Education And The Maltese Educational System Sectors

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The Maltese educational system is divided into three main sectors and is based on the British model: Primary Education (ages five till eleven), Secondary Education (ages eleven till sixteen), and Tertiary Education.

Education in Malta is compulsory from age five till sixteen. Parents can choose to send their children either to State, Church or Private Schools. Thus as one can see, it provides an extensive system which caters for all requirements (Bartolo, D. & Debattista, M. 2000 - 2009) Major changes are currently undergoing the Maltese Educational System. In 1996, computers started to be installed in the Primary School classrooms. A new National Minimum Curriculum was drawn and implemented between 2000 and 2001. This is made for all schools including conditions to ascertain standards of hygiene, safety, dimensions of classrooms and facilities (Bartolo, D. & Debattista, M. 2000 - 2009)

While an increasing number of students with special learning needs are being placed in mainstream schools, some still receive their education in special, primary and secondary schools.

The majority of students attend the state schools, while about 30% of all students attend the non-state sector (Sultana, 1997).

Inclusive Education

The inclusion in education knows its origin around 16 years ago. Representatives of 92 governments together with 25 international organizations produced the World Conference on Special Needs Education. This meeting was held in Spain. From this conference, a new framework for action was developed with the main focus of this action was that all ordinary schools should accommodate all children, regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other conditions. It says that those children with special educational needs 'must have access to regular schools'

Inclusion in schools is a vital issue/element against discriminatory attitudes of such people. Regular schools with inclusive orientation provide an effective education to the majority of children and improve the efficiency and ultimately the cost-effectiveness of the entire education system.

Education in Malta also caters for all sectors of the population, including children with special needs for whom a Special Education Section within the Education Department is set up. The Department also offers various ancillary services, e.g. guidance and counselling, welfare, psychological, medical, and spiritual, which enhance the quality of education offered.

What is Dyslexia? What is dyslexia: classification causes etc

Dor here include the definition of dyslexia pls & some causes/risk factors- go on wikipedia and u ll find ax jien mandix internet u illum indum naqra xoghol.

On average, In Malta there is about 15-20% of students with a related learning disability (Bradforb, J. (n.d.))

According to Ott (1997), early identification can decrease the long term effect of dyslexia symptoms when it is accompanies by appropriate treatment and understanding. Early identification increases awareness that there may be weaknesses and lateness in acquiring fundamental life skills. Secondary emotional and behavioural problems can be prevented or avoided if appropriate intervention is made early in childhood.

Din mill ktieb How to detect and manage dyslexia pg 24-25 by Philomena Ott, 1997

Is the maltese educational system a disadvantage to children with dyslexia?

Although the Maltese educational system seems to be one of the most efficient and effective systems when compared to other systems, there are certain keys that in my opinion are still unclear and need further insights.

Children with dyslexia invest more energy in their visual skills and they are multidimensional thinkers. They are usually highly creative as they focus more on hands on learning rather than in trying to understand letters, numbers, symbols and written words. (Davis Dyslexia Association International).

It is becoming quite evident that children who fail to learn to read will over react in negative ways. According to Young and Tyre (date) these children cope with their failure by seeking attention and popularity in clowning or bullying. They try to bluff their way out through school. (Dyslexia or illiteracy, 1987).pg 98

This was also evident by pearpoint & Forest, 1994: "There are massive number of students having school problems who are screaming at us with their behaviour. They are telling us that school is irrelevant, boring, dull, not meeting their needs and driving them crazy. These students drop out of school or get kicked out, form gangs and get in trouble and we continue to blame the victims rather than looking deep at ourselves and our school system for creative answers and alternatives".

Trade Schools

In my opinion, the maltese educational system is further encouraging problems to dyslexic children. The new reform is enhancing exclusion. The fact that trade schools are phased out, it is being of a disadvantage to dyslexic children-this is because many of these children involves themselves in craft-making. These schools were ideal for dyslexic pupils. The new system caters more for academic activities rather than extra curricular ones. Thus this is being more stressful to children who finds it difficult in literacy: (read and write). With the new system they have fewer opportunities as far as creativity is concerned. Quality Education for all (principle 1 ta l NMC) is not being implemented. The NMC should provide the context wherein all children participate in the continuous enhancement of personal and collective knowledge and the development of those attitudes and skills which the community regards as basic and necessary for a person's holistic approach.

Whilst before after three years of secondary schooling, students had the opportunity to transfer to trade schools, a system that leads either to employment or to further technical education and training through apprenticeship schemes, now that these schools are phased out, they have much less opportunities which make these children at a further disadvantage. Before students who did not achieve the desired results had the opportunity to attend an out of school learning centre.

For all children to succeed (2005) pg 44- this document is promoting the phasing out of Boys' and Girls' Centres (ex-opportunity centres)

LSA & dyslexia

It has also been debatable whether children with dyslexia should benefit from the service of an LSA or not as part of their educational needs. In Malta, the educational system does not offer a LSA for children who suffer from dyslexia alone/only. Parents of such children feel that this is unethical and is a form of discrimination for their children.

For the above issue, the following involves a discussion to proof the effectiveness of LSA's in people with dyslexia. This issue was proven by several studies done internationally i.e. not in the maltese educational system.

The LSA together with other members of the team such as the ACTU can work together for the benefit of these children and discuss certain strategies such as ICT use to reduce writing and copying skills. This can be done in regular meetings to meet these children demands including adapting a holistic approach i.e. involvement of their parents or guardians.

