Education remains an unconditional priority - EDU

Education remains an unconditional priority

Education has and always will remain a principal theme of Nationalist Party politics. In this sense, education lies firmly at the heart of PN politics primarily because of a profound belief that the development of knowledge and training remain the key to success for every individual who wishes to better himself or herself in life. As Nationalists we believe that education provides the necessary tools that, coupled with the just motivation, enhances not only the individual but contributes to a better and healthier society.

This belief in education has been constantly maintained throughout the last 25 years as successive Nationalist administrations (barring the 1996-1998 Sant government) invested millions into Malta’s educational system. The system’s transformation is next to incredible given the state it was in, in 1987.

 This wall of money has gone towards the re-building of schools and its attendant infrastructure. Much more has been ploughed into re-building traditional courses and introducing new learning techniques,methodologies and opportunities at every level imaginable, from basic kindergarten up to and beyond tertiary and post-graduate levels.

Only a couple of weeks ago, our country was awarded another confirmation that recognises the progress and quality achieved in our national educational field.

The recently published World Economic Forum (WEF) report examined the levels of competitiveness achieved across 144 countries throughout last year. The report examines the various levels of performance achieved by each individual nation and the progress garnered as it seeks to extrapolate each country’s competitiveness levels. In this year’s Global Competitiveness Report Malta placed a respectable 47th placing, an improvement of four on the last WEF report.

Yet it was more significant to read through the conclusions reached by WEF especially regarding Malta’s performance and progress achieved in the educational sector. Once again WEF confirmed the island’s progress and lauded Malta’s accomplishments especially for the strengthening of its comprehensive education and its focus on life-long learning.

The report also notes the efforts to promote on-the-job training for skilled and non-skilled workers both in the work place and beyond.

For these efforts WEF ranked Malta in the first 10. In fact, Malta placed 7th with another small group of countries. Alongside Malta are economic heavyweights such as Norway, Denmark, Austria and the United Arab Emirates. In the case of the former three not only are their economic resources significantly larger than ours but also enjoy a much longer historical educational process and development.

Sadly, all these and other similar results do not go down well with the opposition Labour Party. For many years, PL has consistently criticised and attempted to savage the efforts made to re-build our educational system.

Time and again PL has transformed education into an inevitable political football. Its exponents for education, who I believe should or do know better, have missed the wood for the trees in a vain attempt to denigrate the efforts and accomplishments achieved throughout these years. Sadly, it would be foolish to forget that some of these people were politically active when Socialist administrations actually banned computers, shut down MCAST and did their very best to dismantle Church schools. Some of these people were also protagonists in the two-year Labour stint between 1996 and 1998 when they started fiddling with the stipend system with its’ resultant anxieties and uncertainties.

The ongoing educational reform is a delicate and complex process. It seeks to re-shape and modernise a system that is even today, twenty-five years later, still suffering from elements of the reckless Labour experiments of the past.

 Experiments that had an adverse effect on each level of education and which have taken time to repair and re-adjust. Undoubtedly, tranquillity has long been restored in the educational sector but it takes time, money and lots of dedicated professionals to catch up while the country continues to enhance its citizens’ skills in technology, informatics and research and development.

Once again it would be foolish to forget that today almost 12,000 students attend university compared to the measly 700 undergraduates who were ‘permitted’ to enjoy tertiary education in 1987, having run the gauntlet of numerus clausus, the 20-point system, compulsory learning of the Arabic language and the student worker scheme.

The Nationalist Party in government has remained true to its promise of building an educational system of excellence. A system that today seeks to benefit each and every child both in terms of learning and actual conditions. It is significant and worth noting that this country is spending no less than €6000 a year on each and every schoolchild.

A mighty effort for a nation that is so small and boasts very limited resources.
It is with all this in mind that during these celebrations of Malta’s Independence, the Nationalist Party commends its achievements for our country in the field of education.

 The PN seeks to remind us that it has kept its promise to build and sustain an enviable educational system. Of course much more is needed to make the system even more inclusive and improve the rates of students extending their academic lives beyond school leaving age.

This will surely be a challenge for the next administration, hopefully with a fresh mandate in a few months’ time, so that PN will continue along this path that keeps education at the centre of its political strategy for our nation.

No comments:

Post a Comment