- Early childhood care and education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
- Primary and secondary education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
- Tertiary education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
The Education Act Cap 605 of the Laws of Malta governs education from early childhood to compulsory, level (ages 3-16). The law has sections which apply to all education sectors, including the State and Non-State sector. However there are areas which govern only the State sector. According to the interpretation of the Act, “any person”, which includes a “body of persons and any moral entity established by law” has the right to apply to the Minister for the grant of a licence to establish a school. A “body of persons” is defined as a “partnership, fellowship, society or other association of persons vested with legal personality or not”. The Minister may specifically grant a licence to the “Catholic Church or any other voluntary society, religious or otherwise, of a non-profit-making character”. When defining a provider of higher education, the Act includes “any individual or body corporate providing further education or higher education services in or from Malta”. A provider may be a “university, college, company, foundation, charity, trust, institute, subsidiary, branch, an entity of any of these, or any other an individual or body corporate with similar scope”. The Further and Higher Education Act 2020 similarly defines a “provider” as “any individual or body corporate licensed by the Authority to provide education services in or from Malta”, distinguishing between “public” and “private” providers. Finally, according to the Agreement Between the Holy See and the Republic of Malta on Church Schools 1991, “Church Schools” are defined as “schools which, even though belonging to or directed by various canonical legal persons, are recognized as such in writing by the competent diocesan Bishop, and are subject to him according to Canon Law”.
In Malta, approximately 56% of students at primary (6 years, ages 5 – 10) and secondary level (5 years, ages 11 – 15) attend state schools. Upper secondary (general) level covers ages 16 – 18 and is mostly provided by the state, covering 77% of enrolments in the academic year 2019-20. According to the Education Act Act Cap 605 of the Laws of Malta, the state is obliged to provide 11 years of compulsory education from the ages of 5 – 15 (both years inclusive). Education in state institutions is free at all levels, from early childhood to tertiary education, for all Maltese students and students from the EU/EEA. The government is required to maintain a primary school in every town or village and provide free transport for students who reside in areas that are distant from the school. All state schools have a School Council comprised of parents, teachers and students (at the age of 16 or older) who work together on school improvement.
All state schools in Malta form part of a College Network, where each College is a body corporate with its own legal and distinct personality. The aim of the establishment of College Networks is to “improve the quality, standards, operation, initiatives and educational achievements in state schools”, with the Head of each College Network responsible for ensuring that students within the network’s schools receive their full educational entitlement. State schools within College Networks may establish partnerships with non-state schools or Colleges in Malta or in other countries for purposes of collaboration, sharing of resources, information, good practice and educational programs that are of reciprocal interest and benefit.
Non-state managed, state schools
No information was found.
Non-state funded, state schools
No information was found.
Independent, non-state schools
No information was found.
State-funded (government-aided), non-state schools
Non-state education in Malta is provided in church schools and independent schools, both of which are subsidized by the state in different ways. In the academic year 2019-20, 31% of students attended Church schools and approximately 13% attended independent schools. Most non-state schools (71%) are church schools. For academic year 2021-22, the figures are: 31% Church Schools, 13% Independent Schools, 56% State Schools.
Church schools are predominately owned and operated by the Roman Catholic Church and Catholic religious orders and are fully subsidized by the state based on an agreement between Malta and the Holy See in 1991, set in the Ecclesiastical Entities (Properties) Act and the Agreement Between the Holy See and the Republic of Malta on Church Schools. These schools (the majority of which are single-sex schools) do not charge tuition fees, but often request voluntary donations to help with school expenses. The state also allocates an additional 10% of funds for administrative expenses to these schools. Church schools provide Christian education based on the values of the Catholic Church, which includes the teaching of the Catholic Religion and Catholic Ethics. Most church schools (58%) operate at the compulsory level, with only 2 church schools (3%) at upper secondary level.
Independent schools are primarily owned and operated by non-profit organizations (mainly parents’ foundations) and charge tuition fees for attendance. However, the state grants a number of tax rebates to parents whose children attend independent schools. In contrast to church schools, most independent schools in Malta are co-educational. The education cycle in some independent schools is organized differently to state schools, where it is divided into three levels, Early School (ages 2 – 7), Middle School (ages 8 – 11) and Senior School (ages 11 – 16). There are also 3 international schools that cater to foreigners in Malta which follow a variety of international curricula. Most independent schools (57%) are at the kindergarten level, followed by the compulsory (37%) and upper secondary level (6%). There are no independent special schools, since all schools follow an inclusive education policy.
