Malta’s Education Commissioner has flagged the formation of “ethnic gangs” within one of the country’s schools, calling for the creation of a centrally-located International School with “assimilation” of cultural groups proving to be difficult.
“One such particular aspect which is indeed extremely worrying and dangerous is ‘group-bullying’ by ethnic gangs formed within a school,” Charles Caruana Carabez said in his annual report.
The school he refers to is most likely the Santa Clara secondary school in Pembroke, which was thrust into the spotlight over the last year after several fights involving students, teachers and parents… some of which even ended in court.
While Caruana Carabez declines in his report to mention the school by name, he had launched an investigation into the issues at the school last December.
Caruana Carabez went on to note that he is convinced that the formation of “ethnic gangs” was caused by two main factors. The first involved a curricular dystopia, where foreign students are being forced to follow a syllabus that is not tailored to them and not considered useful.
“This complicated by the fact that some foreign students cannot, even with intermediate proficiency, speak or understand either Maltese or English, and this instinctively leads such students into seeking the company of students from their own country.”
“Naturally, the more students from a particular country, the larger, and hence more powerful, the gang will be,” he detailed.
The second relates to the students’ social background, with the Commissioner positing that the “troublesome foreign students seem to come from war-torn countries, and may have been brutalised by being exposed to violence at an early age”, while others have been rendered “soulless by political regimes”.
“Last, but not least, some students may have a family background which is far from ideal. The latter is becoming increasingly applicable to Maltese students, who, of course, form an obviously numerically-important part of the school environment,” he explained.
The fault, he explains, does also lie with a school that was expected to transform into an international school within a couple of months despite the changing demographics and lack of necessary structure, curricula and human resources.
Going further, Caruana Carabez said that the dramatic influx of families as a result “of geopolitical upheavals and economic turmoil in both Europe and Northern Africa” has further strained the system.
“While the only immediate solution was the absorption and inclusion of the children of these foreign students in the local schools, the very fact that assimilation is proving difficult strongly suggests that a more long-lasting solution needs to be found.”
“The Commissioner believes that the setting-up of a centrally-located International School wherein the students would receive instruction in their particular languages and wherein their particular cultures form part of the curriculum would go a long way to eliminate the aberrant behaviour emanating from boredom and subject-irrelevance. The Commissioner is aware, however, that this solution is fraught with difficulties and would offer a considerable challenge to the Government,” he fnished.