The Education Ministry has announced the new Education Act, which includes the legalisation of home-schooling. This is set to come into force as of October 1st. However, applicants will be bound to several requirements.
Firstly, parents must have a valid reason as to why this is in the best interest of the child. But what counts as a “valid reason”?
Higher Education Authority Head Legal Dennis Zammit provided one example – that of families who move countries very frequently.
Furthermore, home educators must have a teaching warrant and license. Anyone caught providing home education without a license will be liable to a daily fine of up to €100.
Zammit explained that parents who opt for the system would have to present an educational programme and syllabus that included social and physical education components. Parents who register for home-schooling will also be audited to ensure compliance.
Moreover, by law, parents who wish to educate their children at home must ensure they “have a social experience equivalent to that provided in schools”.
Also, the student must be afforded the same “facilities” as those in schools. This raises a number of concerns.
How can a child be provided with the same social experience as that in schools, from a home education? How will parents be able to provide adequate sports facilities, play areas and laboratories?
The Act does not provide any clarifications beyond these statements.
Critics of the Bill, including teacher and PN councillor Justin Schembri, have stated that the conditions imposed will essentially render home education impossible.
Talks about introducing home-schooling have been ongoing since at least 2013. Lobbying to allow the practice has increased over the years, with interested parents saying they want to “save” their children from the academic pressure of mainstream schooling. The Act itself has been in the works since 2019.
Challenges in Malta’s education system were highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Zammit stating that a one size fits all approach to an education system is no longer viable.
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