Girls do better at reading, science and mathematics because Malta’s school system is based on a more traditional model, according to one of the country’s leading experts on education.

Speaking ahead of International Women’s Day, Prof. Carmel Borg, from the University of Malta’s Faculty of Education, says teenage girls do better than boys because the country has a less progressive method of teaching.

“When you look at countries like Finland and Estonia for example, they no longer see academic results as the only measure of success. Here in Malta, we still see the traditional grading system as the only sign of intelligence.”

He was reacting to a recent report know as PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) which interviewed more than 3,300 15-year-old boys and girls across Malta.

Countries like Finland and Estonia no longer see academic results as the only measure of success

The study – which stretched across 78 countries – found that girls did better than boys in many places, but that the gender gap was larger in Malta.

“This may be for a number of reasons. International research shows that girls tend to like the conformity of traditional education. They can focus longer and spend more time doing their homework. They also read more, including outside the prescribed texts. Girls also adapt quicker to change and are generally more resilient to a system like ours, which is content-driven and based on the assimilation of knowledge. Boys tend to be more physical, so they struggle to sit still for as long,” Borg said.

However, despite girls performing better in Malta, the global situation for females is still not where it should be.

“There are still millions of girls with no access to the education system and millions of women still constituting the bulk of illiterates around the world,” he said.

He added that while Malta is technically a rich country economically, the education system does not match our financial wealth.

This was highlighted in the EU and OECD Social Justice Index 2019, which ranked Malta 23 out of 41 countries.

“We still have a big problem when it comes to the quality of our education here. While it might be free, it is not always good and there can be a lot of inconsistencies when it comes to socio-economic divide.

“Some schools may have good teachers, other schools might only have good quality educators in every other year.”

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