In 2003 the Education Division sought to sustain the implementation of the Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights programme of the Council of Europe through the appointment of an Education Officer for Democracy and Values Education within the Department of Student Services and International Relations (DSSIR)
In collaboration with the Department of Curriculum Management, it embarked immediately on an exercise aimed at selecting those elements stressing democratic citizenship that were already embedded in the curriculum.
Long before joining the EU (May 2004), Malta embraced democratic values in its Constitution. The exercise, carried out by the two departments, proved that these values were already reflected in the curriculum. A great number of secondary school subjects (European Studies, Religion, History, Social Studies and Personal and Social Education) promoted social and moral responsibility, community involvement and political literacy. An informative chart highlighting those modules in the syllabi dealing with democratic citizenship was distributed to all schools.
Democracy, however, is a way of life. It cannot be taught from books. The next challenge for the Department was to ensure that Maltese schools not only teach democratic values but incorporate them into their policies and practices. Schools were therefore encouraged to create a democratic culture, one in which the students themselves could become actively and socially involved in decisions that affected them. In-service training courses and seminars were held for heads and teachers. As a result, there was a sharp rise in Students’ Councils (from 27 to 51) in Maltese schools over a period of 2 years (2002 -2004).
For the near future, the department feels the need to focus on teacher training. Well-prepared educators, ready to apply different pedagogical approaches, must support all these efforts. Also, as part of the EU, our national curriculum needs to emphasise further the European as well as the global dimension.
It is for such purposes that the Learning Objects (LOs), prepared by the Myeurope group, can become a powerful and useful tool. In one way or another, these LOs contribute towards promoting Europe: its values, its history, its institutions and its citizens, their identity and cultures. These LOs offer many advantages, notably:
Working with LOs, students use their ICT skills rather than the usual pen and paper approach
They allow students to explore a topic freely (without much help from the teacher), to apply the knowledge learned and to evaluate their own progress
They give students immediate feedback
Students can work individually or in groups.
Most important of all, LOs place the student in the centre of the learning process. European students will not only have access to work prepared by local teachers, but to that designed by teachers all over Europe with their different experiences and perspectives.