Education Minister Clifton Grima has defended the Gozo ministry’s decision to fund exhibitions about hunting in state schools, saying that students need to be shown the “world in its entirety”.
Heads of schools in both Malta and Gozo were informed of the exhibitions through a circular sent out by the director general of the department of education services on Wednesday.
Our education system needs to show our children the world in its entirety- Clifton Grima
The exhibitions are being organised by Kaċċaturi San Ubertu, a local hunting lobby group.
The news that students will be taught about the controversial practice sparked outrage from BirdLife, an environmental NGO that works to conserve birds and their habitat. It said it was “disgusted and alarmed” that the education department had signed off on “the promotion of killing birds in schools”.
“It is incredible that, in 2023, the education authorities want to promote the use of a firearm for the killing of birds among schoolchildren. It is shameful that this is being done with the blessing of the education ministry and financed by the Gozo ministry, which is responsible for hunting,” it said.
'Nothing wrong with exposing reality'
However, Grima has come out in defence of the announcement as he believes that “those exposing and teaching children about the diverse aspects of what is a reality out there are doing nothing wrong”.
Grima said that he had taken note of an email he received from BirdLife but the reality was that these exhibitions were being organised with all the necessary legal permissions.
He clarified he was not saying that teaching impressionable minds about hunting was a necessary form of education but emphasised how important it was that “our education system needs to show our children the world in its entirety”.
“That’s why if someone is showing subjects that are legal, subjects that are also part of the country’s cultural history, I don’t think anything wrong is happening,” he said.
The president of Kaċċaturi San Ubertu, Mark Mifsud Bonnici, said the exhibitions were exclusively about legal hunting and the group had obtained funds by applying through an open call for projects.
He said BirdLife has its own platform in schools in which they “indoctrinate” children against hunting and equated the hunting of birds to fishing for food.
“What really is alarming is that this biased anti-hunting indoctrination has been in existence since 1994,” he said.
“Clearly, Birdlife Malta have [sic] no intention of shedding their extremism which, unfortunately, spreads unperturbed through our educational system with the blessings of the authorities concerned.”