Labour spokesman for Education Evarist Bartolo said today that the education system needs to be improved to increase the 44% success rate of 16 year old students who obtain the necessary passes in SEC subjects to continue at sixth form level. Addressing a press conference on education Bartolo said that 41% of our 16 year olds do not obtain a grade 1 – 5 in Maltese after at least 11 years of schooling. Bartolo said: “60% of our 16 year olds pass in English grade 1 – 5. 53% pass grade 1 – 5 in Mathematics, 51% in Physics and 21% in Computer Studies. Should we jump up and down and celebrate these results and forget that 56% of our 16 year olds do not pass grade 1 – 5 in the main subjects they will need to get on in education?”
Bartolo said that government includes those who get grades 6 and 7 to inflate the figures and to show a better pass rate. He said: “What marks do these students when they are given grade 6 and 7? Should we be satisfied and lower our expectations, instead of raising standards and challenging our students to do so as well?”
Bartolo said that the 468 16-year olds who did not even register for any SEC exam should not be forgotten. Over 200 students register and then do not turn up for the exams because they have given up. They should not be ignored. Bartolo asked: “What about our young men and women with learning difficulties and disabilities? In 1995 we had over 460 students with dyslexia who could have sat for the SEC exams. Only a quarter of them, about 121 of them registered for a SEC exam in the main subjects. How many of them passed grade 1 – 5? Only 39 out of 460 in English, 12 in Computer Studies, 23 in Maltese and 31 in Physics. If we really want to improve our education system and increase the opportunities in life for many more young people, we need to a frank and honest evaluation of the system.
Addressing the same conference Labour spokesman for Higher Education Owen Bonnici said that according to the MATSEC Board 2011 Report 24% of 18 year old last year obtained the Matriculation certificate. He said that a knowledge society and an economy based on high skills need more of our young people to study at tertiary level. He said that an unacceptably high rate of 17 year olds who continue studying drop out by the age of 19 after they fail at progressing beyond foundation level or drop out in their early years.
He said that last year while 82% continue in education at age 17 they had dropped to 52% for those aged 19.