Both church schools and independent schools (including international schools) follow the National Curriculum Framework 2012, the National Minimum Conditions for All Schools Regulations 1991 (as amended in 1994), and the Education Act Cap 605 of the Laws of Malta. These schools are largely English-speaking, while state schools employ extensive bilingual teaching in Maltese and English. However, both Maltese and English are compulsory subjects in all non-state independent schools. As of September 2018, the provision of free transport by the state has also been extended to students attending church and independent schools.There are also international schools that do not follow the national curriculum.
Contracted, non-state schools
No information was found.
According to the Education Act Cap 605 of the Laws of Malta, ‘home education’ is legal and defined as “the progressive education of a minor provided or organised by his parent whereby a home educator provides tuition to the minor, at the expense of the parent, in substitution to state or non-state education”. Parents can apply to the Division of Education to provide home education to their child provided they follow the mainstream curriculum and minimum standards. Home Educators still need a warrant and students are entitled to receive the same experience other students receive in schools.
During the outbreak of COVID-19, distance learning methods were adopted to limit the spread of the virus, which included synchronous and asynchronous online classes provided for free to all students from kindergarten to Grade 11 in state schools. The Directorate for Digital Literacy and Transversal Skills provided online training for teachers and students to use the online platform, while the Ministry of Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation provided computers and/or internet connections to disadvantaged students during the school closures who were experiencing difficulty in accessing online learning platforms. Moreover, a repository of free online lessons was prepared that was especially aimed towards students who were not able to attend school during the pandemic.
Market contracted (Voucher schools)
No information was found.
No information was found.
The education system in Malta is centrally governed and regulated by the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation, which is responsible for all education (state and non-state) from early childhood to higher education level. The Education Act establishes the Division of Education which is composed of Departments each of which falls under the responsibility, guidance and administration of a Director General. Currently, there are currently three departments, namely that of Strategy and Support, Educational Services and Curriculum, Lifelong Learning and Employability. The Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (DQSE) is responsible for the licensing and quality standards in both state and non-state schools.
While church schools are regulated by the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation (based on the same conditions as independent schools), the Secretariat of Catholic Education (within the Archdiocese of Malta) acts as a crucial reference point for these schools, and an important link with the Ministry, as per the 1991 agreement with the Holy See. The Secretariat specifically regulates the admissions process of church schools and provides these schools with curriculum and psychosocial support from kindergarten to upper secondary level. Moreover, the Church Schools Association (CSA) works closely with the Secretariat of Catholic Education and the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation to safeguard and implement the 1991 agreement and promote the diversity of different church schools.
The Foundation for Educational Services is a public entity within the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation. It works concurrently with the Education Directorates to provide a range of innovative educational initiatives to meet the needs of the community. The FES is committed to ensuring that all service users are supported through informal educational initiatives. (). Higher education is governed and regulated by the Malta Further and Higher Education Authority (MFHEA) (launched in January 2021 replacing the National Commission for Further and Higher Education), which is responsible for the recognition, accreditation, and quality assurance of all higher education institutions (HEIs), state and private. The MFHEA is an independent, transparent, and international authority working to ensure the highest standards and to foster a competent community of empowered individuals, with the right skills to follow their dreams and make the future happen.
Due to the size of the country, the Maltese education system is largely centralized. However, a certain amount of decentralization was introduced in 2005 to the state education system, when the College system was established and all College Networks were managed by College Principals and College Heads. Non-state institutions remain governed and regulated at the central level.
Vision: In Malta, education is provided by the state, the Church (predominately Catholic), and independent schools, which represent a “strong tradition in Malta”. According to the National Youth Policy – Towards 2020, “key stakeholders such as Government, civil society, religious denominations and the public and private sectors should cooperate and coordinate their efforts to ensure greater impact in supporting the development of young people and in helping them to realise their full potential”. As stated in the Education Act 327/1988 (as amended in 2020), the government “respects the diversity of educational institutions, services and programs, and dialogue and collaborates with other colleges, schools, agencies and institutions, public and private, local and foreign, about policies, initiatives and projects in order to ensure that the whole system operates effectively within the country”. Similarly, in the 2019 amended version of the Education Act, “the state recognizes the right of non-state schools to have their own character, identity, ethos and autonomy”. The state also has a long-standing agreement with the Holy See regarding the provision of education in Church Schools in Malta, which equally “acknowledges the primary right of parents to choose the schools best suited for the education of their children”, recognizing the “public character of the service offered by Church Schools to Maltese society”. While this right is respected, the Act also gives the state the authority to establish a national curriculum framework for all schools (state, Church, and independent) and to require them to comply with national minimum conditions.
