The University of Malta's Faculty of Education has cautiously backed talk of importing foreign teachers to make up for shortfalls in the school system. 

In a statement, the Faculty said that an alternative pool of teachers, such as foreign qualified teachers, may need to be temporarily tapped to make up for shortfalls.

But it stressed that such recruits ought to meet current qualifications.

At the same time, the faculty added, this crisis should be tackled by the authorities through more long-term initiatives such as stronger, ongoing teaching career promotional campaigns and allocating a higher stipend to teacher-trainees, as has been done in other areas of shortage.

There should also be better teachers’ salaries and better opportunities for career progression to reflect the challenging demands of the profession.

"The faculty thus invites those in the sector to respect teaching as a profession and in no way consider watering down teacher-education programmes as this will have long-term consequences on our young generation," it said.

Plans for foreign teachers

The Permanent Secretary within the Education Ministry, Frank Fabri, revealed a few days ago that a call would be issued for foreign supply teachers. The move is meant to address teacher shortages in Mathematics, English and Information Technology.

The faculty underlined the internationally-recognised quality of its teacher-education programmes. 

It stressed that its programme is based on school realities, discussing issues related to the social, emotional and educational needs of learners.

Subject pedagogy is part of the core programme and focuses on how teachers can cater for learners’ individual characteristics, to maximise their potential, by going beyond learning basic subject knowledge.

"Faculty graduates are thus equipped with the awareness of issues pertaining to children and young people in today’s society and with the skills to ensure equity, equality, respect for diversity and inclusion.

"The goal is to form teachers who will enhance students’ holistic development and not just the academic aspect of the curriculum.

"This is why we have always been concerned about the engagement of supply teachers in schools who are being recruited with minimal requirements," the faculty said.

It said it had been quick to respond to teacher needs in the education sector by offering, for example, teacher-education programmes in Vocational Education to form graduates who could teach the various subjects being introduced in schools, as well as programmes on how to teach Maltese as a foreign language in order to cater for the many foreign students in schools.

People working in industry also had the opportunity to train to move into the teaching profession, whilst unqualified teachers had the possibility of furthering their studies.

The faculty has also launched an M.A. course to retrain current qualified teachers to teach vocational and applied subjects, it said.