1 Education and Training Monitor 2015 Malta Education and Training
2 This publication is based on document SWD(2015)199. The Education and Training Monitor 2015 was prepared by the Directorate-General of Education and Culture (DG EAC), with contributions from the Directorate-General of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) and the Eurydice Network. DG EAC was assisted by the Education and Youth Policy Analysis Unit from the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), the JRC s Centre for Research on Education and Lifelong Learning (CRELL) and Institute of Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), Eurostat and Cedefop. The Members of the Standing Group on Indicators and Benchmarks (SGIB) were consulted during the drafting phase. Manuscript completed in September 2015 Additional contextual data can be found online (ec.europa.eu/education/monitor) Europe Direct is a service to help you find answers to your questions about the European Union. Freephone number (*): (*) The information given is free, as are most calls (though some operators, phone boxes or hotels may charge you). More information on the European Union is available on the internet ( Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2015 ISBN doi: / Cover image: Shutterstock.com European Union, 2015 Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged. Printed in Belgium Printed on elemental chlorine-free bleached paper (ecf)
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4 MALTA 2 1. Key Indicators and Benchmarks Malta EU average Educational poverty and spending cuts: challenges for the education sector Share of 15 year-olds with underachievement in: Education investment Reading Maths Science Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP Public expenditure on education as a share of total public expenditure : : 12 : 17.8% 12 : : 12 : 22.1% 12 : : 12 : 16.6% % 5.9% % 5.0% % 13.9% % 10.3% 13 Education attainment levels of young people across Europe Early leavers from education and training (age 18-24) Tertiary education attainment (age 30-34) Early childhood education and care (participation from age 4 to starting age of compulsory education) Teachers' participation in training Foreign language learning Share of ISCED 2 students learning two or more foreign languages Share of ISCED 3 students in vocational education and training (VET) Employment rate of recent graduates by education attainment (age having left education 1-3 years before reference year) Men Women Total Men Women Total Policy levers for inclusiveness, quality and relevance Any topic (total) Special needs education Multicultural settings ICT skills for teaching ISCED 3-4 ISCED 5-8 ISCED 3-8 (total) 28.8% 22.3% 15.2% 12.7% 16.3% 18.3% 11.5% 9.5% 22.7% 20.4% 13.4% 11.1% 22.6% 22.9% 31.0% 33.6% 24.2% 30.5% 38.7% 42.3% 23.4% 26.6% 34.8% 37.9% 100.0% 100.0% % 93.9% 13 : : 13 : 84.6% 13 : : 13 : 32.4% 13 : : 13 : 13.2% 13 : : 13 : 51.0% % 95.5% % : % 12.8% % 48.9% % 86.8% 71.3% 70.8% 94.2% 94.6% 82.5% 80.5% 91.4% 91.7% 77.1% 76.1% Learning mobility Adult participation in lifelong learning (age 25-64) Inbound graduates mobility (bachelor) Inbound graduates mobility (master) ISCED 0-8 (total) : 3.2% 13 : : 13 : 12.6% 13 : : % 7.1% 8.9% 10.7% Sources: Eurostat (LFS, UOE, GFS); OECD (PISA, TALIS). Notes: ET 2020 benchmark; data refer to weighted EU average, covering a different number of Member States depending on the source; b= break in time series, d= definition differs, p= provisional, u= low reliability, 12 = 2012, 13 = Further information is found in the respective section of Volume 1 (ec.europa.eu/education/monitor). Figure 1. Position in relation to highest (outer ring) and lowest performers (centre) Early leavers from education and training Underachievement in science Tertiary education attainment Underachievement in maths Employment rate of recent graduates Underachievement in reading Adult participation in learning Early childhood education and care Malta EU target EU average Source: DG Education and Culture calculations, based on data from Eurostat (LFS 2014 and UOE 2013) and OECD (PISA 2012, TALIS 2013). Note: all scores are set between a maximum (the highest performers visualised by the outer ring) and a minimum (the lowest performers visualised by the centre of the figure).
