Stipends system essential for inclusive education - Christopher Cutajar

The Times, Monday, 23rd March 2009
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20090323/letters/stipends-system-essential-for-inclusive-education

 

Żminijietna Left Youth, Alternattiva Demokratika Żgħażagħ, General Workers' Union Youth, Moviment Graffitti, Forum Żgħażagħ Laburisti, Science Students' Society, Greenhouse and Għaqda Studenti Ħarsien Soċjali welcome the report of the University Students' Council on the importance of having quality education that reflects the needs and development of contemporary society.
On the other hand, these organisations are concerned with certain comments being put forward by some, including the Ecofin Country Focus (commissioned by the European Commission) and the Chalmers Report (commissioned by the government), which are questioning Malta's stipend system.

Malta has made tremendous advances in post-secondary and tertiary education over the past years, and the stipend system has helped encourage thousands of students to continue their studies. Without stipends, many students would have experienced much difficulty in furthering their studies. Still, Malta has the lowest participation rate in post-secondary and tertiary education in the EU. Reduction of stipends would surely not help the situation.

The Ecofin Country Focus and the Chalmers Report want to turn the clock back towards an elitist form of education where only the privileged have complete access.

The above organisations believe that the stipends system should be maintained, while being ensured that grants are being used for educational, and not other, purposes. The system should also be more generous towards students in institutions such as Mcast.
We believe that during the summer months, students should also benefit from schemes through which they can match their studies with practical work. This can include applied work, research, technical work, artistic work and other experiences.
If Malta truly aims for a higher student participation rate in post-secondary and tertiary education, the way forward is to move Malta's primary and secondary school system away from streaming and towards more inclusive forms of education. We agree with the government's proposals in this regard.

Christopher Cutajar, PRO, Żminijietna Left Youth, Valletta


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