The Malta Independent 22 July 2024, Monday
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Ethics to be offered instead of religion in government schools as from September

Malta Independent Friday, 24 January 2014, 11:30 Last update: about 11 years ago

Updates with comments from MUT president


The Education Ministry is planning to offer ethics as a subject for students who do not want to take religion classes, sources told The Malta Independent.

The subject is expected to be introduced at the start of the next scholastic year in September alongside other reforms planned in government schools, including co-ed education and middle classes. It is not yet known whether the subject will be made available in all schools or in some as a pilot project.

Over the years, and with the education system having to deal with students of different cultures and religions, authorities have had to deal with requests by parents for their children to be excused from religion classes.

This led to administrative issues because these students needed to be supervised while their colleagues were attending religion classes. In many cases, students remained in the class doing other tasks like homework, but this is not an ideal situation as they often ended up disrupting others.

As from September, these students will now be offered to study ethics instead of religion.

But the sources said that this introduction is being introduced rather hastily. The education department is still to identify enough teachers who have the ability to teach such a subject, and is not in a position to confirm how many will be needed.

There are also issues with regard to timetables and space availability in schools, and it has yet to be determined whether all schools will have their own ethics teacher or whether there will be a system in which ethics teachers will be teaching the subject in different schools on different days.

A seminar will be held this morning to discuss the subject.

Contacted by The Malta Independent, Malta Union of Teachers president Kevin Bonello said the union is in favour of a new subject that runs in parallel with religion, thus offering students who do not want to take religion classes to be given a different opportunity.

But the union is concerned that the idea is to be implemented too soon because the administrative set-up is still to be planned.

Mr Bonello said while it is probable that secondary schools are in a position to offer the opportunity – although timetable structures will have to be revised – it will be more difficult in primary schools which will need extra teachers to teach ethics to students. Space issues will also need to be sorted out.

Mr Bonello also pointed out that whereas in some localities the number of students who would opt for ethics instead of religion is rather high, in others there are only a handful of students. This might create some logistical problems which need to be sorted out.

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