In Malta, early childhood care and education (ECCE) broadly covers ages 0 – 7 (including the first 2 years of primary education). Besides primary education, ECCE is mainly divided into two stages, childcare services (ages 0 – 2 years) and kindergarten (ages 3 – 5). ECCE is provided by both state and non-state (church and independent) actors. In 2018/19, most kindergartens were owned by the state (55.4%), which covered 68.8% of total enrolments. The rest of kindergarten services are provided by church (25.9%) and independent providers (18.8%). Out of non-state provision, most children are enrolled in independent kindergartens (19.6%), with 11.7% enrolled in church kindergartens.
Kindergartens usually form part of primary schools and are regulated similarly to this level. The Education Act is being reviewed to increasingly cover childcare service, which are currently subject to the Act, the National Standards for Early Childhool Education and Care Services (0-3) 2021, the Early Childhood Education and Care National Policy Framework for Malta and Gozo in 2021 and the Registration of Child Care Facilities as Educational Establishments Regulations 2008 (as amended in 2018).
Registration and approval: In the updated Education Act (Cap 605), all childcare centre facilities are required to have a valid licence to operate. Childcare centre providers who wish to obtain a licence are to abide by the Registration of Childcare Facilities as Educational Establishments Regulations (2008) and the Registration Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Services (0-3) The DQSE accepts applications if they are accompanied by all the required documentation and comply with the established standards in the National Standards for Child Day Care Facilities 2006 (similar for state and non-state providers). While these standards are not backed up by law, all providers are required to meet the minimum standards in physical environment, health and safety, and premises and equipment in order to be granted an official registration by the DQSE. The registration of the facility is also subject to an assessment by the Accreditation Unit to ensure compliance. For more information, see Multi-level regulations.
Licence: The Education Act stipulates that the State must make sure that there is the service and that childcares are licensed. Providers are initially granted a certificate of temporary registration by the DQSE, where operations are limited and all minimum requirements must be met within a period of 6 months. If these are met to the satisfaction of the DQSE, the provider is issued a more permanent form of registration known as provisional registration. For more information, see Multi-level regulations.
Profit-making: No regulation was found restricting profit-making in childcare centres. For more information, see Multi-level regulations.
Taxes and subsidies: All childcare facilities which have been licensed by the DQSE (irrespective of ownership) are eligible to apply for participation in the Free Childcare Scheme and parents to be eligible for a tax rebate (up to 2,000 EUR – 2,358 USD) in accordance with the Deduction (Childcare Fees) Regulations 2010. The Free Childcare Scheme was introduced in 2014 with the aim to provide equitable early childhood education to families irrespective of their financial means or social background, and to increase the active participation of females in the work environment. The scheme applies to children of the age of 3 months – 3 years whose parents are in employment, in education, or unemployed due to terminal illness. The entitlement of free childcare hours is based on the mother’s (or single father’s) employment hours, while government funding also includes staff costs and certain consumables. From 2014 until the end of 2021, the government invested more than 153 million EUR for the realization of the scheme. As of December 2021, 157 childcare centers were participating in the scheme, with the participation rate having increased from 18.2% in 2014 to 38.3% in 2019. For more information, see Multi-level regulations.
Curriculum and education standards: There is no standardized curriculum for early childhood education in Malta, with providers responsible for developing their own programs. However, all childcare facilities (irrespective of ownership) are subject to the the National Standards for Child Day Care Facilities 2006 and the Early Years Cycle competencies outlined in the National Curriculum Framework 2012. Non-state providers also follow similar scheduling and grouping arrangements to state services and required to follow specific child-carer rations (according to age). For more information, see Multi-level regulations.
Teaching profession: The qualifications and standards of all childcare workers (irrespective of provider) are regulated by the National Standards for Child Day Care Facilities 2006 and the Occupational Standards for Personnel working within Childcare Facilities 2012. All childcare workers are specifically required to have a qualification in childcare which meet the occupational standards, which is checked by the DQSE. Kindergarten teachers must similarly have obtained the minimum qualifications listed, which include a National Diploma in Children’s Care, Learning and Development. For more information, see Multi-level regulations.
Fee-setting: Childcare facilities that are part of the Free Childcare Scheme are prohibited from charging fees over and above what the state pays. These providers are only allowed to charge a “reasonable” one-off registration fee and fees for food services. According to the Deduction (Childcare Fees) Regulations 2010, a tax deduction on fees may also be claimed in registered childcare facilities. The Ministry of Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation must always approve the fees charged in childcare centers as stipulated in the Registration of Child Care Facilities as Educational Establishments Regulations 2008 (as amended in 2018), which, if receiving government funding, are always subject to a fixed fee rate. For more information, see Multi-level regulations.