5 3 MALTA 2. Main strengths and challenges Malta has been investing significantly in its education and training system in recent years. The transition from education to the labour market is easier than in most other EU countries. However, skill levels in the workforce will not improve in the long term without addressing some bottlenecks in the education and training system. Firstly, despite recent progress, the early school leaving rate remains high. Secondly, basic skills proficiency is poor by international comparison. Lastly, the supply of skills from the vocational education and training system has not yet adjusted to labour market requirements. Box 1. The 2015 European Semester country-specific recommendation on education and training The 2015 European Semester country-specific recommendations (CSRs) to Malta (Council of the European Union 2015) included a recommendation on education and training: CSR 2: Take measures to improve basic skills and further reduce early school-leaving by promoting the continuous professional development of teachers. 3. Investing in education and training General government expenditure on education, both as a share of GDP (5.9% in 2013) and as a share of total public expenditure (13.9% in 2013), is well above the respective EU average (5.0% and 10.3%). 1 In the 2015 budget, the Maltese government increased expenditure on education by nearly 10% (i.e. EUR 41 million) compared to 2014 (Ministry for Finance 2014, p. 57). 4. Tackling inequalities After falling significantly in previous years, the early school leaving rate was steady between 2013 (20.5%) and 2014 (20.4%) and is still the second highest in the EU and well above the ambitious Europe 2020 national target of 10%. The gender gap (male rate minus female rate) is slightly above the EU average, at 4 percentage points compared to 3.2 percentage points. Participation in early childhood education for children aged 4-5 is universal, which may help prevent early school leaving in the long term. Available international studies show that basic skills attainment is rather poor. The performance of 15 year-olds in the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests was among the worst in the EU. 2 This was coupled with the largest gender gap among EU countries, with girls strongly outperforming boys in all fields tested (reading, mathematics and science). Similarly, the performance of 10 year-olds in the 2011 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) was very weak, especially in reading (Figure 2) and science. The proportion of migrant pupils is on the rise. According to data from the Ministry for Education and Employment, in 2014/15 they made up 7.4% of total pupils in primary schools and 4.9% in secondary schools; 3 they came from around 70 different countries, the largest communities being from the UK, Italy, Libya and Bulgaria. Implementation of the 2014 Early School Leaving Strategy (Ministry for Education and Employment 2014b) is ongoing. To improve cooperation between the Ministry for Education and Employment and relevant stakeholders, an Early School Leaving Working Group was set up in December Its role is to help schools and other entities at local level to determine the Source: Eurostat, General government expenditure by function (COFOG) database. Malta did not participate in PISA Data include both state and non-state (i.e. Church and independent) schools.
6 MALTA 4 needs of children and young people and to develop prevention measures tailored to local conditions. 580 Figure 2. Average score of 10-year-old pupils in reading in PIRLS Source: IEA (2012) An Alternative Learning Programme has been developed to cater for students who, towards the end of compulsory education, show no interest in sitting the final examinations and would therefore leave education with no qualifications. The second edition of the programme ran in 2014/15 and targeted 272 students. The major component is vocational education, but the programme also includes Maltese and English literacy, numeracy and modules to develop information and communication technology (ICT) skills. This programme is innovative in the Maltese context, as it provides students with some work experience and uses informal and nonformal learning approaches in contrast to the traditional direct teaching approach of the school system. The main ongoing measure in the area of basic skills is the National Literacy Strategy for All (Box 2). The government is also implementing the Learning Outcomes Framework. Learning outcomes are to be determined for early childhood education and care and in all areas of the compulsory curriculum and are being developed through an international tender and in collaboration with local curriculum development experts. The project is presently under way and will begin to be implemented during the 2016/17 year. The biggest challenge for integrating migrant pupils concerns those groups whose first language is not English. As from the 2015/16 school year, non-english-speaking students are being offered a one-year induction course in basic functional English and Maltese. Work is being done by trained teachers, language support assistants and parent leaders, who support both students and parents. Box 2. The National Literacy Strategy for All The National Literacy Strategy for All (Ministry for Education and Employment 2014a) was launched in June Its overall purpose is to promote and enhance high quality literacy practices among children, youths, adults, non-eu nationals and people with learning difficulties, as well as to improve literacy competence in both the Maltese and English languages. The Literacy Strategy is being implemented through the National Literacy Agency, created in College literacy teams are in place in every state college in Malta. These are led by the heads of department for literacy and bring together the literacy-related staff of that college to work as a team. The literacy team conducts both literacy assessment and intervention
