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MUT says no pressure over homeschooling on ministry

The homeschooling concept cannot be taken lightly, promoters contend.

The homeschooling concept cannot be taken lightly, promoters contend.

The Malta Union of Teachers has fended off claims by parents lobbying for home education that it was putting pressure on the Education Ministry not to allow homeschooling without a warrant.

The union said it was “totally against” homeschooling and objected to the very concept of education at home. Parents who said last week they were finding closed doors when trying to meet the Education Ministry said the union’s objections to homeschooling without the requirement of warrant were contributing to this.

Melissa Bugeja, from the Malta Home Education Association, told the Times of Malta the ministry was dismissing suggestions by parents on homeschooling and “beating around the bush” instead.

“This isn’t something you take lightly and we’ve carried out re-search but this is not even being taken into consideration and during education department meetings we were told that there has been union pressure,” the mother said.

This is way beyond our ethical approach to trade unionism

Contacted for a reaction to the claims, MUT president Kevin Bonello categorically denied the union had ever asked the ministry or any other authority to refrain from discussing certain issues with other entities.

“We never do this type of thing and it is way beyond our ethical approach to trade unionism. The MUT objects to the whole concept [of homeschooling],” Mr Bonello said.

The MUT was “totally against” homeschooling unless there were health issues involved.

“Home schooling deprives young children from the much needed skills and informal learning that can only be acquired through social interaction with peers,” Mr Bonello noted.

He added that in cases of abuse by guardians, children would also be deprived of the opportunity to seek help.

“The MUT believes that homeschooling may also result as an opportunity for extremists of any faith to start building their networks and ‘education’.”

A spokeswoman for the Education Ministry said that while it was ready to “cautiously” introduce the concept of homeschooling, the ministry needed to ensure the quality of education given to the children was maintained.

A public consultation process on proposed changes to the Education Act, including the introduction of homeschooling, was launched by Education Minister Evarist Bartolo last year.

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