Dyslexic children can still learn to read and write efficiently but when they use certain methods /unique learning styles. This clearly shows that the LSA can have an integral role in their learning capabilities.

Moreover, Savage & Carless (2005) also proofed that LSAs have a role in preventative measures for literacy difficulties. In their study, 6 year old children were used divided into 4 groups. The participants were obtained from 9 schools. Phonic programs were administered to these children for 9 weeks by trained LSAs.

Although the Maltese educational system lacks in certain aspects of care, there has been an increase in awareness of the LSA role. Whereas before the focus used to be on one child, this is no longer the case. It caters for all the students in the class. This fact leaves positive light on dyslexic children who do not have a statement of needs from the CDAU.

Use of devices.

A more holistic approach should be adapted in class- we must let our students with writing difficulties use a computer with specialized software that spell checks, grammar checks or recognizes speech. I have been working as an LSA in a state/ government school for the past six years. Although I met several dyslexic children, unfortunately and sorry to say I did never get across computer use with them - they were never given the opportunity to use a computer during lectures.

It has been shown that an increase number of computer programmes have features that meet many of the needs of dyslexic learners and ameliorate their difficulties. This can be especially effective in the primary years where literacy skills are being learned daily. Skond Victoria Crivalli, Moira Thomson, Bodil Anderson fil ktieb Dyslexia in context (2005).

Information and communication technology can aid in written work, which is so often frustrating for dyslexics. Planning, organizing, writing, spelling, editing and presentation can be assisted in such a way that they feel more able to express their intended content and demonstrate their true ability. Programs and tools can offer independence for many children who depend on adult/peer help in literacy activities.

In the present, the use of PC's should not be used as a reward or as a punishment as it is being used in some schools. In most cases children are only allowed to use the computer after class work is ready as a reward after completion of work.

Lack of Knowledge & expertees (eg time management) in training

Although there was an increase in awareness on the role of the LSA's, teachers still lack the necessary expertise to act with such children in relation with other children in the same class. This remains a disadvantage on this system. This is further sustained in the report Inclusive and special education review 2005 pg71:

"The Working Group noted that most schools are not equipped, and teaching staff are not at all adequately trained, to identify and cater appropriately for the implications of this situation."

Most teachers base their learning strategies on oral methods or else try to make students copy word for word. Using this system only children who has a good attention span and does not have problems with literacy are able to learn. The ideal would be multisensory teaching - the use of more than one sense will help the pupil to better absorb further knowledge.

Gillingham and Stillman (1956) said that multisensory teaching 'is based upon the constant use of all of the following: how a letter or word looks, how it sounds, how the speech organs or the hand in writing feels when producing it'. The pupil uses the visual channel (eyes), the auditory channel (ears) and kinesthetic (motor memory) and tactile (hands) to learn.

Il ktieb How to detect and manage dyslexia Pg8 Philomena Ott (1997)

One can also think of specialization in the area for example having literacy teachers induced in the maltese educational system. (Din nahseb diga tezisti-MANAFX TEZISTIX ICCEKJA NAQRA MA XI TEACHER)))

More co-ordination between the Statementing and Moderating Panel, the Child Development Assessment Unit (CDAU) and l-SpLD, is of crucial importance. People with special individual needs together with their families or parents must be assured and provided with a clear thorough DIN ALA AMILTHA HIGHLIGHTED TEZISTI TA picture in order to be able to guide themselves in the whole educative process. For this to take place, there should be official representatives from the education division (especially from the DIRECTORATE services ta DSSIR), the KNPD, CDAY SpLD and the faculty of education at the university of malta. (2005).

According to Salend, Spencer, J. (2001) when "all members work together to achieve a common goal and share their expertise and perceptions with others" will have better outcomes".

A self interview was done with Ms. Karen Grech, l-SPLD unit worker on the 28/9/2010. Some of the data gathered was that as a unit they offer their services to both children as well as adults with learning difficulties. Unfortunately due to their widespread system of services offered (some of which include working in collaboration with literacy teachers on core competences, recommendations to LSA s and teachers), there is a long waiting list which definitely will make the situation even worse.


"Miles & Miles (1984) examined the effect of early intervention. They found that ' it is particularly advantageous if special teaching can start no later than age seven'. They concluded that 'if dyslexic children are caught early, less time is needed for catching up, while in many cases they can be helped before frustration sets in'. Moreover these results correlate with those of Badian (1988). She reported that 'when diagnosis of dyslexia was made in the first two grades of school, over 80% of the students could be brought up to their normal classroom work'. Chasty (1996) also stated that ' at the age of seven, a child with mild to moderate dyslexia/specific learning difficulties (i.e. over 80 % of all children with such difficulties) can be helped within the classroom situation by the class teacher or class assistant allocating one hour in short and frequent sessions throughout the week. Din mill ktieb How to detect and manage dyslexia pg 24-25 by Philomena Ott, 1997


Despite the above mentioned lack of services, one also has to keep in mind that this is not only a problem of the maltese educational system but also due to other influent issues such as the healthcare system (Is there enough professional staff available to assess such children at CDAU and so forth).

A positive thing to say is that despite all these deficiencies, still a substantial rate of these children end up to tertiary level of education. This shows that the Maltese educational system is effective considering the lack in certain aspects of it. However if working in collaboration for a more holistic multidisciplinaryGHAMEL LIEMA TOGBOK BOTH CAN BE USED transdisciplinary nahseb approach, I believe that we can aim towards better and easy living of dyslexic children/people!