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NEWS | Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Cristina still sitting on Junior Lyceum exam report

James Debono

New education minister Dolores Cristina is still sitting on a report proposing an overhaul of the 11+ examinations, the entry examination to the Junior Lyceum.
But discussions on the impending reform are still set to start shortly, a spokesperson for the Education Minister told MaltaToday.
The report was commissioned by her predecessor, minister Louis Galea in July 2007. Commenting on the report last year, Galea left his options open: “We have to see whether this exam is still valid and what alternatives should be considered to replace it,” he said when questioned in parliament.
Although finalised, the report has yet not been published. “The report was initially presented to Dr Louis Galea and recently a copy has been presented to the current Minister for her attention the Hon. Dolores Cristina,” a spokesperson for Cristina told MaltaToday.
The working group chaired by Dr Grace Grima was composed of two members of the Educational Assessment Unit, two members from MATSEC Examinations Board and two members from the Private Schools Association.
The junior lyceum exam is used to determine whether students continue their studies in junior lyceums or in area secondary schools. The common entrance examination determines entry within secondary church schools.
The first draft of the national curriculum, authored by educational experts Carmel Borg and Kenneth Wain, had proposed doing away with this exam to introduce comprehensive schools on the continental model. But this controversial reform was not included in the final text of the curriculum.
But with the introduction of educational colleges the distinction between area secondary schools and junior lyceums is being slowly eroded.
Students attending colleges like St Benedict are only streamed during certain lessons while they congregate together in other school activities and lessons.
Before the election, Opposition leader Alfred Sant tried to shift attention from the controversy generated by the party’s reception proposal by alleging that the government wanted to eliminate Junior Lyceums. But the government seems to be treading carefully before committing itself on this issue.
The same spokesperson told MaltaToday that professional discussions regarding the contents and recommendations are scheduled in the very near future. The review included both systems of 11+ examinations, namely the Junior Lyceum examination and the Common Entrance examination, which are based on the same five syllabi. “The current practices are reviewed and a way forward is recommended on a national basis.”
Discussions are also under way to introduce a parallel system of educational colleges in church schools, a spokesperson for the Maltese Curia told MaltaToday. Continuity from primary to secondary already exists in a good number of Church schools.
According to a spokesperson for the Curia, plans for a smooth transition from primary to secondary schools are being studied in depth by the Church Secretariat for Education and the Private Schools Association.

jdebono@mediatoday.com.mt



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