In Malta education is compulsory from ages 5 to 16. Instruction is given in both Maltese and English. Approximately 30 percent of students attend church and private schools, which are regulated by the Ministry of Education. All special education programs are provided in state schools. Special needs children are mainstreamed as much as possible. The National Minimum Curriculum has made environmental education compulsory in primary and secondary schools. The curriculum is varied, but language studies are given great importance. By law the teachings of the Catholic Church that are taught in Catholic schools must be included in the state school curriculum.
Education in Malta is highly centralized, with national standards and examinations, though schools are encouraged to develop individual identities. Students in state schools complete six years of primary education and then take noncompetitive qualifying examinations for admission into junior lyceums. The first three years of secondary education are followed in either a junior lyceum or secondary school. Students may also enroll in a trade school for vocational training. At the end of secondary education, students take either the University of Malta's Secondary Education Certificate or General Certificate of Education examinations to qualify for university admission.
Approximately 60 percent of Maltese students continue education after completing compulsory studies. In addition to traditional university studies, Malta offers a range of vocational training opportunities. The Extended Skills Training Scheme and Technician Apprenticeship Scheme are provided by the state. Students enrolling in these vocational programs receive allowances.
In 1998 the Ministry of Education announced the need to reform the tertiary education system to produce "a well educated and trainable work force" in order to help Malta compete in a global economy. Government officials, industrial leaders, and educational consultants argued that for too long vocational programs had been largely dismissed as schools for the less able. Recognizing the need for highly trained technicians, greater emphasis was given to reforming vocational education and educating the public about its role and purpose. In the late 1990s Malta devoted a higher percentage of its GDP on education than any other country applying for admission to the European Union, but had the lowest spending of any applicant country on vocational education and training. Experts called for reform to unite the efforts of training programs operated by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labor. These programs had long operated independently and failed to coordinate activities. Efforts were made to include female students in engineering and other vocational training programs.
Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceMalta - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Secondary Education, Higher Education - PREPRIMARY PRIMARY EDUCATION, NONFORMAL EDUCATION, SUMMARY