Admission selection and processes: See Multi-level regulations.
Policies for vulnerable groups: The National Standards for Child Day Care Facilities 2006 include a section on “equal opportunities and children with special needs” which states that childcare facilities promote anti-discriminatory practices, remove barriers for these children’s participation in activities, respect and value each child as an individual, and use material that reflect anti-discriminatory and anti-stereotypical roles and racial, cultural and religious diversity. The National Policy on Inclusive Education also emphasizes the importance of inclusion at these early ages. The Child Development Assessment Unit works in close collaboration with the Inclusive Education Network to provide early intervention for children who are either born with a disability or that one was detected in the early months. For more information, see Multi-level regulations.
Reporting requirements: See Multi-level regulations.
Inspection: The DQSE is responsible for making annual inspection visits to registered childcare centres to determine whether the National Standards for Child Day Care Facilities 2006 are being met. These visits may be announced or unannounced and aim to ensure that the best interests of the child are being met. For more information, see Multi-level regulations.
Child assessment: While children are not formally assessed during the Early Years Cycle, assessment at the childcare level is usually based on check-lists, individual reports, and observation. The National Standards for Child Day Care Facilities 2006 also set important milestones for each age. For more information, see Multi-level regulations.
Registration and approval: See Multi-level regulations.
Licence: See Multi-level regulations.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH): According to the National Minimum Conditions for All Schools Regulations 1991 (as amended in 1994), all educational establishments from kindergarten to upper secondary level (irrespective of ownership) must have toilet facilities suited to the age and height of students. These facilities must be kept in good hygienic condition at all times. All schools are required to comply with existing sanitary regulations in regard to hygiene, which includes classroom, toilet, playground hygiene, and food hygiene. To evaluate whether these standards continue to be met, all schools are subject to inspections by Health Inspectors at any time.
Profit-making: See Multi-level regulations.
Taxes and subsidies: See Multi-level regulations.
Curriculum and education standards: See Multi-level regulations.
Textbooks and learning materials: In church and independent schools (which usually teach in English), textbooks are provided in English for certain subjects by the Ministry of Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation.
Teaching profession: See Multi-level regulations.
Other safety measures and COVID-19: The government has introduced the Managing Behaviour and addressing bullying behaviours in Schools Policy which is grounded in the Framework for the Education Strategy 2014-2024 (MEDE 2012) and A National Inclusion Policy: Route to Quality Inclusion (MEDE, 2019). The philosophy adopts a whole school approach philosophy and views positive behaviour management to be an opportunity for values-based learning as well as a means of maximising the success of academic education programmes. This will support the inclusion of all learners, including learners who present with Social, Emotional, Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD) based on the principles of respect, safety and responsibility. It also aims at addressing bullying behaviour in schools. During the school re-openings following the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, all schools were required to follow the Advice and Guidelines to the Educational Sector for the Re-opening of Primary and Secondary Schools in Malta 2020 issued by the Ministry for Health.
Fee-setting: See Multi-level regulations.
Admission selection and processes: See Multi-level regulations.
Policies for vulnerable groups: See Multi-level regulations.
School board: According to the Education Act Cap 605 of the Laws of Malta, all educational establishments from kindergarten to upper secondary level must have a School Council (comprised of teachers and parents) and a Students’ Council (for higher levels).
Reporting requirements: See Multi-level regulations.
School inspection: See Multi-level regulations.
Student assessment: See Multi-level regulations.
Diplomas and degrees: Successful candidates of the Matriculation Certificate Examination are awarded the Matriculation Certificate. According to the Agreement Between the Holy See and the Republic of Malta on Church Schools., the state recognizes the equivalence of qualifications obtained in church schools and state schools “without any discrimination”.
Sanctions: See Multi-level regulations.
Tertiary education is provided by the 6 state institutions, including the University of Malta, which is the main higher education provider on the island. Non-state provision is offered by 38 private institutions that mainly provide higher education courses through distance learning in collaboration with foreign universities. Non-state higher education provision (which accounted for 13.5% of enrolments in 2019) comes in the form of church institutions (owned and operated by the Roman Catholic Congregations/Orders) and independent/private institutions. Independent/private institutions have developed widely in the past years and offer a range of courses which extend university and higher education provision, including post-secondary, vocational training, and foreign language training.
