Malta:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education
- Belgium (Flemish Community)
- Belgium (French Community)
- Belgium (German-Speaking Community)
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom (England)
- United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)
- United Kingdom (Scotland)
- United Kingdom (Wales)
Early Childhood and School Education
The National Minimum Curriculum (NMC) elaborates extensively on the European, global and intercultural dimension in the curriculum. In an interdependent world, the European and global perspective in education allows students to become aware that much of what is taking place in our country is conditioned by external events. The fundamental shared European values of love, family, respect, inclusion, social justice, solidarity, democracy, commitment and responsibility are specifically referred to within various sections of the NMC. Areas such as citizenship, democracy and the environment are promoted within the classroom to make students aware that everyday choices affect democratic values as well as sustainability of life on earth. Information and Communication Technology has brought about the reality of global classrooms with the added awareness of issues and responsibilities.
The NMC emphasises that schools are key institutions within civil society which should serve as testing grounds for democracy. They should foster awareness about rights together with a sense of respect and responsibilities towards others. The NMC refers to a society becoming increasingly multicultural which requires systems which enable students to develop a sense of respect, cooperation and solidarity amongst cultures. The ability to enjoy freedom, peace and security governed by law and order enables individuals to co-exist despite their differences. The educational system therefore enables students to understand these individual, local and regional differences so as to enable them to live productive and meaningful lives in contexts which are characterised by socio-cultural diversity.
Values enunciated in the NMC are gradually inculcated throughout the educational process and permeates a number of subjects especially Social Studies, Religious Knowledge, History, Geography and Personal and Social Development. Through Social Studies students learn about the various and international organisations and institutions, including the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the Euro-Mediterranean dimension, their structure, their aims and the more important activities that are relevant to a student’s and a citizen’s life. Through Personal and Social Development, individuals learn about democratic rights and responsibilities as well as personal and social life skills required to live in a multicultural society. Citizenship and democracy are modelled throughout the lessons as well as discussed specifically in key lessons which address these skills.
The teaching and learning of foreign languages includes a component of the culture of the country where the foreign language is spoken. Through such components students appreciate and understand more the language as well as the culture, way of life and context within which it is spoken. This component is part of the Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) syllabus.
The Curriculum Management and eLearning Department (CmeLD) has also established a programme of foreign language initiation in Years 5 and 6 of Primary school. This programme, modelled on similar lines to the Italian awareness programme which has been running for the past four scholastic years, intends raising language awareness. Through exposing students to the beauty of language diversity as early as possible, it is intended to instil in them a love of foreign languages and different cultures. The programme is being implemented by a group of teachers of Italian, French and German.
European Studies is a specialised subject option taught at upper secondary level of education. Students have an opportunity to improve their knowledge of Europe and the different cultures. It addresses the role of Europe within a wider international and global perspective with special reference to the Euro-Mediterranean especially in relation to human rights and citizenship. Skills, attitudes and values which foster intercultural understanding and acceptance are addressed throughout the subject.
Presently a new National Curriculum Framework is being presented for consultation with the various stakeholders.
Projects and Initiatives within Schools
Various projects are undertaken within schools which address the international dimension. Most of these projects fall under the auspices of international organisations such as the European Union, the Council of Europe and UNESCO.
Schools are regularly informed through circulars of initiatives launched under the auspices of international organisations. The school community, led by the Head of School, then decides in which initiative to participate. Examples include; the Child Friendly Schools Project (CFS), the Steering Committee for Education (CDED) within the Council of Europe and the Commonwealth of Learning within which falls the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC).
Each school has a student council which is democratically elected. An election is held among those students who show an interest to be elected to the Student Council which represents the whole student body. These student representatives then serve for a period of time ranging from one to two years as the particular school may decide. The set-up of the school’s Student Councils gives students a voice and a role in the school which serves as an important opportunity for personal development whilst fostering greater responsibility. Through liaising with the school’s Senior Management Team the student council puts forward proposals and suggestions which are essential for the development of the school.
