Mr Gaetano Bugeja from the Ministry for Education and Employment said that students are being taught about various aspects of digital technology such as intellectual property rights and data protection in order to instil the aspects of digital competences in our children.
Until some time ago, such areas were not tackled but in the ever-increasing world of technology, it is pertinent that these areas are tackled at an early age.
But the area of digital technology is not the only area students are being encouraged to learn more about.
Speaking during a consultation session organised by MEUSAC in conjunction with the Ministry on ‘Competences for Life-Long Learning’, Mr Bugeja said that in the area of STEM, talented and gifted children specialising in maths are being given additional training in a bid to compete and show off their talents overseas with other children of their age. He said that people working in the STEM industries are being encouraged to visit schools and show artefacts of theirs to students in order to instil a sense of enthusiasm among students in this area.
Earlier, Mr Bugeja referred to the National Curriculum Framework of 2006, stating that the key competences document is still relevant to this day, however a number of changes have been made.
He said some of the key competences of the document include giving students employability skills and teaching for today and tomorrow. In 2017, he continued, the Reference Framework – a review of 2006 document – was published.
Some of the key competences identified in 2017 are: digital, languages, literacy, civic, science, technology, mathematics, culture awareness and expression.
He said that the classroom needs to undergo a culture change and teachers used as a means of support to learning. “We have a culture whereby students learn by listening to the teacher only but we need to use other forms of learning and encourage group work, discussion and participation, making students critical thinkers.”
He also spoke about entrepreneurship which is vital for students to learn from an early age.
A stakeholder said that it’s hard to change the classroom culture unless we do not question our assessment system seriously for starters. “Teachers are expected to teach a packed syllabus and at times take the easy way out as they are stuck in a rut and teaching the way they do is the only way they know. Are we expecting teachers to change the way things are done?” he asked.
Mr Bugeja replied saying that new ways are being sought on how to assess students but here again, we need to have a culture change as some individuals tend to prefer using one form of assessment. “We will be asking the teachers to be creative in their assessments; this is a very big cultural change.
“The direction we will be giving from the ministry to educators is that this is the kind of assessment we would like to see without ignoring the written assessment aspect of course,” Mr Bugeja said.
One of the greatest challenges is to teach these competences in a transversal manner, another stakeholder explained.