7 5 MALTA procedures for the college in collaboration with classroom teachers. The Literacy Strategy includes a wide number of measures. The main ones are: The Read with Me programme: this provides for early literacy and targets children of 0 to 3 years and their parents. The objective of the programme is to promote reading books through playful activities, partly through the active involvement of parents; Reading Ambassadors : prominent local people are involved to encourage children and young people to read by means of a number of events held in local schools; The Book Gifting project: this aims to give each new-born child a book every month until the age of 4 or 5; The Malta Writing Programme : this promotes writing process methodology in an interactive setting for children and their families. Proper implementation of the National Literacy Strategy, supported by appropriate funding, may help address literacy problems. Bringing different initiatives under a single National Literacy Agency was a positive move, as it helps consolidate the work already done and makes the strategy s approach more comprehensive. Ensuring appropriate collaboration between the Agency and the different educational stakeholders will be key to making the strategy effective. 5. Modernising school education Further progress in reducing early school leaving, and in basic skills attainment, will strongly depend on quality of teaching (European Commission 2012). As some major changes have been going on in the school sector in Malta (e.g. the introduction of mixed ability classes, benchmarking examination and e-learning tools), staff professional development is required in these areas, so as to promote student-centred learning. Both the Early School Leaving Strategy and the Literacy Strategy acknowledge the need to improve professional development of teachers at all stages of their career. So far, the main measure envisaged is setting up an institute for continuous professional development of teachers in The government also plans to reform initial teacher training by introducing a two-year Master s degree in Teaching and Learning, which will represent the route towards obtaining a teacher s warrant and which may be pursued after obtaining a first-cycle degree in a subject area or a related area of the curriculum. 4 Lasting commitment in the coming years will be key, as measures to improve quality of teaching necessarily require a long-term policy perspective. The fact that the teaching force is quite young (Figure 3) may facilitate the task. On digital competences, in 2014 the government published the National Digital Strategy (Digital Malta 2014). The strategy aims to promote ICT within education by: investing in comprehensive ICT infrastructure for teachers, students and parents; encouraging a digital mind-set; widening learning opportunities; supporting teachers in using e-learning platforms and other digital learning technologies. A pilot project aiming to provide tablets to fourth-grade pupils in primary schools took place between March 2014 and March 2015 and involved 340 students in 20 schools. The project is currently being assessed to determine what kind of tablet should be adopted and how it should be mainstreamed to all primary schools in 2016/17, starting from grade 4. 4 The current initial teacher training involves a Bachelor of Education degree in Primary Education for primary teachers. For secondary level teachers, there are currently two routes: a Bachelor of Education degree over four years or a one-year postgraduate Certificate in Education (still level 6 on the Malta Qualifications Framework) following a Bachelor s degree in the subject area.
8 MALTA 6 Figure 3. Distribution of teachers by age group at different education levels (2012) < MT EU* MT EU* Primary Lower and upper secondary * Unweighted average Source: European Commission calculations based on Eurostat data 6. Modernising higher education The tertiary education attainment rate of people aged is still among the lowest in the EU (26.6% in 2014) and well below the Europe 2020 national target of 33%, although the trend is moderately increasing (at percentage points over the last 3 years). The gender gap (female rate minus male rate) is slightly below the EU average: 7.6 percentage points compared with 8.7 percentage points. Inbound graduate mobility is rather high at master's level. The employment rate of recent tertiary graduates 5 increased by 1.5 percentage points between 2013 and 2014 and is now the highest in the EU (94.6%). Malta has created a quality assurance framework for further and higher education. Several measures to raise participation in tertiary education are ongoing. In order to encourage more students to embark on a career in priority sectors for the Maltese economy, the government issued calls under the Malta Government Scholarship Schemes, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and the Master it! scholarship scheme at postgraduate level. Moreover, in 2015 the government plans to introduce a post-doctoral grant scheme called Reach High Scholars Programme (Ministry for Finance 2015, p. 25). Additionally, the government has also introduced further tax incentives for students when continuing their education at tertiary level. All these measures may increase the number of highly skilled workers and help make Malta s economy more competitive in the medium term. 7. Modernising vocational education and training and promoting adult learning As the economic crisis had only a limited impact on Malta s economy, both the youth unemployment rate (11.8% in 2014) and the share of young people not in employment, education or training (11.5% of year-olds in 2014) are well below the EU average. The employment rate of recent upper secondary graduates 6 decreased by about 4 percentage points between 2013 and 2014, but remains among the highest in the EU (at 86.8% in 2014). Participation of students in vocational education and training (ISCED 3 level) seems to have declined substantially in recent years. However, this is because, as from 2011, part-time 5 6 People aged who left education between 1 and 3 years before the reference year. People aged who left education between 1 and 3 years before the reference year.
