Updated: University Debate on Education
A debate on Education took place today at the KSU Common Room at the University of Malta. It started at 11:00h
Parliamentary Secretary Clyde Puli, PL Candidate Owen Bonnici and AD’s Mario Mallia participated in this debate which was being moderated by Daniel Camilleri.
PL’s Owen Bonnici said that there is the need for youths to be involved in politics, and this has been the case in the current political campaign. With regards to Education he said that “We want students to continue studying after compulsory schooling, where we want to give citizens the possibility to advance in their career. Everyone has the right to be part of educational system.”
Mario Mallia for AD said that “equality of opportunities does not always mean that you are giving quality of outcomes. AD will see that everyone is equal in the educational process and we will work to reach this target.”
Parliamentary Secretary Clyde Puli said that Education completes a person. He said that “we should not just focus on just university, but we need start with a good basis especially when it comes to child care.” He added that “ We have to start teaching children about the world which is continuously changing. The Nationalist Party has always given importance to education where we have built a new school each year, we have created an e-learning platform, and we want to give tablets to each student.”
Mario Mallia said that “The irony is that in this electoral campaign, the PN and PL are continuously giving present. The tablets issue was one of these, where he said that at a certain point this issue was not being explained in the right situation and it has become a gimmick.” He added that the parties can’t offer everything”
Clyde Puli stated that the idea of giving tablets to students was agreed up in 2008 with regards to smart learning. He said that “We have already given laptops to teachers, and now we want to give to students, teachers, and LSAs of private and church schools.”
PL’s Owen Bonnici said that nowadays everyone has tablets and laptops and therefore we need to strengthen the IT sector.” He added that it is important to focus on certain sectors because a country cannot be excellent in all sectors. With regards to Smart City he said that this was not created, and the only smart items were “the smart meters”.
With regards to University, Owen Bonnici said that research is fundamental. However he added that “there is more to be done so that university can achieve an identity of research which is fundamental to succeed.”
Clyde Puli said that “research is important but we cannot cut stipends to do so. On the contrary we want to strengthen them and the PN wants the stipends to increase pro rata depending on quality of life.
Mario Mallia said that “University can’t be just for a certain type of students. We have to address this issue as a country as the University is a place for imagination. We have to be careful as University so as not to lead it in a Utilitarian way.” He added that “We don’t want students to fit into the current work structure but we want them to focus on the future.”
Bologna Process and Students
Owen Bonnici spoke about the Bologna process where he said that “we have to have more students in post-secondary and tertiary to participate. “He added that in Malta we have courses which are restricted.”
Clyde Puli said that students at this level increased from 43% in 1999 to the present 83%. He added that this increase happened after the opening of MCAST in 2000, which “the PL government closed down.” Currently there are 700 day and evening courses at MCAST, where he stated that this happened because “we gave stipends.”
Mallia said that “everything depends of sustainable finances” where he said that the tax is said to decrease from 35% to 25% but “we have a hole which is getting bigger, and instead of being sustainable, we are going to spend. However, we are not saying where the money is coming from.”
Question for Owen Bonnici - Don’t you think that giving stipends to repeaters will mean that there’s no need to work hard?
We had to evaluate the situation and with the large number of students who drop out every year, the best option was to give stipends to those who repeat to keep them going and give them a second chance.
Question for Clyde Puli – With regards to the KMS, I dreamt of becoming a professional cyclist, but you put me aside. Why couldn’t I find a remedy, and had to pass through all this?
We have to recognize that Sport is autonomous. I cannot give orders and it is not the role of the state to give these orders.
Question for Mario Mallia - Are stipends economic benefits or social stimulants?
It is both since with stipends, students keep on working, their creativity is increasing and therefore I hope that they are beneficial.
Question for Owen Bonnici – The last week’s debate was like a Labour Mass Meeting. What do you have to say about it?
I don’t think this was the case. We want all students to be successful.
Question for Owen Bonnici – Does pluralism in secondary and tertiary sectors mean that you will create more universities?
I believe that if we are creative, we can attract students to Malta.
Concluding, Mario Mallia said that inclusion is extremely important in society, where we need to look at groups of people who are not being represented. Clyde Puli said that the "PN wants to give the opportunities to Maltese students to be successful." Owen Bonnici stated that "there needs to be a change in our country as currently the finances are not stable."