Have you ever stopped to think about the lifestyle of many Maltese people, their daily life, their habits, how they spend their leisure time? It is very disappointing that our examination-oriented education system continues to turn out many students who, after leaving school, seem to be content with living a passive, mediocre type of life characterised by non-participation in most social events not immediately affecting their personal life. Let me give some examples.

It is a mid-week summer evening. In several towns and villages, whole families take out chairs and sit for hours on end on their doorstep, some chatting and others simply staring at the people and the cars passing by. Those living in streets with heavy traffic seem not to be worried by the fact that they are exposing themselves to carcinogenic fumes emitted by the high density of vehicles passing in front of them.

Mary is a Maltese housewife. She watches a lot of television. She makes it a point never to miss the programme about the woes of others and which is so popular with all her friends and with the majority of Malta's televiewers. However, when there is a serious discussion programme about pressing national problems, she switches the TV set off as she also does when a programme about Maltese history is on air.

John is a Maltese youth. He supports a famous foreign football team and is a mine of information on "his team". He can tell you the names of all the players on the books of his favourite foreign club. However, if you ask him who was the Maltese Prime Minister when Malta became independent, he is not so sure. Was it Eddie Fenech Adami? Dom Mintoff? George Borg Olivier? Sorry, but he is not so keen on these "things" as he is about his favourite foreign football team!

These examples show how mediocre is the lifestyle of many Maltese people. They are simply content to go to work and then use their free time engaging in trivial pursuits and avoiding much more culturally enriching experiences and participation in social events. It is simply a culture of mediocrity.

It is pertinent to ask some questions.

How many Maltese participate in local sports events compared to the vast number who simply watch foreign sports events? How many Maltese are engaged in work in non-governmental organisations, doing something concrete for the benefit of society such as in the environmental field? Is it not degrading that so many Maltese youths are so poor in their knowledge of Maltese history? Is it not a shame that serious current affairs programmes on television are shunned by so many and then pathetic programmes about the personal lives and problems of others are so popular? Why do we still see Maltese people wasting their time away by chatting for hours on end with the neighbours or simply staring blankly into space on the steps of the local parish church? Why is it that only a minority of Maltese citizens patronise many cultural events?

There is something very wrong with our education system since this culture of mediocrity seems to be reproducing itself over the years. What was acceptable in the early 20th century is surely not acceptable in the year 2006. We have to analyse where we are failing and take immediate action. Having people waste their time is not an option in this age of fast progress when every minute is important if the country is to move on with the times.