Malta’s education system ground to a screeching halt once the COVID-19 pandemic hit the islands, but students have been left in the dark while uncertainty clouds their future.
Becoming a new sixth form or university student in 2020 is a daunting task.
Schools were closed down, exams jostled around, and students doubtful over whether they’ll make the cut for the sixth form or course they wanted to join.
We hoped the government would find solutions come September with each of us eager to start a new chapter.
It’s been six months, and it seems that authorities have failed to do so.
Just two weeks away from the first day of sixth form and all we have is unclear guidelines, weak enforcement and unpreparedness while the number of active cases surge.
From the perspective of a student, it feels like we’ve been let down and deprived of the standard of education we were expecting in these crucial years.
Schools reopening seems like a desperate attempt to put the pandemic to bed and carry on with our lives normally. But, realistically, that’s not possible without a vaccine.
Portions of the Maltese public have proven time and time again they are unwilling to follow necessary social distancing measures. Many students live with vulnerable people. How are they meant to feel safe?
These students have been given little other option with no online contingency plan in place. They could miss out on vital parts of their education and social development. That’s not fair.
Six months is ample time to create a virtual-physical hybrid scheme or even simply two separate plans which can be implemented according to the circumstances.
Rushing to implement reactionary measures will be chaotic and inefficient. Without a plan, authorities have remained stubborn and are now putting public health at risk because of it.
Admittedly, no one could prepare for the pandemic, and mistakes will still be made. The least that can be demanded is transparency in the decisions being made.
As KSU said: “It is worrying and disappointing that no attempt to reassure students was made and that no students were involved in the preparation of guidelines.”
Authorities must act quickly. Establishing a quality network where syllabi can be accessed online could be a start, even if the provision of this network means the delay in the reopening of schools.
Adequate resources should also be provided to students to ensure they can continue their education while also safeguarding their health.
Whatever the answer, reopening the schools during a time of so much uncertainty is not the solution.