The term information and communications technology (ICT) is used in many strategy documents, with no specific definition provided. The 2020-30 National Strategy for Lifelong Learning additionally uses the term Educational Technologies, with no specific definition.
Constitution and laws: There is no ICT Act. The fundamental aspects of universal service regulation are outlined in the Universal Service Directive, the 1997 Electronic Communications (Regulation) Act (as amended in 2021), and the 2021 Electronic Communications Networks and Services (General) Regulations.
The 1964 Constitution of Malta stipulates that the State shall promote the development of culture and scientific and technical research (Article 8). According to the reformed 2019 Education Act, it is the duty of the State to promote the teaching of technology (Article 4). The Division of Education is specifically responsible for promoting, supporting, coordinating and ensuring lifelong learning services and initiatives, including e-learning and distance learning (Article 12). The 1988 Education Act (as amended in 2022) regulates the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology that shall train its students in ‘information technology and science’ and provide distance learning (Article 89).
Policies, plans and strategies: Malta has several strategies supporting the digitalisation of the education system, while a National Strategy for Digital Education and Transversal Skills targeting students, teachers, parents/guardians and citizens is currently being drawn by the Ministry of Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation (MESYRI) to replace the 2012-30 National Strategy for Digital Education.
The MESYRI has launched an Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Education pilot project as proposed in the 2019 Strategy and Vision for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Malta. The strategy, which aspires for Malta to become the “Ultimate AI Launchpad”, aims to foster and embrace the adoption of AI in education through the development of an AI-powered adaptive learning system and the construction of a rich data set which uses AI analytics for state schools to assist in driving insights and actions to enhance the education system. Through its AI strategy, the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) is also developing internal data management, provision, and dissemination structures. This will allow the College to utilise data-driven insights to enhance its educational offerings and continuously enhance the student learning experience. Additionally, MCAST recognises the significance of collaboration with industry partners and is actively pursuing placements for its ICT students. The College seeks to bridge the gap between academic knowledge and practical application by nurturing these partnerships.
MCAST has also established an EdTech framework to assure a distinct direction and consistent methodology. This framework directs current and prospective EdTech initiatives, allowing for a coordinated and adaptable approach to educational technology. Combining virtual learning environments (VLEs) with physical interventions and augmented reality, MCAST seeks to progressively implement innovative learning methodologies across all its programmes. This approach emphasises the development of skills and competencies essential for vocational students, going beyond the transmission of knowledge.
The 2022-25 National eSkills Strategy, which builds further upon the 2019-21 National eSkills Strategy, has a vision to reshape Maltese society and economy through digital skills and competencies. The strategy includes many education-specific objectives for the development of digital skills and competencies from primary to post-tertiary levels, targeting students, teachers and parents.
The 2014-20 National Digital Strategy puts forward a suite of guiding principles and actions for ICT to be used for socio-economic development, with a goal to embed digital technologies in all school, college, university, and non-formal learning settings.
The 2020-30 National Strategy for Lifelong Learning supports the improvement of digital education as part of its third strategic measure, while the 2023-27 National Research and Innovation Strategic Plan supports continued investment in online learning.
The 2014-24 Framework for the Education Strategy for Malta aims to improve science and technology competence and increase student achievement.
One of the key technologies to revolutionise tomorrow’s learning is set in 2022-2030 Malta’s National Strategic Action Plan for Further and Higher Education and focuses on blockchain with applications in certification, recognition of degrees and tracking of academic content and work.
Digital competency frameworks: The 2022-25 National eSkills Strategy aims to establish standard digital competence frameworks to be applied to educators, learners, and schools in accordance with the EU DigComp and DigCompEdu standard. The 2021-30 National Literacy Strategy for All includes digital literacy as part of its core competences, while the 2009 National Policy and Strategy for the Attainment of Core Competences in Primary Education provides a summary of eLiteracy attainment targets for students.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The digitalisation of the education system was further enhanced following the COVID-19 pandemic, which is reflected in various strategies. Malta’s 2021 National Post-Pandemic Strategy outlines an ambitious plan to help the nation build back better in the wake of COVID-19. As part of its objectives, it aims to develop targeted interventions to counteract educational disruption caused by COVID-19, integrate education, employment and skills policies and refocus education to give precedence to skills development (with a strong STEM and digital underpinning). According to the 2021-30 National Literacy Strategy for All, COVID-19 highlighted the importance of digital literacy and digital technologies, and how these can supplement and support teaching and learning. The strategy aims to review the best practices in online teaching that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic and reinforce them. Other strategies, including the 2022-25 National eSkills Strategy and 2020-30 National Strategy for Lifelong Learning, similarly highlight the enhancement of digital education.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The 2011 Electricity Market Regulations stipulate that universal service includes the supply of electricity of a specified quality at reasonable, easily and clearly comparable, transparent and non-discriminatory prices, with responsibilities for “universal and public service electricity supply” (Article 20). There is no specific reference to schools.
