On Wednesday 17th August, Junior College announced its decision to offer students the option to pursue post-secondary education over a period of four years. Previously, this option was available for students with learning disabilities, however, this has now been extended to all students.
The reason behind this extension is due to an increasing number of students who have no other option but to work in order to support their families. KSU welcomes Junior College’s decision to be more inclusive by ensuring that no student is left behind in pursuing higher education. It is through decisions like these that education remains as accessible as possible, whilst adapting to today’s socio-economic realities.
However, KSU expresses grave concern about the premise of having to resort to such a solution. Students as young as sixteen years old, find themselves to be the breadwinners of the family. According to the National Action Plan for a Child Guarantee 2022-2030, in 2020, 22.6% of Maltese children and youths under 18 found themselves at risk of poverty and/or social exclusion. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, this has led to an increase in social cases, resulting in more 16-18 year-olds needing to work full-time, restricting their ability to juggle a full-time two-year course.
KSU finds the number of students as young as 16 who do not afford to be in education immensely concerning. Such economic realities are a clear sign of a rapidly increasing social gap and poor wealth distribution. KSU encourages the Ministry of Education as well as the Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights, and Social Solidarity to collaborate closely with Junior College and vulnerable families to provide the utmost support to all students who must juggle employment and their studies to keep their families afloat. KSU fully supports the Stipend Reform currently being worked on and spearheaded by the Chair of the Student Maintenance Grants Board and extends its support to all those involved.
KSU encourages the promotion of such ‘Flexi Programmes’ to as many students as possible to ensure that students who require them are aware of its availability. On top of this, KSU extends its support to Junior College to help these students as much as possible be it on a case-by-case basis as well as on a national front through KSU’s policy campaigns on Education Reform and Poverty in Malta.
Julia Balzan, Sarah Xuereb, Nicola Kirkpatrick, Matteo Farrugia, Rachel Dalli, Julianne Vella, Elisa Micallef Peplow, Michela Galea, Neil Zahra, Karl Andrew Schembri, Emma Degabriele, Alexandra Gaglione