The Malta Independent 14 November 2019, Thursday

Government establishes set amount of time children should be spending on homework

Rebecca Iversen Monday, 26 March 2018, 11:04 Last update: about 3 years ago

The government today officially launched its National Homework Policy, suggesting the amount of time children of different ages should be spending on homework every day.

Speaking in an open discussion with students from Naxxar Primary school, Minister for Education and Employment Evarist Bartolo said he hoped that children who already have a busy schedule are going to find more balance and time to breathe, adding that he hopes children find more time to take part in more sports, social and cultural activities.

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The policy is to be implemented from the next scholastic year.

This newspaper had reported back in December 2017 that according to 2016 WHO findings the issue of too much homework was something that children in Malta were not happy about with 11, 13 and 15 year olds feeling overly pressured from too much homework, which is double the average of other participating countries.

The National Home work Policy is proposing the following guidelines:

Kindergarten- No homework

Primary Year 1-2 - Maximum of 20 minutes every day

Primary Year 3-6 - Maximum of 30 minutes every day

Secondary Year 7-8 (Forms 1 and 2): Maximum of an hour a day

Secondary Year 9 and up: Maximum of 8 hours a week

The ministry emphasised that such guidelines are to alleviate current homework problems such as: stress; working till late; tiredness and lack of sleep; anxiety and extra pressure. In turn the extra time students will have will allow them to have time for sporting activities; time with family; time for reading; time for playing; time to rest; time for cultural activities and a balanced life.

During the open discussion with Year 5 students, the minister asked about their thoughts on homework and what they prefer to do in their spare time. Many responded that homework was useful for exams but that they would prefer to have homework on one subject per day. Others spoke about wanting homework to be more open and focused on general knowledge and research. 

Minister Bartolo also asked students whether anyone had any aspirations to be a teacher when they were older, with two students putting their hands up and one student stipulating that he had thought about becoming a teacher but wasn’t sure it was worth it.

The ministry stated how the National Homework Policy is based on extensive research and evidence, both local and international, and is not an obligation but one that offers very clear guidelines regarding the realistic value of homework and the effects it leaves on teaching of children and students. “It has long been felt the need to create a balance. This policy is not suggesting the elemination of  homework, but that this should remain part of the educational experience with a clear aim between balancing educational needs and individual needs”.

Minister Bartolo also asked parents to encourage their children to consider joining a sports organisation or to take part in cultural or voluntary activities. “More homework should not mean more time for television or playing in front of a screen, but a more open life. Even here, we once again emphasise how important reading is, both independently and as a family”. 

For more information on the National Home work Policy: edu.gov.mt/homework

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