Promoting equality vis-à-vis migrants
All migrant minor children from third countries are integrated into educational institutions at all levels from pre-school to higher education and encouraged to study both the Maltese and English languages. Compulsory school age children (5 – 16) of third country nationals are integrated into primary and secondary schooling with local students. To further address the issue of educational entitlement of unaccompanied minors and children of asylum seekers, at the start of the scholastic year 2009/2010 an Advisory Group was set up to address this issue.
Preparatory work is done with the staff of residential homes where these minors are accommodated, including Heads of Homes, social workers and psychologists, prior to introducing the minors into schools. The aim is to build a profile of each student ascertaining their educational attainment level. A teacher has also been identified to facilitate students’ entry into schools and their inclusion. Preparatory work is carried out prior to their eventual entry into schools.
Parallel to this programme, teachers within the receiving school lay the foundation for the learners’ inclusion especially in secondary schools. A number of meetings to facilitate this transition are held with College Principals, Heads of School, subject teachers, Personal and Social Development teachers and Guidance teachers. Peer preparation is usually carried out by PSD teachers. After a month of preparation pupils start attending schools where they follow Physical Education, Art, Home economics and I.C.T. Gradually they are invited to take up a full time-table. Once the established criteria for smooth entry into schools are completed, students are then treated in the same manner as local students and required to follow the full time-table and procedures. Improvement in the programme is on-going with further developments into the post-secondary opportunities for students.
Participation in ICCS
In 2009 Malta participated in the International Civic and Citizenship Education (ICCS) study. This study analyses the preparedness of students on the meaning of citizenship and the roles of and approaches to civic and citizenship education. This study has provided Malta with a clearer picture of this area through the results obtained which can then be utilised by educators to enhance this area of the curriculum.
Global Citizenship education projects
Connectando Mundos is a project which encourages and supports intercultural dialogue among youth from different social and geographical contexts. It promotes Development Education in the context of Citizenship Education within educational institutes in Malta so as to make its main themes and methodologies more fully integrated into the education of students of all ages. Through effective use of Information and Communications Technology participants have an opportunity of getting to know each other whilst sharing the diverse realities and discovering common problems within the context of “Think Global, Act local”.
The organising team is made up of four non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from four European and Mediterranean countries, namely Cidac from Portugal, Intermón Oxfam from Spain, Ucodep from Italy and Inizjamed from Malta, and is part-supported by the EuropeAid programme of the EU.
The EkoSkola programme, launched in 1994 by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and coordinated by Nature Trust (Malta), aims at mobilising the whole school. It intends empowering students to adopt an active role in environmental decision-making and take action in their schools and community. EkoSkola helps to improve the quality of life of the school community by:
- Democratising the process of decision making.
- Setting relevant targets for the improvement of the school’s environment.
- Designing and implementing a plan, in line with the school’s resources, to achieve these targets.
- Integrating curriculum work within the day-to-day realities of the school community.
- Exploring ways of fostering team-work within the school as well as the community in which it is located.
- Networking and sharing experiences and expertise with other local and foreign schools.
Schools are required to include within their School Development Plan a School Environmental Policy which incorporates deliberate choices for the day-to-day effective implementation of an environmental ethic which gradually becomes an integral part of the school ethos. Once these established goals and standards are successfully achieved the Green Flag, which is a prestigious eco-label testifying the school’s commitment to fostering sustainable lifestyles, is awarded.
Connecting Classrooms is a partnership programme offered through the British Council which aims at building lasting partnerships between schools in the UK and others around the world. Through these partnerships, apart from enriching the teachers’ and pupils’ language learning experience, trust and understanding between young people in different cultures is developed. The project was launched in September 2010 and involved the participation of ten Maltese schools.
All schools involved in Connecting Classrooms:
- work with partner schools on collaborative curriculum projects, which enable learners to interact across geographical boundaries to enhance their understanding of each other’s societies, languages and cultures.
- receive professional development training for teachers and school leaders, which builds capacity to support international partnerships and to lead the school in an international environment.
- are supported to work towards full International School Award accreditation, which recognises the school’s commitment to forming international partnerships and developing global citizens.
- become part of a global online community that enables teachers to network with one another in a range of teacher forums, and offers guidance in the use of ICT tools that develop and sustain partnerships.
Every year schools participate in the World Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child, often called the ‘Children’s Nobel Prize’. This prize, based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, teaches pupils about the rights of children, democracy and the environment.