Registration and approval: The licensing and accreditation of higher education providers is regulated by the Further and Higher Education Act Cap 607 of the Laws of Malta and the Further and Higher Education (Licensing, Accreditation and Quality Assurance) Regulations S.L. 607.03. Applicants must be individuals or body corporates, while all institutions (irrespective of ownership) must obtain accreditation (or formal approval) by the MFHEA according to the Malta Qualifications Framework 2012 (as amended in 2020). Providers can apply to the MFHEA for a licence to operate a university, higher education institution (HEI), further education institution, further education center, or tuition center. Universities, HEIs, and further education institutions must be established by a body corporate. To be considered for a licence, providers are required to meet all the minimum standards stipulated in the Act, regulations and guidelines published by the MFHEA.
Licence: The MFHEA is responsible for issuing providers a licence to operate in one or more of the institutional categories and offer higher education programs in the Malta Qualifications Framework 2012 if they meet the required standards. A provisional licence may be granted to providers with provisional accreditation. When issuing a licence, the MFHEA may impose conditions and restrictions. A licence may be refused if the provider fails to meet the minimum standards, is not of good conduct, has been convicted of an offence, or premises are used in a way that are hazardous to those within.
Profit-making: No regulation or restriction was found regarding profit-making in private higher education institutions in Malta.
Taxes and subsidies: While state higher education is heavily funded and provided tuition-free for Maltese and EU/EEA students in Malta, no regulation was found on the state funding of private institutions.
Curriculum and education standards: All higher education programs (irrespective of provider) must be accredited by the MFHEA in accordance with the Malta Qualifications Framework 2012 (as amended in 2020) and the Further and Higher Education (Licensing, Accreditation and Quality Assurance) Regulations 2012.
Teaching profession: According to the National Quality Assurance Framework for Further and Higher Education 2015, there are minimum requirements in the qualifications and competencies of teaching staff in self-accrediting HEIs (state or private universities), which do not require program and provider accreditation from the MFHEA. Depending on the institution, not all HEIs require a professional teacher training qualification (although obtaining one is considered an asset). All HEIs must have competent teaching staff, with clear, transparent and fair recruitment processes and employment conditions. Moreover, all institutions are required to ensure the continuous professional development of their staff.
Fee-setting: Private HEIs may charge students tuition fees for attendance if the student has been notified to be accepted in the program and a student agreement has been drawn up. When the provider has been registered based on the Further and Higher Education Act 2020 or regulations made under the Act, there may be restrictions in the charging of fees.
Admission selection and processes: According to the Further and Higher Education (Licensing, Accreditation and Quality Assurance) Regulations 2012, all higher education providers (irrespective of ownership) are required to ensure that their admissions process is conducted in an “ethical and responsible manner”, whereby places are offered based on whether the student’s proficiencies and qualifications are appropriate for the program. Before the student is admitted or makes any first payment to the HEI, the provider must draw up a written agreement referred to as the “student agreement” which stipulates the duties of the provider and student in a clear and understandable manner.
Board: While the specific management structures in private HEIs is not regulated by law, the internal management structure of each institution must comply with minimum standards and regulations and be fit for purpose according to the institution’s courses and students.
Reporting requirements: All higher education providers (state and private) have the primary responsibility for the quality of their provision. To be considered for accreditation, providers are specifically required to have an internal quality assurance system which is designed to ensure the appropriateness of the providers and their programs and achieve their aims and objectives. To achieve these goals, providers are required to undertake self-assessment and internal evaluation. According to the National Quality Assurance Framework for Further and Higher Education 2015, key stakeholders such as teachers and students should be consulted during the quality assurance processes.
Inspection: The MFHEA is responsible for the quality assurance of all HEIs (state and private) based on the National Quality Assurance Framework for Further and Higher Education 2015. According to the Further and Higher Education Act 2020, the MFHEA has the power to enter and search HEI premises, conduct on-site inspections, and require access to any relevant documents. External quality assurance also takes the form of provider and program quality audits which are carried out every 5 years by external experts. All forms of external quality assurance must be conducted based on the relevant European and international standards.
Assessment: The Registrar of Examinations is responsible for conduct of examinations of both state and private HEIs, as stipulated in the Education Act 327/1988 (as amended in 2020).
Diplomas and degrees: The MFHEA is responsible for recognizing the qualifications provided by different HEIs on the basis of the Malta Qualifications Framework 2012. If the qualification is a national qualification, it is classified according to the Framework and included in the register of national qualifications. If the qualification is foreign, it is classified at a comparable level of the Framework and included in the officially recognized foreign qualifications provided in Malta.
Sanctions: If a higher education provider (state or private) breaches any regulatory condition, is declared bankrupt, or severely violates the provisions of the Further and Higher Education (Licensing, Accreditation and Quality Assurance) Regulations 2012 or the Further and Higher Education Act, the MFHEA may revoke the provider’s licence to operate. Other sanctions (according to the severity of the offence) include administrative fines and administrative penalties, the latter of which are considered a civil debt.
