Schools, as provided for in the Education Act.
Officially appointed agencies/public actors within the Ministry of Education and Employment
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ mainstreams youth related issues and further develop youth services. It enables further investment in young people and helps them realise their potential.
English Language Teaching Council (ELTC) fosters the ELT Profession and Industry in all its various aspects.
European Union Programmes Agency (EUPA) implements and manages the Erasmus+ Programme, previous programmes and other programmes and initiatives of the European Union.
The Examinations Directorate is responsible for the administration of the examinations for induction into the Public Service, public corporations and commercial partnerships in which the State has majority shareholding, intra-Service written Examinations; examinations for the issue of Local Licences; examinations on behalf of their parties. The Department also acts as an agent for Local and Overseas Examining Bodies responsible for the award of Academic, Vocational and Professional Qualifications.
The Foundation for Educational Services (FES) works concurrently with the Education Directorates to provide a range of innovative educational initiatives to meet the needs of the community. The FES is committed to ensuring that all service users are supported through informal educational initiatives. It strives to offer quality educational services through structured contemporary programmes, financial sustainability and ethical behaviour.
The Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools (FTS) is the public entity in Malta responsible for the construction of Malta and Gozo's State-owned schools.
The Institute for Education promotes high quality education for all educators and fosters learning communities of the highest standard, educational leaders at all levels and instils education with equity and social justice.
JobsPlus enhances accessibility to the labour market through modernised and targeted services, whilst facilitating labour mobility and promoting investment in human capital. Jobsplus has provided thousands of local jobseekers and employers with successful and rewarding work experiences by empowering, assisting and training jobseekers; promoting workforce development; and assisting employers in their recruitment and training needs.
The Malta Libraries are responsible for the National Library of Malta, the National Library (Gozo), the Central Public Library, the Gozo Public Library, and all Regional and Branch Public Libraries in the Maltese Islands. The mission of Malta Libraries is to ensure the collection and conservation of Malta’s documentary heritage for present and future generations, to maintain and develop the libraries regulated under the Malta Libraries Act, and to encourage reading for study, research, self-development and life long learning information and leisure purposes.
The Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) is a leading vocational education and training institution. It has six Institutes in Malta and the Gozo Campus and offers 185 full-time and over 300 part-time vocational courses ranging from certificates to degrees (MQF Level 1 to Level 6). Students are prepared for careers in different sectors of the economy or for higher education.
The National Archives is currently working on the appraisal and cataloguing of an extensive backlog of records of post-Independence Malta. It is also preparing itself to face the challenge of managing electronic records.
The National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE) fosters the development and achievement of excellence in further and higher education in Malta through research, effective licensing, accreditation, quality assurance and recognition of qualifications established under the Malta Qualifications Framework.
The National Literacy Agency (NLA) seeks to promote and enhance lifelong and life wide, high quality literacy practices among children, youth, adults, third country nationals and persons with learning difficulties. It also strives to improve literacy outcomes, resulting in inclusive practices, higher educational qualifications, and better job prospects.
The Scholarships and National Skills Council Unit aim to first review the past and present available skills within our labour work force and evaluate the changes required to meet current and future needs. The main aim being that to minimise the skill gaps that exist in some of the demanding and rewarding sectors such as the digital, technical and financial sectors where Malta is, and can maintain, excellence. It is the council’s task to recommend policy changes to the government that would reduce these gaps and prepare the labour force with the right skills, to meet the future challenges.
SportMalta is Malta’s national sport agency. Its core purpose is to inspire Maltese and transform the nation through sport. Its role is to also create greater sporting opportunities and access, more inclusivity and integration as well as broader development of capabilities.
The Students’ Maintenance Grants’ Board’s main functions are to: oversee the effective allocation and payments of Students’ Maintenance Grants to students; offer guidelines and regularly review procedures in the management and implementation of all the stages leading up to payments of Students’ Maintenance Grants to students; oversee the effective assessment, review and payment of Supplementary Grants to students; process reports submitted from educational institutions and apply any sanctions when necessary; oversee the management of payments and take action to recover any overpaid Students’ Maintenance Grants; recommend changes to already-existing policies to improve the support the student receives.
The University of Malta is the highest teaching institution in Malta. It is publicly funded and is open to all those who have the requisite qualifications.
Other social partners contributing to the development of policies in the field of education and training are the following: The Malta Union of Teachers; School Councils; Junior College Students' Council; The Kunsill Studenti Universitarji (KSU) and Student Organisations within KSU
All local entities and authorities with their respective responsibilities fall under the portfolio for Education and Employment. The organisational structure of the Ministry for Education and Employment can be found in this organigram.