Parents promoting the idea of homeschooling were met with closed doors when trying to meet the Education Ministry, a spokeswoman for the association in favour of this style of teaching said.

Melissa Bugeja, from the Malta Home Education Association, said the group had for months been trying to put its message across to the ministry that parents opting to homeschool their children should not have to obtain a teaching warrant.

Such parents felt that rigorous monitoring would be sufficient.

Speaking to the Times of Malta ahead of the publication of reforms to the Education Act, Ms Bugeja said: “We have been trying to have an open debate with the Education Ministry proposing that those who want to homeschool should not have to obtain a warrant but we’re getting nowhere.”

She added that the association had been told it was the Malta Union of Teachers that was putting pressure on the government to insist on the need of a warrant.

Appropriate teaching requires a remarkable degree of professionalism

She said that requiring such a warrant “goes against the scope of home education” adding that the majority of those opting to educate their children at home would not want to have to employ a teacher.

Contacted about the group’s claims, a spokeswoman for the Education Ministry said that, while it was ready to “cautiously” introduce the concept of homeschooling, the ministry needed to ensure the quality of education given to the children was maintained.

“Appropriate teaching requires a remarkable degree of professionalism, preparation and acumen.

“The teacher’s warrant is an attestation that the person has been deemed to possess the required qualifications to teach. Hence, irrespective of the context, whether at a school or elsewhere, such requirement prevails in the best interest of the minor and to ascertain a degree of quality provision,” the spokeswoman said.

Ms Bugeja said that the material used by those who opted to educate their children at home would be different from that used by teachers in schools.

“The books would, for instance, supply parents with information on certain concepts that they might not always be familiar with and that is enough,” she said.

A public consultation process on proposed changes to the Education Act, including the introduction of homeschooling, was launched by Education Minister Evarist Bartolo last year.

Parents keen to homeschool their children would have to apply to the Commission for General Education for permission to do so. Authorisation would be at the parents’ expense and be subject to the conditions laid down by the commission.

Lobbying for the introduction of homeschooling has been going on since at least 2014 and Mr Bartolo had hinted at its introduction back in 2013.

claire.caruana@timesofmalta.com

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