Yesterday evening, an article entitled “Reviewing KSU’s uneducated plans for education” by Tim Diacono and Francesca Borg Taylor-East appeared on insiteronline (http://insiteronline.com/news/reviewing-ksus-uneducated-plans-education/).
The following is KSU’s reply:
KSU would like to clarify a number of points which have been raised in the article “Reviewing KSU’s uneducated plans for education”. We cannot help but feel that the authors of this article have tried too hard to find reason to criticise the content of KSU’s Recommendations for the Education Act Review, exposing their misinformation about the intentions behind this document.
Firstly, it should be highlighted that these recommendations were discussed and agreed upon in KSU’s education policy wing, the Education Commission, which is made up of officially-elected student representatives from all faculties. In this respect, KSU was in fact completely in line with its statutorily-defined policy-making approach. Furthermore, the reason KSU makes its documents public is so individuals wishing to provide further feedback are allowed to do so at their own leisure.
Secondly, one must mention that KSU’s intention was to provide generic recommendations in line with a consultation document provided by the ministry.The consultation document was never intended to be KSU’s holistic plan for Education, the document was merely a follow-up of a number of meetings held with Minister Bartolo specifically on the Education Act and not on Education policy as a whole. In truth, the suggestions serve to indicate key areas of focus which should be given more attention within the legal framework that is the Education Act. The purpose of this was to ensure that the students’ council becomes a key stakeholder in any consultation exercises which are held, thereby securing students’ input in the whole process.
Although aspects of the recommendations are admittedly generic, the authors also attempt to undermine the validity of any concrete solutions which are put forward. The suggestion of strengthening student councils in primary and secondary schools is one initially touched upon in the consultation document provided by the ministry. At no point does KSU indicate that this is the only solution, but it also feels that consolidating this principle within the Education Act would be a beneficial step forward towards improving student involvement.
The authors also choose to shoot down KSU’s suggestion for the introduction of a recruitment office on campus grounds, involving ETC or Agenzija Zghazagh. Once again, while this is in no way touted as a conclusive solution, KSU firmly believes that increasing exposure to the world of work will not only provide students easier access to a job but also facilitate the process of acquiring soft skills to complement the contents of their course. The involvement of ETC or Agenzija Zghazagh, as suggested in our recommendations, also ensures that an entity capable of providing useful advice is also present. KSU is convinced that work experience closely tied to course content is key to improving students’ employability and as such this is reflected in other documents presented to the ministry of education by KSU, such as its recommendations on improving the Government Workphase Scheme. Once more, this section of the recommendations is not a conclusive or detailed report on graduate employability, but merely touches upon recommendations discussed with the Ministry in previous meetings. For a more in-depth study on graduate employability by KSU, we suggest looking at the student perspective written by KSU, as part of the following report commissioned by the NCFHE and the National Bologna Experts (http://llp.eupa.org.mt/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/02/K_Bologna-Report-brochure.pdf)
As regards its suggestions on Early School Leavers and Digital Education, KSU’s recommendations here are more generic given that it has already expressed general agreement, both in other documentation as well as consultation meetings, on the approaches proposed by MEE. KSU’s focus here was simply to reiterate, in more general terms, principles it had spoken about in the past.
Finally, KSU’s point on international standards makes direct reference to closer ties to the NCFHE. The authors completely disregard this fact and miss KSU’s point, which is about ensuring a robust quality assurance framework is implemented and maintained. The suggestions, which mainly focus on ensuring periodic review of courses and programmes as well as regular pedagogical training, are aimed at upholding an international standard of education at the tertiary level.
In conclusion, we feel that this article seeks to put down KSU’s genuine intention of putting the general student body on the radar when it comes to this consultation exercise. One must also keep in mind that the recommendations here are principles which should be included in a legal framework which cannot be made too prescriptive to allow for more feasible implementation on the ground. Lastly, KSU’s efforts to form part of this consultation exercise are more expansive than merely the compilation of this document, but have, and will continue to extend to further activities and meetings in order to follow up completely on the process.