Home education will be legalised in Malta but it will be extremely difficult for parents to actually provide it to their children.
An Education Bill currently being debated in Parliament states it will be lawful for parents to apply to the Division of Education to provide home education to their children, provided the application isn’t made on racist or similar grounds.
However, applicants will be bound to several requirements that will be pretty difficult to fulfil.
First of all, home educators must be in possession of a teacher’s warrant and must follow an accredited programme, approved by the Division of Education. This means that if a parent wants their child to be educated during school hours, they must find a warranted teacher who is available during that time.
Anyone caught providing home education without a license will be liable to a daily fine of up to €100.
Finding a licensed teacher will only be the first hurdle though. By law, parents who wish to educate their children at home must ensure they “have a social experience equivalent to that provided in schools” and are afforded “the same experience and abilities as those in schools”.
The law doesn’t provide clarifications beyond these statements but this appears to entirely rule out small classes and one-on-one home education. It also appears as though parents will have to provide adequate sports facilities, play areas and laboratories.
Teacher and PN councillor Justin Schembri wrote in an opinion piece for In-Nazzjon that the conditions imposed by this Bill will essentially render home education impossible.
“This ambiguity must be clarified because no home education can provide a social environment that is so necessary for child development and no home education can provide sport facilities and other facilities like laboratories,” he said.
Indeed, he said he is concerned that parents who want to home school their children will eventually lobby the Education Minister to relax the teaching restrictions and allow unwarranted teachers to provide home education.