Is There Any Truth To The Claim That Malta Has A 'Teacher Shortage'?
What's Really Going On?
There's no disputing that teachers are paid a pittance and have to work long hours in a job that's very hard. It's also undeniable that a great deal of their time gets eaten up by mundane administrative tasks as opposed to actual teaching. And it's certainly in their right to demand better conditions and pay.
However a secondary story has been spun of late, mostly by a handful of politically motivated educators themselves where they allege that the teaching profession is so unwelcoming that many new people are not actually interested in becoming teachers. This, with a teacher demographic that's lopsidedly older, will lead, they tell us, to a future where teacher shortages are the norm, with our children will pay the price.
Terrifying isn't it? But the data tells a different story.
1. Most teachers aren't middle aged...they're actually quite young
Plotting the number of teachers in government, private and church school across their age ranges gives us the above graph. A caveat about the above graph is that it's old; the data is from 2006, but the situation probably isn't that different now because...
2. Teachers are still graduating in great numbers
In fact, the trend was pretty stable until it actually jumped up in 2015.
3. Graduates from other faculties become teachers too
Teaching isn't just for graduates from the faculty of education...for instance, a 2013 tracer study investigating where graduates from the faculty of Arts ended up revealed that 52.8% of all that faculty's students reached now work in education. It's worth noting that this source of teachers might be in peril for the future however; previously graduates could achieve a Postgraduate Certificate in Education after they had studied other subjects in order to teach it. Recently though, a 2 year Masters degree replaced this course.
4. Malta does better than the EU average in student-pupil ratios
The student-pupil ratios in Malta are better than the EU28 in primary education, where Malta has a teacher for every 13.6 children as opposed to the EU's 15.1, in secondary education, where Malta has a teacher for every 8.9 pupils as opposed to the EU's 12.9 and tertiary education, where the student to academic staff is the lowest in the whole EU, with just 9.8 students per staff member as opposed to the EU average of 15.6.
Since the data didn't break down the number of teachers by subject, what may be missing is whether the shortage is isolated to a handful of subjects - and to be fair, some teachers have only said that the shortage is expected to hit core subjects like English, Maths, Maltese and Primary school teachers.
Now all of this isn't to say that teacher's grievances are not legitimate, but the numbers show that Malta's teacher population is pretty well distributed over the age range, and the University still seems to be chugging out a healthy supply of teachers or students who find themselves working as teachers.