The rates of illiteracy in Malta are worryingly high, and it is clear that the problem is not being tackled as thoroughly as it should. This is the Malta that matters.
Illiteracy must be tackled by the political classes and by the most literate as those who are not literate may not have the tools to help themselves.
How can the NP be taken seriously on education if we have an illiteracy rate, which for boys at least is the worst in Europe? Admittedly our education system is self evidently good for high flyers. The percentage of Maltese who obtain first class degrees abroad is one of the many indications that our top students are tops among Europeans too.
There is no doubt about the high level of Maltese talent, but too many are being left behind and the evidence for this degeneration is overwhelming.
This evidence is not merely to be found among statistics about those who don’t go on to sixth form or University. These statistics are going to be challenged with Labour’s proposal to give all young people access to training education or the job market if Labour are chosen to govern after the next election
The most damning evidence is there in the way people behave to each other, in the daily scenes of aggression at Paceville, in the recent scenes at an illegal Marsaxlokk camp site, on our roads where road rage rules, and in our homes where domestic violence is soaring.
It is also evident in this gung ho approach we seem to be taking to solving crimes, as if people no longer have faith in our courts specifically, and in our system of justice in general.
Lino Spiteri recently wrote about incidents at Paceville that should have galvanised the Police into action and yet inertia rules and we have reports of policemen themselves sometimes being bullies too. A terrible indictment as it reflects badly on all Police officers which is wrong and unfair.
Education and literacy matters. An education system which doesn’t educate has very serious long term implications for all our quality of lives.
That is why it was amazing that the Minister for Education is so silent about illiteracy. It is the most basic measure by which our society can be judged and yet all we got was a deafening silence. Labour’s proposal to combat literacy as explained by Evarist Bartolo is a good step in the right direction. The direction of what matters most in Malta because it impacts on us all, the literate and those who are not yet literate.