The Malta Chamber of Scientists welcomes the National Strategic Plan for Further and
Higher Education 2022-2030 and has submitted its response to the public open consultation
launched by the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation.
The strategy highlights the improvements achieved by Malta in reducing the number of early
school leavers and increasing tertiary education attainment, amongst other metrics.
However, it remains worrying that according to the 2018 PISA report, Malta performs worse
than the OECD average in reading, mathematics, and science. Over time, the trend in
science has been negative. In parallel, there has been a continuous decline in the number of
STEM graduates being produced by Maltese higher education institutions. The Chamber is
concerned that there do not appear to be concrete plans in the strategy document to
address these issues.
The Chamber also notes that very little mention is made of innovation or creativity. Both are
widely regarded as invaluable skills for the twenty-first century and indispensable for
employment as well as self-fulfilment and a better quality of life.
The Chamber underscores the importance of maintaining and introducing initiatives which
support inclusivity and help struggling students to achieve the minimum levels.
Notwithstanding, it maintains that it is equally important to help gifted and talented students
to achieve their full potential.
The plan suggests efforts to make Vocational Education and Training (VET) more
responsive to technological developments. The Chamber maintains that improvements must
be made in terms of budget allocations to the appropriate streams (e.g., STEM subjects
require more investment than other areas), adequate human resources (including technical
and administrative staff), and the simplification of procurement procedures to ensure
adequate procurement in the appropriate time. It is also very important to make an emphasis
on Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
The gender gap referred to in the plan is a universal issue. While female participation tends
to be low in STEM subjects, it is important to consider the opposite trend in health sciences
and related programmes, such as education and nursing.
The Chamber also suggests that the plan be presented and discussed further with members
of civil society, and that task-forces proposed be underpinned by evidence-based research,
including that wherever available undertaken by scholars in Malta.