Significant turbulence in SEC results

The results obtained by students in the core subjects of SEC exams are further confirmation that all is not well with the management of our educational system. This does not bode well for the country’s future socio-economic prospects.

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo outlined some disappointing SEC pass rates obtained by students this year. The statistics are very partial and may hide a much more turbulent situation that the headline figures indicate. Unfortunately, the benchmarks used to assess these results may not indicate sufficiently the extent of the underperformance of Maltese students leaving secondary education.

Only 40 per cent of Maltese students sitting for mathematics passed their exams by obtaining a grade between 1 and 5. This metric is definitely not significant enough. In England, for instance, in 2013, 57.6 per cent of students obtained a pass mark between A and C in their GCSE exams in Mathematics, and 63.6 per cent passed their English GCSE exam.

Worryingly, the Ministry for Education “was not able to provide percentage pass rates for each subject”. Don’t parents, students and the general public have the right to know the full details of these seemingly disappointing results? Equally important is information on which schools are performing better than others. Are private schools, for instance, achieving better results than State schools? The first thing that needs to be done by the Ministry of Education is to provide a full breakdown of this year’s SEC results so that one can start to draw some meaningful conclusions.

The emphasis on the short-term remedial action that will be provided through revision classes that will be held in summer is understandable. But this does not obviate the need for a more thorough soul searching exercise by the educational authorities to get to the root of these disappointing results.

Those who have a vested interest in our educational system are asking some very relevant questions. One such question is whether our private and State schools are doing enough to attract the best talent among graduates to teach English, mathematics and science.

There is a very competitive market for top grade graduates in these subjects and unless our schools attract the right applicants, our students start out in their learning process at a big disadvantage. Ironically parents often end up footing the bill for the false economy of schools recruiting insufficiently suitable teachers by having to send their children to better qualified private tutors.

Another question that some observers of our educational system are asking is whether the philosophy being adopted by the academics who design curriculums is indeed yielding the best results.

Many argue that these policymakers may have lost touch with the real life of the classroom and are unwittingly lowering the standards of teaching on the pretext of providing equal opportunities for everyone.

Earlier this year the debate on streaming erupted again and questions are being asked as to whether mixed-ability classes are indeed producing the best possible results.

The details on the SEC results given by the Ministry of Education are incomplete and as such inadequate for a proper analysis. Mr Bartolo has in the past rightly complained about the poor results achieved by Maltese students in international educational achievement benchmarking exercises like PISA.

Now is the time to be fully transparent on the diagnosis of the problems that are afflicting our educational system by providing meaningful analysis of the results achieved by our students.


See our Comments Policy Comments are submitted under the express understanding and condition that the editor may, and is authorised to, disclose any/all of the above personal information to any person or entity requesting the information for the purposes of legal action on grounds that such person or entity is aggrieved by any comment so submitted. Please allow some time for your comment to be moderated.

Comments not loading? We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox with javascript turned on.
Comments powered by Disqus