Doing and not just knowing, and why it matters

Vocational education is also an integral part of a national policy to  address skill gaps in the Maltese labour market which is essential for Malta to compete in a globalised market where education systems have to react to change

Alongside their compulsory core subjects, My Journey will allow secondary school students to blend relevant and quality academic, applied and vocational subjects, in a personalised and inclusive learning environment enabling them to reach their full potential
Alongside their compulsory core subjects, My Journey will allow secondary school students to blend relevant and quality academic, applied and vocational subjects, in a personalised and inclusive learning environment enabling them to reach their full potential

Next week Malta will be joining EU countries in organising activities highlighting the importance of Vocational Education and Training (VET).  Every day, each single person benefits, unintentionally, from a myriad of vocational skills and services in his or her daily life.

In the past vocational subjects were not given the priority they merited. However today, not just in Malta but across all Europe, vocational education is gathering pace and is seen as one of the most important elements in an educational mix. I am a believer that a proper educational experience cannot not have some sort of vocational aspect. Learning by doing is very important.

Twenty-one years ago, the former European Commission President, Jacques Delors, wrote a report entitled “Learning: A treasure Within”. Delors served on the UNESCO Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century from 1993 to 1996, and this report was the final statement of his work. It became the basis of various policies, including European Union ones, such as the European Lifelong Learning Indicators.

It lists four important pillars for education: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live with others and learning to be. These pillars encompass the fundamentals of a well-rounded educational experience. It’s about human growth rather than academic achievement. It has the foresight and ambition to dream what could be done, referenced commonly as “utopia” in the report, but which, in reality, are straight-forward and simple notions. It discussed things which were yet to come, such as a multi-cultural environment in schools and how advanced technology would change how we learn.

It proposed concepts that were well-ahead of its time, and forecast a changing society where skills and abilities in the real world where more important than academic certification.

It talks about “exclusion of a growing number of people in the rich countries” and how this will continue to bring about disillusionment. Some of the effects of such inequality have become evident in recent years.

The food that we consume, the hairdressing services that we make use of, the houses that we live in, the mechanics that fix our cars, the carers who take care of our loved ones, the scientists who test our water are all made possible through the skills and trades which students following Vocational Education and Training develop over the years. VET provision in Malta has undergone drastic changes in Malta over the past few decades. The number of vocationally trained students has gone up by more than 65% since 2008 (NCFHE statistics count 6,163 in further vocational studies in 2008 and 10,350 in 2016) and the quality of education provision has improved and has been strengthened through more robust structures, teacher training and quality assurance frameworks.

Over the coming years we are continuing to roll out additional vocational subjects within compulsory schooling, vocational teaching training has been reformed and assessment practices have been reflected accordingly.

From September 2019, we will continue replacing the current secondary school model with personalised, relevant and quality education for all students through the My Journey reform. Alongside their compulsory core subjects, My Journey will allow secondary school students to blend relevant and quality academic, applied and vocational subjects, in a personalised and inclusive learning environment enabling them to reach their full potential.

Vocational education is also an integral part of a national policy to  address skill gaps in the Maltese labour market which is essential for Malta to compete in a globalised market where education systems have to react to change. In this way our students are being equipped for the challenges posed by technological change even while attending mainstream education where they acquire other skills related to their academic, personal and social development as citizens.

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