This section covers regulations on educational establishments from early childhood to upper secondary level. Kindergartens are considered a type of school and are regulated similar to schools at primary and secondary level. Childcare facilities have been increasingly included in the Education Act under similar provisions to schools, particularly in the registration and monitoring regulations.
Registration and approval: According to the Education Act, “any person” can apply to the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation (DQSE) to provide education at an educational establishment from early childhood to upper secondary level. At the kindergarten and primary/secondary level, the applicant must be a “body of persons and any moral entity established by law”, which includes a partnership, fellowship, society or other association of persons vested with legal personality or not. Applicants can specifically either be the Catholic Church, or any other voluntary society (religious or otherwise) of a non-profit-making character. An application for the establishment of a church school must be made by legal persons who are recognized in writing by the Bishop in accordance with the Agreement Between the Holy See and the Republic of Malta on Church Schools. Applications by the Catholic Church must be additionally signed by the Bishops in Ordinary of these Islands or authorized in writing. All applications, which must be accompanied by the required documentation and information (including a copy of the statute if the applicant is a body corporate), are considered based on whether the proposed establishment is deemed to be in the public interest and the provider meets the National Minimum Conditions for All Schools Regulations 1991 (as amended in 1994) on school premises, health and safety standards, student numbers, and classroom space and size. These standards apply to all educational establishments from kindergarten to upper secondary level (including church and independent schools). An inspection is carried out by the Accreditation Unit to determine whether the minimum standards have been met.
Licence: If the educational establishment is deemed to be in the public interest and complies with the minimum standards and regulations, the DQSE grants the provider a temporary licence for 1 – 3 years which is subject to specific conditions. Once the conditions have been fulfilled, a full licence is granted.
Profit-making: According to the Education Act Cap 605 of the Laws of Malta, licensed are only granted to educational establishments from kindergarten to upper secondary level if the society or association is of a “non-profit making character”. Profit-making is also explicitly prohibited in church schools in accordance with the Agreement Between the Holy See and the Republic of Malta on Church Schools which stipulates that these schools have a “social function” which includes the “exclusion of (a) profit motive”.
Taxes and subsidies: In Malta, church schools from kindergarten to upper secondary level are subsidized by the state and the Catholic Church based on the Agreement Between the Holy See and the Republic of Malta on Church Schools which was signed in November 1991. In this agreement, the state committed itself to subsidizing these schools’ operational expenses in Malta and Gozo, including the cost of teaching and non-teaching staff salaries. Financial assistance is subject to the schools meeting certain conditions in the use of the funds and minimum educational standards. Church schools are additionally exempt from import-duty on goods destined to be used for their own activities and are subject to tariffs that apply to domestic and non-commercial use. Parents whose children attend independent schools are also granted a number of tax rebates. In 2012, the government launched a three-year EUR 3 million (USD 3.5 million) grant scheme to support independent schools in investing in technological equipment, infrastructure and teachers’ professional development. This is still in operation and the budget allocated is of €1m per year. Moreover, in 2012-17, the government introduced a scheme known as the ‘Assistance to Church and Independent Schools related to Capital Expenditure in the Implementation of the Reform regarding the Transition from Primary to Secondary School’ where schools benefitted from a 15.25% grant on all school expenditure that aimed to upgrade or enlarge their premises. Funding to all non-state schools is administered by the Directorate of Educational Services (DES). During the academic years 2020-21 and 2021-22, church and independent schools received an excess of 9 million EUR to assist in COVID-19 related expenditure. Funding to all non-state schools is administered by the Department for Educational Services (DES) in conjunction with the Department for Strategy and Support.
Curriculum and education standards: All state, church and independent educational establishments from early childhood to upper secondary level follow the National Curriculum Framework 2012, Learning Outcomes Framework, and (for kindergarten to upper secondary level) the National Minimum Conditions for All Schools Regulations 1991 (as amended in 1994). These frameworks must be adequately translated into appropriate curricula, programs, pedagogies and assessments based on each school’ identity, ethos and character reflected in each establishment’s development plan. The Learning Outcomes Framework aims to free schools from centrally imposed knowledge and skills-based outcomes, allowing them to develop their own educational programs based on knowledge and attitudes that are more suited to their specific students. According to the Education Act, the government recognizes the right of all non-state schools to have their own character, ethos, autonomy and identity. Church schools, for example, provide Christian education according to the ideals of the Catholic Church, with curriculum support from the Secretariat of Catholic Education. Finally, Maltese and English must be taught at all compulsory education levels as the two official languages of Malta, with bilingualism considered the basis of the Maltese education system.
