Opinions

Should Compulsory Education be extended to 18?

Compulsory education is a necessary component to ensure that all students are exposed to a basic level of scholastic participation and attendance. In a society which focuses on enhanced literacy, a certain amount of years of school attendance are absolutely necessary. Recent reports seem to indicate that the Government is considering extending compulsory education to eighteen years of age.

In a recent political meeting, Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat said that he is looking forward to a public debate regarding the extension of compulsory school education. This would be aimed at addressing future economic challenges. He also indicated that this measure is currently being discussed within Government fora.

Although there are countries which have already raised their compulsory education age to seventeen or eighteen, this is not a straightforward decision. The discussion relating to this extension in compulsory education is endorsed by Minister Evarist Bartolo.

The Prime Minister states that there is a strong argument which favours the extension in compulsory school education. With that said, he also emphasised that it needs to be well prepared, as it would lead to a temporary shortage of working staff, which impacts employers and would require more foreigners. Joseph Muscat also made reference to those low-income families who would rely on their sixteen-year-olds to work and earn a salary.

The Prime Minister stated that economic growth, although important is not the only priority for the Government. Education is also of a high priority and a silent revolution is taking place.

As part of the Government’s commitment to providing a better learning experience for students, modern technology is integrated into all schools. One such example would be the tablet computers for schoolchildren which illustrates that the Government is treating IT literacy with a certain sense of priority.

Measures are also being taken to prevent children from dropping out of school. In this regard, numbers have improved, highlighting lesser school-leavers as time progressed. As one would expect, extending compulsory education would require more teachers. The Government is working on improving the working conditions of teachers. Such an example would include further salary increments in the coming years.

The Prime Minister also highlighted that certain comments were exaggerated and that only thirty-four teachers left the profession last year. When stating this he took a swipe at the opposition, saying that more people leave the Nationalist party.

What is your view on compulsory education? Do you think it would be good to extend it? Let us know in the comments section below.

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