Computers and devices: Several government strategies support the provision of digital devices in schools. The 2022-25 National eSkills Strategy aims to pursue investments in digital infrastructure within educational institutions, which include digital devices, VR/AR headsets, robots, tablets, and PCs. Similarly, the 2014-20 National Digital Strategy supports the provision of portable devices for children, their teachers and Learning Support Assistants as part of the government’s vision of transforming formal education through the use of digital technologies.
The Directorate for Digital Literacy and Transversal Skills has additionally been operating a One Tablet Per Child project since 2014, which it aimed to continue in the 2022/23 academic year. The project has allowed Malta’s Ministry for Education to provide every Year 4, 5 and 6 student with a tablet computer, in addition to giving schools classroom management software, educational programmes and applications, and providing staff with training on the new technology. The Minister has additionally invested in Virtual Reality Storage Case & Head sets for schools.
The One Tablet Per Child project was a critical tool for students and teachers to continue learning and teaching during the COVID 19 school closure. During the pandemic, the Ministry also provided computers and/or free internet connections to disadvantaged students whose family income is equivalent to or less than the minimum wage, relies solely on social benefits, or to students with more than one child whose annual income is below €15,000.
To improve teaching and learning, the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology is modernising its IT infrastructure and investing in a better internet connection system. This will guarantee that students have access to the most recent technological tools and resources. In addition, the College seeks to provide students with a more engaging learning environment so that they can realise their maximum skill potential.
Internet connectivity: The Malta Communications Authority is required by national legislation to ensure that an adequate broadband internet access service (including the underlying connection) at a fixed location are made available to all consumers in the Maltese islands, independently of geographic location, and at affordable prices. The 2021 Broadband as a Universal Service - Ensuring the Availability of Broadband Internet Access Service decision aims to ensure the universal availability of an adequate broadband internet access. The 2014-20 National Digital Strategy similarly supports free access to wireless internet in all public buildings in accordance with internet accessibility standards.
Several strategies specifically support the enhancement of internet connectivity in schools. The 2022-25 National eSkills Strategy supports investment in digital networks within educational institutions, while the 2020-30 National Strategy for Lifelong Learning supports improving access to the internet for teaching and learning purposes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, free internet service was provided to vulnerable students in line with the Inclusive Education in Schools: Route to Quality Inclusion policy.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
Distance education and eLearning is supported by the 2019 Education Act (Article 12), 2014-20 National Digital Strategy, and 2020-30 National Strategy for Lifelong Learning, the latter of which promotes blended and online courses for different learners and the introduction of a virtual learning environment to complement in-class instruction. The 2023-27 National Research and Innovation Strategic Plan similarly supports continued investment in online learning.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, 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.
The 2021 Guidelines for the Education Sector up to Secondary Schools and Guidelines for Online Teaching were developed, providing a practical reference to guide and support educators in lesson planning and the delivery of online learning. The website Teleskola was additionally launched to provide a digital learning platform, including learning resources, online recorded lessons and other tools, supporting parents, guardians, students and educators. Whilst this was a response to the COVID-19 closures of schools in Malta, the government aims to keep operating teleskola.mt in the future as a central front-facing resource, lesson and activity information hub for all curricular matters.
The development of digital literacy and skills is supported in numerous strategy documents. The 2022-25 National eSkills Strategy aims to address students’ core entitlement to digital literacy in a coordinated manner starting from early years and primary up to the advanced years at secondary level through a review of educational curricula. The strategy specifically supports the development of digital literacy from a cross-curricular theme to a core subject which is measured by assessment (e.g. integrated digital content in all curricula, formal and informal and formal assessment tools). In addition, the strategy supports the empowerment of parents/guardians to enhance their digital competencies and be able to support student’s digital competencies, learning and aspirations. The 2021-30 National Literacy Strategy for All includes digital literacy as part of its core competences in education, while the 2012 National Curriculum Framework for All includes science and technology as part of the key learning areas at primary and secondary level, with digital literacy as a cross curricular theme. eLiteracy is also included as part of the core competencies in the 2009 National Policy and Strategy for the Attainment of Core Competences in Primary Education, with a summary of eLiteracy attainment targets for the end of Year 3. These include the ability to communicate using appropriate technologies, identify digital resources and show awareness of their basic functions, and navigate child-friendly websites. Similarly, the 2020-30 National Strategy for Lifelong Learning includes digital and technology-based competence as part of the key competences for lifelong learning, with aims to improve ICT curricula to represent representing the 21st century skills and adapting to the emergent technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Computer Science, Instructional Design and Educational Technologies. Additional digital literacy objectives are set in the 2014-20 National Digital Strategy, which similarly supports enhancing students’ digital literacy (outlining a basic level of ICT competence, with focus on vulnerable groups), integrating digital citizenship as part of the national curriculum, and minimising the gender imbalance in the technology field. The development of AI skills and competencies is equally supported by the 2019 Strategy and Vision for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Malta, while the 2023-26 National Cybersecurity Strategy promotes cybersecurity education.