Teaching profession: Teachers employed in state schools are considered public officers on an indefinite basis, while teachers in church and independent schools are appointed in accordance with general employment legislation. This however excludes supply teachers, as they are engaged primarily on a definite contract. Teachers in church and independent schools from kindergarten to upper secondary level must have the same qualifications as teachers in state schools and adhere to the Teachers (Code of Ethics and Practice) Regulations 2012, as stipulated in the National Minimum Conditions for All Schools Regulations 1991 (as amended in 1994). All teachers must additionally be registered and have obtained a warrant to teach under the Education Act Cap 605 of the Laws of Malta by making an application to the Council for the Teaching Profession, which assesses education and training standards and advises the Minister accordingly. The qualifications of non-Maltese teachers must satisfy the Recognition of Professional Qualifications Regulations 2008. Teachers in church schools are additionally guaranteed the same services as teachers in state schools in regard to in-service training courses and scholarships. Teachers in independent schools and church schools are not included in the Public Service Management Code, which only applies for teachers in state schools (and includes provisions on working hours, allowances, dismissal, and salaries).
Fee-setting: Church schools from kindergarten to upper secondary level are prohibited from charging tuition fees to Maltese students. However, schools are allowed to ask for annual voluntary donations, with contributions going towards school facilities such as libraries, sport facilities, and laboratories. While tuition costs are covered in church schools, parents need to pay for school resources such as textbooks and boarding fees. Independent schools may charge tuition fees and other school fees, which are regulated by the state. According to the Education Act, the Ministry of Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation may determine the maximum amount of fees to be charged to Maltese citizens in these schools, which may be different for different education levels and schools. Moreover, the Ministry may prohibit non-profit independent schools from charging any tuition fees to Maltese citizens if their costs are supplemented by government subsidy. Parents who have children attending independent schools are also eligible for tax rebates. No school may make any changes in fee rates without informing the Ministry at least one month in advance, as stipulated in the National Minimum Conditions for All Schools Regulations 1991 (as amended in 1994). Furthermore, third country nationals are exempted from international fees according to their residence status and level of protection iunder the Un convention, EU directives and Maltese law.
Admission selection and processes: All schools that cater to students of compulsory school age (including church and independent schools) are strictly subject to the School Attendance Policy 2014, the responsibilities emanating from the Education Act.
The criteria for admission in church schools may be established freely by the ecclesiastical authorities in ways that the service offered ensures educational principles and reserves places for less privileged students based on specific socio-economic needs. Admission in church schools is specifically determined and regulated by the Secretariat of Catholic Education. Due to the limited spaces available in these schools (with applications almost twice the amount of places available each year, including the 2020/2021 academic year), the admissions process (which is based on a lottery system) gives priority to children from church homes, children of employees in the same school, and siblings of children already attending the school according to the Regulations for Admission into Church Schools issued by the Secretariat for Catholic Education (for church schools from kindergarten to secondary level). Several places are also reserved for children considered “serious cases”, including social cases, children requiring Learning Support Educators, and asylum-seeking children (Regulations for Asylum Seekers). Once all the places have been filled, the remaining children are places on a waiting list. Parents who may be aggrieved during the process can file a complaint with the Archbishop’s Delegate for Church Schools, who acts as the Chairperson of the Admissions Supervisory Board. Families are not required to follow the school’s religion to be admitted, but students are expected to attend religion classes.
Policies for vulnerable groups: Students with individual educational needs based on early screening procedures, psychological and/or medical reports in each school) may be assigned by the Statementing Board a Learning Sujpport Assistant, which also applies to church and independent schools. The government must ensure that all educational establishments (irrespective of ownership) conform with the Policy on Inclusive Education in Schools: route to quality inclusion.. Education may also be provided based on similar to conditions to Maltese nationals to students from EU/EEA countries whose parents have permanent residency in Malta, children granted refugee status in Malta, children of persons who are asylum seekers, or displaced minors, in accordance with the Temporary Protection of Displaced Persons (Minimum Standards) Regulations 2005 and the Reception of Asylum Seekers (Minimum Standards) Regulations 2005. Students in church schools are also granted the same grants and stipends as students in state schools, in accordance with the Agreement Between the Holy See and the Republic of Malta on Church Schools. [CN1aM1]
Article 44 of Cap 605 enables the Minister to create special policies and programmes for students who will benefit from different programmes to ensure equitable education.
