KSU believes that a change is needed in the educational system in order to decrease the number of students who are leaving compulsory education early and also to reduce the illiteracy amongst these students in Malta and Gozo, which is higher than the average in other European Union States.
The Hon. Minister Evarist Bartolo proposed that that the school leaving age be raised from sixteen to eighteen years old. The council believes that such an initiative, if properly implemented, may be one of the solutions for these problems. However, an in-depth study of the current Maltese education system needs to be done beforehand and of the effects such an initiative will have on it.
By raising the school leaving age, the students will be given the opportunity to acquire additional skills through compulsory education. These skills will certainly benefit the students who are seeking employment and will make them more eligible to different skilled jobs. This was seen in other countries such as England and Wales, where the increase in the school leaving age led to an increase in the number of skilled jobs, leading to an increase in the economic growth.
Although there are such benefits linked to raising the school leaving age group, KSU believes that this should only be implemented after discussions amongst the different stakeholders of the Education system, including the students, are held. The success of such a policy depends on its quality and the choices of both academic curricula and training schemes. It is useless to keep the students attending the Education institutions, if they are not given quality education.
KSU would also like to recognise and show it’s satisfaction towards all the efforts that the Ministry for Education and Employment is doing to reduce the number of students that are leaving the compulsory education and also to reduce the illiteracy amongst them. The mentioned proposal should be linked to the already ongoing strategy and schemes such as the Youth Guarantee Scheme, the Strategic Plan for Prevention for Early School Leaving in Malta and the National Literacy Strategy for All, which was launched this morning. The latter scheme will also help to improve the worrying results obtained by Malta in the International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)
KSU will continue to discuss this issue with the relevant bodies and ensure that an in-depth study is done. Moreover, this will be discussed with all the members of the Education Commission branch of the council, made up of all the Student Representatives from each Faculty, University of Malta Council, University of Malta Senate and Junior College, to ensure that a student-centered approach is taken regarding this issue.