Footage showing students setting fire to bins and trashing classrooms has recently been circulated over social media.
The video, an Instagram story, shows St Ignatius College secondary students rampaging through their school campus, running across the roof and jumping railings all in the name of an internet trend.
The clips show the students running through empty corridors and taking photos with masks and wigs on as well as damaging school property as they toss tables and chairs across a classroom.
One clip shows the students setting fire to a bin while another shows one student shaving the back of another’s head in what seems to be a school cubicle.
Speaking to Times of Malta, Education Minister Clifton Grima said that while the students were suspended as part of their formal discipline, they will also be aiding the school with future videos.
“OK, they made a mistake, but we thought outside of the box,” Grima said, adding that the authorities are trying to make something positive out of such a negative experience.
“It’s a bit like community service,” he said, using discipline to give back rather than push down.
Having only seen the footage a few days ago, Grima said that he wants to look at it like a parent.
“If I was the father of one of these kids, I know that there must be a punishment,” he said, adding that as a parent, he would also like to see something productive flourish from the incident.
‘MUT has zero tolerence’
Malta Union of Teachers president Marco Bonnici said it is concerning to see such footage and emphasised the union’s lack of tolerance for such cases.
“It is worrying to see such scenes which are clearly in breach of the school's discipline policy,” Bonnici said.
“The MUT has zero tolerance towards misbehaviour and this principle is also shared by the respective school and educational authorities,” he said.
While Grima did share the view that the video is certainly shocking, he clarified that there is more to education than punishing mistakes.
“We want to show them that they did something that is not good and that there are consequences for their actions,” the minister said about the suspension.
“But secondly, school is not there to punish but to educate, so if you have talent, use it for something exemplary.”