The problem of prejudice against different ethnic groups does not come from the child’s side, but it is the prejudice and mind-set that their parents would pass on to them, said Education Minister Evarist Bartolo.
This newsroom asked Bartolo what was the Ministry’s opinion of the Commissioner for Education, Charles Caruana Carabez’s concerns regarding the rise of group-bulling in schools by ethnic students. The newsroom spent a week of chasing and asking replies from the Ministry regarding this issue, and Bartolo said that the Ministry has already replied to the Commissioner through the official channels. “On a personal note, bullying is a challenge beyond ethnic groups, and is something we face not just at school, but at the workplace and other sectors.”
The Commissioner for Education expressed concern at the rise of group-bullying in schools by ethnic students, and that particular reason for such forms of bullying is that students do not speak English or Maltese and the fact that some come from war torn countries. He also said that school staffs are not trained to cope with this new aspect of bullying.
Caruana-Carabez said that he believes there should be a setting up of a centrally-located International School wherein the students would receive instruction in their particular languages. Bartolo’s comment disagrees with this statement, as he adds that the best way for children to learn is together, and not to introduce segregation.
Bartolo said that it is important to prepare children to be ready to face such challenges and that the Ministry has policies in hand for this on-going challenge. “The best way for children to learn is for them to learn together; I think it is very positive that children from different cultures and ethnic groups are learning and living together.” He added that the primary school in St. Paul’s Bay has recently been proclaimed on a European level, as a positive and ideal place for children to learn. “I admit, teaching teenagers to learn together is more challenging compared to the challenges for primary children, but these challenges also come with many benefits.”
Last week, 21 NGOs released a statement that the Commissioner for Education’s report was “careless and misinformed”. The NGOs pointed out that the challenges faced by educators, administrators, students and their families cannot be ignored. “The Commissioner’s analysis provides a one-sided perspective’ and the experiences and realities of students have been oversimplified.” The NGOs also stated that the Commissioner ignored the strengths and benefits of embracing different worldviews and cultural practices, and encouraging students to absorb knowledge and skills necessary.
“He [the Commissioner] also fails to examine whether any institution is responsible for having failed to respond to a migration phenomenon which was by no means unpredictable or unexpected.”