The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

No direct involvement of teachers, students in think-tank on post COVID-19 education

Giulia Magri Wednesday, 13 May 2020, 14:22 Last update: about 16 days ago

The Ministry of Education has set up a ‘think-tank’ to reflect on the future of education in Malta post-COVID-19. According to Education and Employment Minister Owen Bonnici, the think-tank provides a ‘blue sky’ form of thinking and reflection, with no constraints. “The questions we will be asking are not ‘why?’ but ‘why not?’” said Bonnici.

The minister was speaking during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon regarding the future of education post-COVID-19. He said that the ministry is currently coordinating a comprehensive framework to prepare for the eventual reopening of educational institutions and the launch of the think-tank.


The think-tank is made of a group of seven experts and professionals. Professor Edward Debono, Maltese physician and psychologist, Professor Richard England, a well-known creative architect, Permanent Secretary Dr Frank Fabri, CEO of Institute for Education Joanne Grima, Julianne Grima a professor, Fredrick Schembri who is managing director of Aurobindo Pharmacy and previous MCAST president, and lawyer David Xuereb who is also the Malta Chamber President.

“This think-tank is made of people with different and excellent backgrounds, who together will contribute beautiful ideas. I want them to be as creative as possible and test the limits and build on the positive experiences us as the education sector had experienced before COVID-19,” said Bonnici.

The think-tank must finalise a report no later than September; therefore the group of experts have four months to present a report which will be key to the way forward for the education of the future.

The Malta Independent asked as to why no educators or teachers stakeholders are part of the group. Permanent Secretary Fabri explained that the output of teachers, students and parents will be taken on by members of the think-tank. “We will listen to numerous stakeholders, teachers, LSEs and students who wish to provide and contribute their ideas. We have different people with different experiences, and they will provide their contribution to what they think the future of education will be.”

Works on comprehensive framework for eventual reopening of educational institutions

The ministry is also working on a framework of preparation of the eventual reopening of educational institutions. “We are preparing ourselves for any kind of scenario we find ourselves in and have a framework which will work for Malta,” explained Fabri.

He said that the ministry is working closely with the advice of the health authorities and studying the situation of other countries when it comes to the education sector. Currently schools are still closed, but there are plans for SkolaSajf to open in July.

Fabri explained that the framework is reflected and draws on the model presented by the United Nations.

MUT does not recognise Government think-tank

The Malta Union of Teachers said it will not be recognising the government's think-tank, since it is not a representative of the experience which teachers offer.

"Teachers are experts in this field, and one cannot have an analysis of the situation without their input. This think tank was being formed behind the backs of everyone, including MUT and other partners," the union said. 

PN criticises lack of educators involved

The PN, in response to the minister's announcement, said that the fact that teachers were left out of the Think Tank shows that the education minister has, for the second consecutive week, showed a lack of respect towards the profession.

"How can you establish a Think Tank for education without representatives of the teachers and the Faculty of Education?" PN MP Clyde Puli asked.

While recognising the need for such a Think Tank, "to think ahead and address the lack of a long-term education plan, we are disappointed that the group appointed by the ministry did not include a representative of the educators."

The PN said that the minister lost an opportunity to recognise the expertise of educators and heads of schools.



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