Reporting requirements: According to the National Minimum Conditions for All Schools Regulations 1991 (as amended in 1994), all educational establishments (irrespective of ownership) are required to submit any returns or information to the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation when requested on school changes, contracts, changes in ownership, and changes in teaching staff. All establishments are accountable to the DQSE for the implementation of the minimum standards and conditions.
Inspection: The Quality Assurance Department of the DQSE is responsible for the monitoring and evaluation of all schools in Malta from early childhood to upper secondary level (irrespective of ownership), as stipulated in the National Minimum Conditions for All Schools Regulations 1991 (as amended in 1994) and the Education Act 327/1988 (as amended in 2020). Formal inspections are carried out at least every 3 years by qualified officials of the department, with an inspection report (including recommendations) submitted to the Minister of Education and Employment. Schools are monitored on their physical environment, curriculum, pedagogy, syllabus, assessment, and administration. All educational institutions are required to provide the officials with the necessary information and access to implement these inspection functions. According to the Parameters of the External Review Process 2016, the aim of the regular external reviews is to identify schools’ strengths and areas of improvement in order to promote overall school improvement.
Assessment: At the end of primary education, students sit for the End of Primary Benchmark assessment in Mathematics, English and Maltese which measure students’ competencies. While church and independent schools are not required by law to take part in this assessment, they may opt for their students to sit for the Benchmark (with 82% of the Grade 6 cohort having sat for this assessment in 2019). At the end of upper secondary education, students in independent and church schools may sit for the Matriculation Certificate Examinations which are based on the International Baccalaureate model . The Matriculation Certificate Examinations are under the control of the Matriculation and Secondary Education Certificate Examinations Board (MATSEC Board) according to the Statute for the Matriculation and Secondary Education Certificate Examinations 2014 and the Matriculation Examination Regulations 2013.
Sanctions: If any educational establishment fails to conform with the national minimum standards and regulations or is in breach of any applicable legislation (applicable to all schools), the DQSE may suspend or withdraw the establishment’s licence to operate. If any provider is found to be operating an establishment without a valid licence, they shall be guilty upon conviction to a fine not exceeding EUR 100 (USD 117) for each day the offence continues. The court may also authorize the DQSE to take possession of the unlicensed premises for such time that may prevent the provider from committing any further offences.
In Malta, private supplementary tutoring (commonly referred to as ‘private lessons’) is strongly evident, and has “become the norm rather than the exception”. According to a 10% sample of Grade 5 students in 2008, 51.9% were found to be receiving private tutoring at the time of the study, while 77.9% reported to have received some form of tutoring in their school lives. There are three main forms of private tuition service providers on the island, (a) individuals who provide tutoring services without a teaching qualification or licence, (b) private tuition centres that specialize in this sector, and (c) the government providing evening classes to persons over the age of 15 through the Directorate of Lifelong Learning free-of-charge. Besides the government, several non-state providers (such as the Catholic Church, the state-funded Foundation for Educational Services, and the Labour Party) also offer fee-free private tuition lessons to students from disadvantaged groups.
Private tuition centres are regulated and licensed by the MFHEA as one of the categories of “further and higher education providers” in the Further and Higher Education (Licensing, Accreditation and Quality Assurance) Regulations 2012.
Private tuition centers are registered and licensed as “tuition centers” by the MFHEA according to the Further and Higher Education (Licensing, Accreditation and Quality Assurance) Regulations 2012. Providers may be individuals or body corporates and are not required to seek program accreditation in parallel to provider accreditation (which applies to other further and higher education providers). These institutions can be registered as non-self-awarding providers, providing programs that lead to qualifications awarded by a third party.
By being licensed as “tuition centers” under the MFHEA, providers are only allowed to offer courses that are not part of compulsory schooling. Instead, providers may only offer courses or programs that are listed in their licence. Tuition centers are also required to have an internal quality assurance system in place.
Private lessons provided by teachers are regulated in the Teachers (Code of Ethics and Practice) Regulations 2012 (which is applicable to both state and private school teachers). According to these regulations, members of the teaching profession shall “refrain from taking advantage of professional relationships with students for their own personal benefit, including by giving private lessons to students from the classes they teach or who are under their administrative responsibility, against payment, whether monetary or in kind”. Teachers are therefore prohibited from providing private lessons to their own students for payment. According to the Education Act 327, the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation may also regulate the fees charged by teachers for their professional services. Private lessons given by teachers in an independent capacity in subjects normally taught in schools or universities are considered exempt educational services from the VAT Act. This means that these teachers are charged VAT and pay income tax on their received earnings, in contrast to other educational services which are exempt.
This profile has reviewed by the Ministry of Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation (Malta).