Time for science in primary schools to be tripled as study shows weaknesses

The government is committed to triple the allocated time for science in primary schools as from next scholastic year, Education Minister Evarist Bartolo said today.

He said this would be done through more efficient time management which should also include a focus on literacy, he said.

The minister was speaking during the presentation of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2011, this afternoon.

This study showed that a lack of knowledge of the English language may have contributed to Maltese students answering incorrectly or skipping questions.

The achievement score of students who spoke English at home was higher than that of those who did not.

“We need to work more on time management to include bilingual literacy in primary school,” the minister said.

He added that being bilingual was a challenge in all sectors.

“As much as it is important for state school students to know how to speak English, it is also important for independent schools to have a good grasp of Maltese for students to develop more intellectually.

“From the next scholastic year, we need to find more time for literacy and science.”

The minister noted that 30 per cent of Maltese students did not even meet the low international benchmark. This compared to the international median of eight per cent.

On the other hand, only two per cent of Maltese students reached the advanced international benchmark against five per cent of international ones.

The study, which included Malta’s participation for the first time, was held among state, church and independent Year 5 students.

Malta placed 40th out of 50 countries obtaining an average scale score of 446, against the international average of 500.

The top best performing countries were Republic of Korea, Singapore, Finland and Japan.

Malta was the country which dedicated the least amount of time to sciences. While the international median was 85 hours a year, Malta dedicated 39 hours, Mr Bartolo said.

He said that the way sciences were taught had to be changed. This change had already started but more needed to be done.


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