The murder of 34-year-old mother of two Chantelle Chetcuti in Zabbar this week, made all the news headlines. It shocked the country and discussions on social media focused about the need for action. Domestic violence in all its forms is among the most underreported crimes worldwide.
Visiting St Thomas Moore Primary School in Żejtun, I spoke about the need of educating our children against domestic violence from a young age and stressed that education is one of the important tools society has to combat domestic violence.
I believe that it is of the utmost importance that we provide education in schools about domestic violence and related topics.
At St Thomas Moore Primary I was given an overview of the concept of Personal, Social and Career Development (PSCD) in Primary Schools, which I commend. Through this teaching from a young age, students are taught on emotions and reactions and how these can change in different situations, respect, bullying and how to address it, and respect towards people, gender and friendships, amongst others. In secondary schools, issues in relationships, domestic violence, the link between domestic violence and substance abuse, amongst others, are tackled in depth.
During this visit, which is part of a series of visits in schools and institutions, I also visited the school’s kindergarten and primary classrooms, and held a meeting with the head of school, staff and educators at the Żejtun Primary School.
These meetings are crucial, as they form part of my commitment to work towards strengthening the relationship with educators, parents and students. Listening to our teachers and students, will definitely ensure a more efficient education system, aimed for the benefit of future generations. Our aim is to continue working to provide better environments for our students, promote digital literacy and investment in research, and several incentives to improve the students’ educational journey.
There is more than teaching maths, languages and sciences at our schools. Whilst these topics are key to a sound education, other topics, as discussed above, help our young ones to further their personal and social development through education.
Teaching drama is another. This helps them develop skills such as creativity, communication, empathy, self-confidence, cooperation and leadership just to name a few. In addition, drama activities are fun, making learning both enjoyable and memorable.
This is what we want for our children, making their education journey a learning experience, but also in a “cool”, to use one of their buzzwords, environment.
Drama is also a medium to pass a message and engage our schoolchildren in a discussion enhancing their knowledge in social matters.
Visiting the Drama Unit I saw this in practise. I found the Drama Unit’s project Jennifer at the Drama Centre at Blata l-Bajda a great experience. Jennifer is a Theatre In Education project that deals with Sexual Consent aimed at Forms 3 and 4 and through this project, the pupils get to discuss and analyse the topic through discussion and Drama.
Another event commemorated this week was Holocaust Remembrance Day, at Sant’Anton Palace under the patronage of President George Vella.
Addressing the commemoration, I said that this marks a significant moment in our world history, not only for victims and survivors of these tragic events, but also for humankind. I also announced that the Ministry has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Yad Vashem - The World Holocaust Remembrance Centre - to ensure more awareness and promotion of common goals related to Holocaust education.
We have an obligation to not forget these events, as they serve as a reminder and as a lesson which history teaches us.
According to the 2019 Eurobarometer on “Perceptions of antisemitism”, 68% of Europeans feel that people in their country are not well informed about the history, customs and practices of national Jewish people in their country and only 5 in 10 Europeans think the Holocaust is sufficiently taught in school.
As a country, we already have an official Holocaust Memorial Day. From an educational perspective, Holocaust Education is present in Secondary, Upper Secondary, College and University level, whilst also being present in textbooks and extracurricular activities in our education system.
In this regard, the Ministry for Education and Employment has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Israel to ensure more awareness and promotion of common goals related to Holocaust Education.
Through this, we want to continue teaching the importance of our history as citizens of the world, develop an awareness of the value of pluralism and an acceptance of diversity and to commit to the meaningful commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Malta as well as the study of the Holocaust in Maltese schools.
Through this MoU, an expert on the subject visited Primary and Secondary Schools and the Higher Secondary, to further raise awareness on Holocaust Education.
Just last year, an anti-Semitism conference was organised, with another one in the works for this scholastic year. Thanks to this MoU, local educators will also be given the opportunity to participate in a training course which will look into Holocaust education and the underlying principles behind this historical event in Primary, Secondary, and post-Secondary schools.
The education ministry will continue to seek to support similar remembrance events with young students in Maltese schools, so that even our younger generations are made aware of our history and are taught the values of tolerance and acceptance.