The Malta Independent 3 December 2021, Friday

Association seeks to overturn need of teacher’s warrant for home education

Saturday, 18 September 2021, 14:59 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Malta Home Education Association is seeking to overturn the need to have a teacher’s warrant to provide education in the home.

In a letter to the Education Ministry, made available to the media, the MHEA said “the option of the rich and rewarding experience of learning from home, linked to a community of like-minded families, with regular extra-curricular activities through the MHEA, is currently being denied to Maltese families. “

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The registered Voluntary Organisation, active since 2016, was responding to recent news releases regarding the coming into force of ‘Home Education’ within the new Education Act. “It has disappointed us greatly that despite numerous requests for meetings, with a desire to give input and cooperate in the developing law for Home Education in our Islands, the Ministry of Education has continually ignored us,” the association said.

We sought this interaction as we recognise that there is a lack of understanding within the Maltese Islands concerning Home Education. This has led to many families having to leave the Islands to access this right. Malta has mandated that home education will only be available to those who possess a teacher’s warrant, who are licensed and provide a 'valid reason'.

No right for recourse or appeal has been provided for, should an application be deemed unsuccessful, with an increased threat of hefty fines for the non-compliant. The rigid framework provided does not instil confidence in the growing community of families on our Islands who desire, above all, the best for their children through an excellent home and community education, the letter said.

As the administration of the law currently stands, families in Malta will not have the same access to home education as those in Europe, the USA, Canada and other nations where it is accepted that home educated children follow programmes that do not require the parents to hold a teaching degree.

This is not a school setting nor should it look like one. The role of the educator is to connect students to pathways of learning, often through accredited programs, leading to tertiary and further study. Home Education provides families the opportunity to give their children an education fostering curiosity, natural processes of discovery and critical thinking, the association said.

It allows the learners to become familiar with their own learning styles, strengths, weaknesses and preferences at an early stage and with deep intensity. The goal of learning exceeds the scope of mere preparation for exams - it is preparation for life. Records show that Home Educated children go on to further study and training, excelling at tertiary studies, since they are accustomed to carrying out research and are able to quickly grasp university standards of research and learning.

An education which is free and compulsory is a worthy privilege that every child is entitled to. Yet in 21st century Malta, we are still in a position where the majority of families do not have the right to choose the kind of education their children shall receive. This is part of our European Human Rights. In the spectrum of schooling options, the heart of the decision must be the best interest of the child, with a parent's intimate knowledge of what is right for their family, the association said.

We therefore ask that the Education authorities would finally open the way for collaboration with us as a Voluntary Organisation in order for us to demonstrate why the prerequisite of a teachers warrant needs to be revised for Home Education to become a reality on par with international standards.

The implementation of a supportive registration process for home educating families needs to be established at the earliest with the new school year fast approaching. In closing we reiterate that MHEA welcomes all measures for the protection of vulnerable children and young people and affirms that there should be the necessary monitoring to ensure that Home Educated children are receiving the genuine education their parents declare them to be.

We look forward to feedback from the Ministry and trust that consideration will also cover the needs of the Maltese families whose choice is for home education, the association said.

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