The Malta Independent 5 June 2023, Monday
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TMID Editorial: The challenges of a new academic year

Wednesday, 28 September 2022, 10:35 Last update: about 9 months ago

The start of the new academic year always brings changes and challenges.

In the past days one would have certainly noticed more cars, minivans and coaches on the road, as the transportation of students to and from school, in the morning and afternoon, no doubt creates longer traffic jams.

And, with too many road projects taking place at the same time, it is inevitable that traffic issues come to the fore. Traffic police and Transport Malta officers are trying to help in the management of the roads, particularly at roundabouts where traffic jams are common.


But there is, of course, much more to this.

On the social media, one already came across complaints from parents who, on the return of their children from the first day of school, had to rush to the nearest stationery to buy all that was needed. Even here, there were long queues.

Perhaps, as from next year, parents should start being informed of how many copybooks and other items their children will need before the start of the scholastic year. In this way, they would be able to purchase the items in question at their leisure. Having thousands of parents needing to go to stationers on one single day is not ideal.

As is also the norm in these first few days, there have been reports of teacher shortage. The Education Minister, Clifton Grima, has said that State schools are not experiencing this problem, but it is a known fact that, in the last years, while the school populations increased, the number of teachers has dwindled.

Speaking of school populations, over the past years we have seen an increase in the number of foreign students attending schools in Malta as their parents/guardians have settled here. This has added to the burden of schools, not least because of communication problems. In addition, some  students come from different cultures and need time to settle down. We must ensure that all schools are given the resources they need to provide the best education to all students, and for all students to be given the best opportunities to learn.

The biggest changes are, however, for the students. For the youngest, it is the start of their educational path; for the rest, the start of the scholastic year meant a move up to the next level as they pursue their own personal journey towards the career they have in mind although, for most of them, a definitive road will appear later. The students at Sixth Form and the University are closer to their target.

This will be the first full year of "normal" schooling as we move on from the Covid-19 pandemic. Whether, after all the tribulations brought about by the virus, the education system will emerge stronger remains to be seen.

All the stakeholders - the students, their parents, the teachers, other staff, the school administration, and those who work behind the scenes - must all pull the same rope. All have different interests, but cooperation from all is needed for our education sector to succeed.



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