9 7 MALTA courses are excluded from the indicator. 7 Adult participation in lifelong learning is quite low (7.1% compared to an EU average of 10.7% in 2014). This is due to very low participation by people with low educational attainment (2.8%), who still represent the majority (57.8% in 2014) of the Maltese adult population. By contrast, the participation rates of adults with medium and high educational attainment are in line with the corresponding EU averages. The supply of skills has not yet fully adjusted to the labour market s requirements. Bottlenecks have been identified across the entire skills spectrum (European Commission 2014). Due to the small size of the economy, employers face a structural challenge in recruiting specialised people with relevant work experience. Among the highly-skilled sectors, healthcare, finance and information technology stand out as those where demand considerably exceeds supply. Maltese employers have resorted to recruiting skilled workers from abroad, but foreign labour tends to be more difficult to retain. Moreover, despite increased take-up of work-based learning, 8 there remains scope for strengthening governance and partnerships between providers and employers. Malta has not yet developed an integrated information system, where systematic data on vacancies across the whole economy could be collected, nor a clear framework for monitoring and anticipating skills needs. 9 Participation in lifelong learning, still limited, also constrains the employability of Maltese residents, in particular among low-skilled workers and among older workers whose skills are often outdated, jeopardising their employability. A variety of measures in the area of vocational education and training have started being implemented. Having consulted social partners, the government is creating a single national apprenticeship scheme to raise quality and improve its responsiveness to the needs of the labour market. The scheme will cover a larger number of qualification levels and also includes a system of tax deductions introduced by the 2014 budget (Ministry for Finance 2013). More vocational courses with apprenticeship components are being introduced, covering additional subjects, and the number of apprenticeships has gone up in order to meet the high demand. Business involvement in the design of more attractive and higher quality apprenticeships can still be further developed and, so far, demand for apprenticeships exceeds supply. The National Commission for Further and Higher Education has introduced the first system and structures for validation of informal and non-formal learning consistent with the Malta Qualifications Framework. Malta also plans to set up a Skills Council to better align educational outcomes with labour market relevance (Ministry for Education and Employment 2014c), while a virtual labour market is meant to make it easier to match skills with work placements. By end the government will be launching an employability index, which will offer new guidelines on available work opportunities. The authorities have also designed a lifelong learning strategy with a view to increasing participation and have set aside specific funding for employers to train their employees through the European Social Fund. The policy response seems to be moving in the right direction This change is in line with Eurostat recommended methodologies. According to national information, 75% of graduates find full-time employment after completing an apprenticeship. Coverage of vacancies by the Maltese public employment service is only partial. However, the positive labour market outcomes currently being obtained by the public employment services have led Malta to decide not to introduce an obligation for employers to notify all their vacancies to the public employment service. At the same time private sector employees are free to use the recruitment sources that best suit them including those provided by private employment services.
10 MALTA 8 References Council of the European Union (2015), Council recommendation of 14 July 2015 on the 2015 National Reform Programme of Malta and delivering a Council opinion on the 2015 Stability Programme of Malta, 2015/C 272/21, Digital Malta (2014), National Digital Strategy , European Commission (2012), Supporting the Teaching Professions for Better Learning Outcomes, SWD(2012) 374, European Commission (2014), Mapping and Analysing Bottleneck Vacancies in EU Labour Markets Malta, e=news IEA (2012), TIMSS and PIRLS 2011: Achievement Results in Reading, Mathematics, and Science, Ministry for Education and Employment (2014a), A national literacy strategy for all in Malta and Gozo , Ministry for Education and Employment (2014b), A strategic plan for the prevention of early school leaving in Malta, Ministry for Education and Employment (2014c), The national employment policy, Ministry for Finance (2013), Budget Speech 2014, Ministry for Finance (2014), Budget Speech 2015, Budget/Documents/The_Budget_2015/final-budget_speech_eng.pdf Ministry for Finance (2015), Malta National Reform Programme, OECD (2009), PISA 2009 key findings, Comments and questions on this report are welcome and can be sent by to: Marco MONTANARI or
11 European Commission Directorate-General for Education and Culture Education and Training - Monitor 2015 Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union 2015 pp x 29.7cm ISBN ISSN doi: / HOW TO OBTAIN EU PUBLICATIONS Free publications: one copy: via EU Bookshop ( more than one copy or posters/maps: from the European Union s representations ( from the delegations in non-eu countries ( by contacting the Europe Direct service ( or calling (freephone number from anywhere in the EU) (*). (*) The information given is free, as are most calls (though some operators, phone boxes or hotels may charge you). Priced publications: via EU Bookshop (
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