The education and training system comprises:
- preschool education (ISCED 0);
- primary education (ISCED Level 1);
- secondary education (ISCED Levels 2 and 3);
- post-secondary general education (ISCED Level 3);
- post-secondary vocational education and training (ISCED Levels 3 and 5);
- tertiary education (ISCED levels 6,7 and 8).
Early childhood education and care, available for children from the age of 3 months up to 2 years and 9 months, is provided at centres run by both the state State and private entities. As from April 2014, families with both parents in full-time or part-time employment or in education are entitled to free childcare. Children between the ages of 2 years and 9 months and 5 years attend kindergarten classes that are operated by State, church and independent schools.
Compulsory education is distributed over 11 years and covers the ages from 5 to 16 years. It consists of two cycles: the primary cycle (from age 5 to 11) and the secondary cycle (from age 11 to 16) which consists of middle Schools (from age 11 to 13) and secondary schools (from age 13 to 16). Around 50% of students in compulsory education attend state schools, another 36% go to church schools and around 14% are in independent schools.
Primary education consists of a six-year programme that addresses general and vocational themes. Learners are streamed in the last two years and sit for the national end of primary benchmark assessment in year 6 to determine their level of education.
As from 2014, co-education has been introduced in the secondary cycle. The phasing in of middle schools (from age 11 to 13) ensures that smaller sized school communities result in more individual attention and a more caring environment that promotes better student-teacher relationships. Parent involvement is encouraged with a view of preventing disengagement. The curriculum addresses general and vocational skills.
All secondary schools (from age 13 to 16) provide general education courses and also options for students who want to follow a vocational career pathway. At the end of secondary education students are awarded a Secondary School Certificate & Profile (SSC&P) that recognizes formal, non-formal and informal education. Students may sit for the secondary education certificate exams that are a prerequisite for taking up many of the programmes available at upper-secondary and post-secondary level.
Following compulsory education students can choose to follow either a general or a vocational post-secondary education path (from age 16 to 18). General and some vocational education programmes are intended to lead to tertiary education. The main institutions at post-secondary level are the Malta junior college, the Giovanni Curmi Higher secondary school, the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology and the Institute of Tourism Studies, the latter providing hospitality courses.
The University of Malta (UoM) (
), also an autonomous institution, offers tertiary general education programmes ranging from certificate and under-graduate level to doctoral level. Tertiary vocational education is provided by Malta college of arts, science and technology’s university college. It is envisaged that Institute of Tourism Studies will also start to provide degree courses. Private organisations also provide post- secondary and tertiary education ( ).
- For students with an EQF level 1 qualification: one-year introduction and foundation programmes (lower secondary, ISCED-P 253) leading to an EQF level 1 or 2 certificate. They integrate key competences within the vocational aspects of the curriculum, include work experience, and give access to studies at the next EQF level in the same field. The most popular fields of study are manufacturing, construction and arts and humanities. Foundation certificate holders can continue VET in one- to two-year apprenticeship schemes (upper secondary, ISCED-P 353) leading to a VET diploma (EQF level 3);
- for students with an EQF level 2 compulsory education qualification: two-year, mainly school- (college-) based programmes (upper secondary, ISCED-P 353) leading to a VET diploma (EQF level 3). These programmes include work-based learning and give access to programmes at the next level;
- for those with an EQF level 3 compulsory education qualification: VET programmes (post-secondary, ISCED-P 454) leading to an advanced VET diploma (EQF level 4). There are school (college)-based two-year programmes and two- to three-year apprenticeship schemes. Some programmes can be followed either college-based or on apprenticeship. VET diploma (EQF level 3) holders can enter these programmes as well.
VET in higher education includes:
- two-year college-based programmes (ISCED-P 554) leading to higher VET diplomas at EQF level 5. A VET advanced diploma (EQF level 4) is required for entry. Higher VET diplomas are equivalent to a degree after the first two years of a university programme; they allow entry to the third year of VET bachelor programmes provided graduates meet entry requirements. Higher VET diploma graduates from the Institute of Tourism Studies can also pursue a bachelor in tourism programme at the university of Malta;
- three- to four-year bachelor programmes (ISCED 655, leading to EQF level 6) which open up progression opportunities to selected academic master programmes. Institute of Tourism Studies offers three VET bachelor programmes. VET bachelor programmes are open to:
- sixth-form graduates with two advanced and two intermediate level passes;
- Malta College of Arts Science and Technology advanced diploma (EQF level 4) graduates;
- VET higher diploma programme graduates (see above);
- Institute of Tourism Studies diploma (MQF level4);
- Institute of Tourism Studies Higher National Diploma (MQF level 5)
- three-year part-time VET master programmes (EQF level 7) at Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology. In 2016/17 an MBA for small business and a master of business informatics programmes were offered for the first time. Graduates with an academic bachelor degree from the University of Malta or a Malta College of Arts Science and Technology VET bachelor degree can enter these programmes. By February 2019, the suite of Master’s programmes offered at Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology will go up to thirteen.
Government’s ambition is to become a learning society by developing adult education especially continuing VET and easing access to these forms of learning. The education and employment ministry’s department for employment, research, lifelong learning and employability (
) is the main provider of part-time adult learning courses. Its adult learning unit offers over 500 EQF level 1-5 courses in community-based learning centres, local councils and community centres. Most courses develop basic key competences, but the offer also includes continuing VET and visual and performing arts courses.
State VET providers also offer continuing VET courses. Around 300 part-time courses at Malta college of Arts, Science and Technology cater to adults who cannot take part in full-time programmes due to employment, business, family or other commitments. They support career development and, in some cases, enable participants to take up more specialised jobs.
Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology provides tailor made courses to industry, on demand. In view of the general shortage of workers, industries are resorting to upskilling their own employees rather than solely seeking readily-skilled employees from outside their firm. During 2015, 62% of enterprises provided some form of continuous vocational training. These included; in-house continuing VET courses, job rotation, exchanges, secondments, study-visits, conferences, workshops, learning circles or self-directed learning.
Firms might well provide in-house training to their employees but partnering with Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology gives them the opportunity to provide employees with level-rated courses and Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology -badged certification, either for full qualifications or for partial awards, both pegged to the Malta qualifications framework. As a result, the population of part-time students at Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology is increasing, with Maltese and foreign workers choosing to upskill themselves, directly or through their employers, in order to get higher accredited and Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology -badged certification.