The Ministry for Education is responsible for the provision of education according to the Education Act XXIV of 1988 and subsequent amendments. The objective of the Ministry for Education is to provide present and future generations with the necessary skills and talents for citizenship and employability, in the 21st century and beyond.
The Ministry for Education is committed to continually improve on the services it offers. The Ministry works closely with the Better Regulation Unit and the Commissioner for Simplification and Reduction of Bureaucracy, to ensure that better regulation principles and procedures are applied consistently throughout the Ministry. The educational system in Malta has in these last years experienced an influx of learners from a migrant background. This influx arose from social, economic and political events. A number of these newly-arrived learners can access mainstream education without problems, but another cohort has significant difficulties in communication because they do not speak either Maltese or English which are the languages of instruction in Maltese schools.
The Ministry for Education has taken steps to support newcomer learners in their educational trajectory. The Ministry has established the Migrant Learners’ Unit (MLU) which seeks to promote the inclusion of newly arrived learners into the education system. The unit values each learner’s well-being through the provision of a holistic educational experience while focusing on the acquisition of linguistic and socio-cultural competences. The unit recognizes the need to value and involve all the stakeholders concerned for this educational experience to succeed. MLU currently has two Educational Officers managing the Unit. There are around 70 teachers working within this Unit. Their main job is that of induction of migrant students who are in their first year in Malta, to support them to integrate in the Maltese Educational system. The teachers are spread in different schools around Malta, according to the number of migrant students’ intake that that school has had for that year.
The MLU seeks to promote the inclusion of newly arrived learners into the education system. The Unit has as its core value: the support to the new comers’ migrants into Malta and their integration into the Maltese educational system. The unit values each learner’s well-being through the provision of a holistic educational experience while focusing on the acquisition of linguistic and socio-cultural competences.
The Unit specializes in the integration process. This process is split into three important areas. The first one is supporting the students in their linguistic skills. Since they have just arrived to Malta, they might find it difficult to communicate with the other students due to linguistic barriers. Therefore, teachers from MLU specialize and are given training about approaches to teaching basic conversation skills in Maltese and English. Supporting the students in the acquisition of these two languages is proven to be very beneficial, since these are the two languages needed to communicate in Malta. MLU also specializes in supporting the acquisition of socio-cultural competences. This entails creating a space and the right tools for students to learn more about the appropriate behaviors such as norms, roles and social factors; as well as the cultural aspect which entails art appreciation, language appreciation, music from various cultures and other cultural factors.
The third area which MLU specializes is ‘sensitivity’ in teachers. Since the migrant students are in their first year in Malta, this means that might still be settling in. A big percentage of them have travelled to Malta and have left family and friends behind. This emotional baggage, most often is transferred in schools. Therefore, teachers at MLU are trained in being sensitive, emphatic and aware of what the students are feeling. The teachers try to create a space where the migrant students feel at ease and safe to tell their feelings. Then the teachers deal with the that feeling is shown and offers appropriate guidance.