Fr Peter launches scathing attack on education policy
Education authorities yesterday came in for a scathing attack from philosopher and former University Rector Fr Peter Serracino Inglott, who said the implementation of the National Minimum Curriculum was the biggest ever disaster in the field.
“Never in Malta did we have a situation where the central education authority left no space for freedom, originality and innovation for our teachers as was done since the National Minimum Curriculum was introduced,” Prof. Serracino Inglott said.
His impassioned comments came at the end of a debate on the Nationalist Party’s Our Roots policy document, which recasts an earlier document known as Basic Principles.
Prof. Serracino Inglott, a one-time PN strategist and adviser to Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami said such over-centralisation of education ran against what the Nationalist Party stood for.
“We are now justifying this abuse of the law by removing the word minimum from the title... and will continue to destroy education by leaving no space for that individuality and autonomy which in the Basic Principles we had declared should be the characteristics of each school,” he said.
The NMC, a milestone document launched in 1999, was meant to be a collection of minimum benchmarks for what should be taught in Maltese schools.
Instead, Prof. Serracino Inglott said, it had been made into a cast iron dictum for teachers, leaving them no space to teach anything other than what is included in the NMC.
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, who spoke immediately after Prof. Serracino Inglott, said he felt the point was valid and promised to take the matter up with Education Minister Dolores Cristina.
But Prof. Serracino Inglott’s comments followed those of others who also expressed concern that the education system seemed to be producing students who possessed technical knowledge but little else. Former MP Michael Asciak said his daughters were unable to engage him when he challenged them with questions about “bread and butter” issues despite them both being undergraduates.
Philosopher Joe Friggieri, who was on the panel of speakers, said that some results in education did not tally with the investment being made.
“The Prime Minister always highlights the millions we are spending on education every day, the schools being opened, and so I ask myself if there is something that we need to revise in our educational system?”
Beyond education, the debate spanned far and wide, touching on fundamental issues like Malta’s position on the future of Europe and what kind of EU Malta should be lobbying for. There was also brief mention of the debate on Constitutional reform in which, again, Prof. Serracino Inglott weighed in, saying he agreed with radical reforms to the Constitution – what the Labour Party has been referring to as the founding of a Second Republic.
“Incidentally, I am in favour of this,” he said. “If it were up to me we would switch to a Presidential system, we would set up the second chamber (in the House of Representatives), we would change the Commission for the Administration of Justice because it is evidently not working... I find it surprising that we haven’t seriously thought of tackling it so far.”
Prof. Friggieri also referred to damning comments made last week by Mr Justice Michael Mallia while sentencing Josette Bickle to 12 years for trafficking heroin in prison with near impunity.
“The prison system, in my view needs to be revolutionised,” he said.
“This is something that has always concerned me but what we heard (last) week about what goes on in prison should really worry us all.”