Draft National Curriculum: AD's feedback

In its official comments on the National Minimum Curriculum, Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party said that the curriculum has various positive aspects, but it should have delved deeper into the type of society which Malta wants.

Mario Mallia, AD spokesperson for Education, said: “The draft national curriculum attempts to look at the direction of education for the next 5 to 7 years. It is an exercise in imagination and collective reflection for which AD is grateful. AD feels that a curriculum is never neutral. What is included and what is left out involves political choices. It has ideological underpinnings which make the exercise a site of contestation. AD feels that the draft framework should have delved deeper into the type of society the framework would like to work towards”.

“AD agrees wholeheartedly with the emphasis on curricular themes. This provides a paradigm shift from a fragmented world view which the current system promotes. In AD’s view this provides an excellent vehicle for a critical education which should be the hallmark of a relevant and vibrant curriculum framework. The fact that traditional subjects shall be organized into themes also provides further scope for educators to work together. This need in our education system which needs to be reflected in Maltese society as a whole is however not given the attention it deserves. Whilst inter-curricular themes proposed cover the development of the individual, there is no specific mention of the need to develop the cooperative and community model in education. AD feels that this is an aspect that is overlooked at our own peril and that of our society’s future. Cooperative education should therefore feature as an inter-curricular theme, as should a critical education and an education for democracy. AD also believes that more needs to be done to address the issue of student voice as an essential component of our educational process”.

“Alternattiva Demokratika feels that the framework is skewed towards the view that the role of education is primarily to satisfy economic needs. AD suggests that whilst the economy is an important component in any educational proposition, it feels that for the child to be placed at the very centre, the role of education should never be viewed as having a subservient role to the economy. Children should never be viewed as malleable material to be stuffed into economic pigeon holes, but rather as intelligent and transformative individuals who have the skills to be active and fulfilled in the world of work. Issues of social justice and collective responsibility need to be provided their pride of place”.

“The framework is also characterised by a tension between the declared intention of providing more autonomy and flexibility to schools and the need to keep tabs on the reform programme. AD feels that it is high time that the college system delivers in terms of the much needed flexibility in schools. As things stand it seems that colleges have created a new bureaucracy which seems to be keeping schools from being more responsive to the specific needs of the children they cater for. AD also feels that the document is still heavy on a one size fits all mentality which goes counter to the declared need for flexibility. Whilst the relevant directorates need to provide direction in terms of policy development AD feels that development of such policies should occur in the individual colleges and schools as much as possible”.

“In terms of policy development, AD feels that even if the thrust in favour of a language policy, diversity, parental participation and vocational education development are laudable, there are other areas which are equally important which have been left out. AD feels that in the current state of our society, a multicultural policy needs to be articulated. A gender policy is also crucial particularly in the patriarchal mentality which still permeates our national psyche. It is also important because it also provides a discussion on the underachievement of boys in our educational system. AD also feels that issues related to gender identities on our schools is long overdue. Too many students and staff members suffer in silence because we have failed to take the bull by its horns and call a spade a spade rather than bury our heads in the sand as if the issue does not exist. Another area that cries out to be discussed is the SEC system. As things stand, the SEC stands as the proverbial bottleneck that risks throwing overboard a good number of proposals being put forward by the framework itself. Unfortunately, the time-line for the framework’s implementation ignores this crucial detail completely”.

“Generally, AD cannot but laud the considerable efforts to discuss the draft framework with all stakeholders. AD considers this to be a healthy development over the last two decades in our democratic development. Indeed, AD notes with satisfaction that reservations raised on the Secondary School Certificate in a forum on education by AD in October has been taken up and acted upon. This means that the educational authorities are ready to listen. AD also hopes that the consultation process creates the necessary spaces and impetus towards an on-going debate. In this context, it is also laudable that time for weekly meetings between staff are being favoured over the current ‘once-a-term -when-children-are-not-at-school’ meetings. This space augurs well. The creation of spaces for discussion and debate should go hand in hand with a sense of confidence and empowerment that all in education can make a difference. This belief should be backed up with an on-going development of a support system which is as close to the schools as possible”.

Dr Claire Azzopardi Lane, AD spokesperson for Disability Issues and Sports, said: “It is imperative that the curriculum makes clear reference to the need for concrete policies to support the education of students with learning disability”.

Michael Briguglio, AD Chairperson, said: “If Malta is to move towards a more equal, sustainable and progressive society, it is imperative that Malta’s education system progressively keeps moving away from selective education by strengthening its college system. Education which involves communication at various levels amongst different identities is key for a more plural society. We also believe that the concept of sustainability should be mainstreamed in the curriculum”.