As CHOGM and all associated activities came to an end last year and all participants left our shores, the Malta Society for Educational Administration and Management (MSEAM) remains.

Many people have been sceptical about the impact that such a gathering may leave on the Maltese Islands themselves - as individuals, as members of varied organisations, as a nation. However, that week went a long way to show that much has been learnt, much has been gained, and that we can give so much. We have learnt that if we really want to, if we are truly genuine and willing to serve, rather than be guided by ulterior motives, Maltese can rally together and collaboratively undertake the organisation of such a massive event.

When we want to we can overcome the petty pique that permeates our society. The experiences, varied in nature and coming from different domains and cultures has helped us gain a lot in understanding, in becoming possibly more sensitive to issues such as poverty, sustainability and development. However, one of the main gains, mainly in our opinion, as a result of the processes of engagement throughout this week and the months before that, is that we can all make a difference, albeit in different ways. As Dr Rudo Chitiga, deputy director of the Commonwealth Foundation stated, the activities that took place during CHOGM week should provide all Maltese an ideal platform "to find out what opportunities and skills you have to help make... initiatives succeed."

This point was further reinforced in the Commentary of the campusino section (The Sunday Times, November 27) which highlighted the important role that we, as a University, can play both within Europe and the Commonwealth, especially within the Commonwealth developing countries. It is within this context that the Malta Society for Educational Administration and Management can play a central role.

The society which is part of the Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration and Management is housed within the Faculty of Education at the University of Malta. Established in 1999 we seek to provide Maltese educators across all levels with opportunities to network locally and with other Commonwealth countries. The main aims of the society are:

To advance the practice and encourage the research of educational administration, management and leadership in the Maltese islands;

¤ To provide a forum for discussion in the field of educational administration and management and leadership;

¤ To facilitate the dissemination of knowledge about research, training and good practice in educational administration management and leadership;

¤ To link theory and practice in educational administration and management by encouraging fruitful collaboration between those engaged in teaching and research and practising administrators;

¤ To establish and maintain close contact and affiliate with other bodies concerned with education in Malta;

¤ To establish and maintain contact with other worldwide associations concerned with education;

¤ To foster high standards in the study, practice and preparation of educational administration and management.

Over the years we have conducted talks, seminars and workshops involving local and foreign educators, including three presidents of the Commonwealth Council - Professor Angela Thody, Dr Jo Howse and the current president Professor Petros Pashiardis - Professor John Raffan from Cambridge University, Dr Janet Harvey from the University of Gloucestershire and others from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Topics discussed include school development, managing stress, distributed leadership, spirituality for educators and children, and education and the law.

The MSEAM is currently spearheading a national project on the identification of school improvement initiatives in Maltese and Gozitan schools. This has the support of the National Curriculum Council, the Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration and Management, and the Youth Programme of the European Union and the University Student Teachers Association. We also intend to actively participate during the forthcoming CCEAM Conference that will take place this year. There will soon be an announcement to all MSEAM members about this conference and how we can all form part of this exciting network.

While much work needs to be done within the local context to create a proper platform for discussion and the professional development of educational leaders we are now being approached to extend our arm to other countries both within the context of Small Island States and the Mediterranean. In fact, the MSEAM has been instrumental in linking a number of Italian universities with the CCEAM so that we can establish a relationship which would be of mutual benefit.

In order to keep the light of the Commonwealth burning, alive and meaningful within our hearts and nurture our schools into communities of learning we need the help of all educators. Don't hold back. Become an active member within the MSEAM and make a difference both locally and abroad. Educators at all levels (e.g. teachers, school leaders, education officials, university lecturers and administrators) are eligible to join.

For further information send an e-mail to Christopher Bezzina at christopher.bezzina@um.edu.mt

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