UNESCO National Commission
The UNESCO National Commission encourages Malta’s participation in the UNESCO educational programmes and promotes a number of projects on a regular basis. The UNESCO club has been active for several decades promoting mutual understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures. One needs to remark that UNESCO works closely with both the Council of Europe and the European Union in the field of education and together these three promote together a number of initiatives.
European Union Projects and Initiatives
Spring Day in Europe 2009
This project brings closer the European Union to the students’ realities whilst having the opportunity to learn more about the EU and its institutions. Through voicing their concerns and views about the future young European students identify ways how to join forces with European institutions for better dialogue and understanding of European democratic developments. In 2009, the year for Creativity and Innovation, the motto ‘Ideas Move Europe’ was selected. Thirteen local schools registered online with Spring Day for Europe 2009 and participated in activities and competitions held both locally and also online. A total of 1,600 schools took part in this initiative. Two local schools, St Nicholas College Mtarfa Boys' Secondary and St Benedict College Tarxien Girls' Secondary, won awards in competitions organised in the participating countries.
DVD Carbon Footprints
As part of the Spring Day in Europe 2009 activities, a DVD addressing global warming and climate change both locally and globally was distributed to primary and secondary schools. This DVD was produced by the European Commission Representation in Malta, the Ministry of Resources and Rural Affairs and Reel8 Productions in collaboration with the Meteorological Office at Malta International Airport.
European Development Youth Prize 2008/2009
European Schoolnet in Brussels organised a poster competition open to all students in Europe between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. The theme selected was Gender Equality, Children and Youth and Cultural Diversity. Two national winners travelled to Stockholm in October 2009 where they were awarded their prizes by the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid at the fair entitled ‘European Development Days’. One of the Maltese students was among the finalists who went on a five-day trip to an African country to get first-hand experience about development cooperation between the two continents. The aim of the competition was to raise awareness about how development cooperation between Europe and Africa works. A number of students from three post-secondary schools participated in this competition.
Europa Diaries 2009 – 2010
The Europa Diary, together with teacher’s guide, funded by the European Commission, produced by the Generation Europe Foundation in cooperation with the Consumer Affairs Directorate within the Consumer and Competition Division, was distributed to each College. This new edition of the Europa Diary addresses a number of new topics including sustainable food production, renewable sources of energy, health policy-making, globalisation and even sustainable tourism. It also includes the European Union, consumer and environmental issues, trade, external relations, development aid and fundamental human rights. The teacher’s guide complements the Europa Diary and proposes activities to be run in conjunction with the editorial content of the Diary. It also includes worksheets and suggestions for lesson plans.
Other Current European Programmes
- The European School Challenge is a programme which ran between September 2010 and May 2011. This programme invited teachers and students to take part in international challenging competitions.
- Science-on-Stage-Festival is a European initiative which invites teachers from EU countries to share innovative science teaching ideas. Maltese teachers will be participating in this Science Fair which is going to take place in Copenhagen in 2011. The Festival’s purpose is to increase interest, sharing of knowledge and good practice about primary and upper secondary education in natural sciences.
- The project Global Action Schools2Communities (S2C) is being implemented in Malta by the NGO KOPIN (VO/0200) until February 2012, and is financed through EuropeAid (European Commission) and Betsson Malta Ltd. This project aims to encourage Maltese schools to become active in global issues and to collaborate with other institutions within their communities, such as Local Councils. At present, thirty-two Maltese schools are participating in the project.
- The activities of the Council of Europe are diverse and cover the various areas and different levels of education. Active participation in committees, projects, programmes, workshops, seminars, conferences, publications and other initiatives by schools and institutions of higher education involving students, teachers and lecturers, educational administrators and policy makers has been going on for several decades since Malta became a member in 1965. Schools participate in the Europe at School Project under the joint patronage of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the European Cultural Foundation and the European Commission. Every year, teachers avail themselves of Council of Europe bursaries to attend seminars and workshops of the Council of Europe offered as part of the Teachers’ Bursary Scheme. Maltese teachers and education officials regularly take part in the programme run by the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) at Graz, Austria.