Malta’s compulsory age for education could be raised in the near future after Prime Minister Joseph Muscat floated the idea of a public debate on the issue during a political activity.
The current age for compulsory education is 16, with Malta having one of the highest rates of early school leavers in the entire European Union.
While some countries enforced schooling until the age of 17 or 18, making the change would not be an easy decision.
Muscat said that while there existed a number of arguments to increase the age, especially in view of Malta’s current academic record, the economy would need to prepare for it, given the temporary shortage of labour it would create.
In what seems to be a common theme in most Muscat addresses, he said such a shortage would mean a bigger demand for foreign workers.
Meanwhile, he also pointed out that there are a number of low-income families who rely on the employment of members once they reach 16.
His entire address was education-focused, insisting that the government remained focused on improving conditions for both students and teachers, who he said would enjoy further salary increases in the coming years.
He poured water on claims that several educators were resigning, claiming that only 34 resigned last year.
With regards to students themselves, Muscat said the introduction of vocational training was helping a number of students, and while the previous government was focused on building schools, the government was more focused on improving the current infrastructure.
Muscat did find the time in his address to focus on climate change after parliament declared a climate emergency last week. He called for a change in mentality, but also praised the government for converting the country to LNG, while also stressing the need to tackle the massive emissions caused by cars.