STEM education is equally supported in many strategy documents, with the 2022-25 National eSkills Strategy aiming to increase STEM students and converge the gender gap in STEM subjects and roles. The development of STEM education (with a gender dimension) is also part of the objectives of the 2014-20 National Digital Strategy and 2023-27 National Research and Innovation Strategic Plan, while the 2018 Guidelines to Increase and Retain Women in ICT aim to address gender imbalances in the field.
The 2022-25 National eSkills Strategy aims to equip educators with digital competencies through formal teacher upskilling, further cross-curricula training, and voluntary teacher assessments in line with the EU Digcomp standard. Similarly, the 2020-30 National Strategy for Lifelong Learning supports the development of educator-training programmes to include short-term and modular programmes focusing on digital education and competences to upskill/reskill educators. The 2019 Strategy and Vision for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Malta further supports the development of teachers’ knowledge and awareness of AI in education, while the 2023-26 National Cybersecurity Strategy supports the continuous teacher training on cybersecurity and digital skills. Some of the main objectives of the Directorate for Digital Literacy & Transversal Skills for the 2022/23 academic year include the focus on teachers’ digital competencies (with special focus on the successful delivery of Digital Literacy learning outcomes by educators and digital competences of leaders), professional development training, and the continuation of Digital Literacy Educators’ Programmes.
The University of Malta's Faculty of Education provides the Master degree program in Teaching and Learning, designed to furnish prospective educators with the essential knowledge and proficiencies required for teaching in a contemporary classroom of the 21st century. The aptitude to teach in a technologically augmented manner is ingrained throughout the curriculum, spanning diverse subjects within the degree program. Moreover, the faculty extends a range of continuing professional development (CPD) prospects to practising teachers, allowing them to engage in research endeavours and advance their expertise in domains encompassing computational thinking, e-learning, and technology-enhanced learning.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 2018 Data Protection Act implements and further specifies the relevant provisions of the EU General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (GDPR) regulating the processing of personal data. Specific education provisions are included in the 2015 Processing of Personal Data (Education Sector) Regulations (as amended in 2021). The MEYR is required to fully comply with the data protection principles set out in data protection legislation, in accordance with the Data Protection Policy for MEYR’s Departments and Directorates.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
Schools have a duty to provide a safe and accepting environment for all, with zero tolerance to bullying (including cyberbullying), in accordance with the 2014 Addressing Bullying Behaviour in Schools Policy. Cyberbullying is defined as “harassment through the use of technology and/or online media”.
The 2014-20 National Digital Strategy additionally aims to empower youth through a “safer internet”, equipping children and youth with the abilities to interact and use the Internet safely and intelligently through digital citizenship curricula and competent authorities which help combat child cyber abuse and exploitation.
In October 2023, the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology ’ Institute of ICT is launching new Degrees in Cyber Security and Digital Games Development. Moreover, Malta’s Information Technology Authority (MITA) is the National Cybersecurity Coordination Centre (NCCC), in which MCAST is a member of.
The Ministry of Education, Sport, Youth Research and Innovation is responsible for ICT integration in the education system. The Directorate for Digital Literacy and Transversal Skills supports teachers, students and parents in the acquisition of digital literacy competencies and assists in the transformation of teaching and learning through the use of technology in the real and virtual classroom in consultation with the School Leadership Teams. The main objectives of the Directorate include: enabling digital literacies in teaching and learning to equip students with 21st century digital competencies, using technologies to transform teaching and learning, enabling students to benefit from the multi-modality of digital devices, and enabling educators to become more confident in technology-enabled teaching and learning.
The eSkills Malta Foundation is a National Coalition made up of various representatives from Government, industry and education, who works on increasing digital skills and the development of the IT profession. Its mandates include advising the government on eSkills policies, contributing to the expansion and reform of ICT education programs, and assisting in the capacity building of the education community (including students and teachers). The eSkills Malta Foundation was established by the Maltese Government multi-sectoral partnerships in the development of digital skills. Founding members include the Ministry for Education and Employment, the Malta Information Technology Agency, the Malta Communications Authority, the Malta Enterprise, the Malta Gaming Authority and the Malta Chamber of Commerce Enterprise and Industry.
The Malta Council for Science and Technology is a public body with the mandate of advising government on science and technology policy, while the Malta Information Technology Agency advises the government on the development of ICT strategies and policies. The Malta Communications Authority regulates electronic communications services (and universal service).
The Applied Research & Innovation Centre at the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology plays a crucial role in spear heading innovative tools and propelling technological progress. The centre offers a specialised Master's degree programme in Artificial Intelligence. This programme prepares students for emerging disciplines and technologies associated with Industry 4.0, including the Internet of Things (IoT), Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), and Artificial Intelligence.
There is no blanket ban on mobile device use in classrooms, with schools responsible for regulating student use.
This profile has been reviewed by the Director General at the Education Strategy and Quality Assurance Department of the Malta Ministry of Education, Youth and Research.