The National Curriculum Conference (2000) identified a series of measures which are negatively affecting creativity in the Maltese educational system such as: a rigid timetable, formal class-management protocol, syllabus overload, discouragement of students from taking ownership of learning, emphasis on competition and external rewards and teachers’ own limitations in the creative sector.
Since then, the national curriculum has set standards which legitimise the creative exploration of culture:
- an experimental approach to the creative subjects should be employed in art, music, drama, movement and literature; and
- further curricula in the area of creativity should contain space for creative thinking, so as to turn experience into an exciting event.
In 2014 Education Minister Evarist Bartolo announced plans to integrate arts subjects in the early years of secondary school, causing much concern and public outcry by arts education professionals. Under the banner of “Expressive Arts”, the new programme proposed that Form 1 and 2 students offers “taster” lessons in Art, Music and Drama each week, with the focus shifting on one of those three subjects rotating every three months of the scholastic year. Effectively, this meant that students will receive 10 lessons in Art, Drama and Music throughout the year.
Concern over the proposal’s implications were based on the fact that it would render the time allocated to each subject negligible since students would not have enough time to absorb any of the three subjects falling under the “Expressive Arts” banner in an effective way. A working group has been set up to review the current curriculum and propose new programmes.
Previous attempts to develop a comprehensive arts education programme include the introduction in 2002 of “creativity teachers” with the aim of accelerating artistic development in schools. In 2003, a report was submitted to the Ministry of Education, proposing the setting up of a Directorate to cater for cultural education in state, private, independent and Church schools.
School visits related to culture and creativity
Research carried out by the Creative Economy Working Group provides an overview of the level of exposure students have to cultural and creative sectors. The responses from schools (covering 8 out of the 10 colleges) were grouped under the four categories of the cultural and creative industries and are summarised below.
Heritage is the most popular activity for school visits overall. Heritage includes museums, cultural, historical, and archaeological sites, and crafts.
In Secondary Schools, on average every student went on a heritage-related visit during the surveyed academic year. In Primary, on average, all students went on a heritage-related visit, and 6 out of 10 went on a second visit. In fact, cultural sites, museums and other heritage-related visits are the most popular visits among all the sub-categories of cultural and creative activities visited by school groups. Crafts are the least popular in the heritage area. Crafts-related visits are relatively more popular in Primary schools with around a visit for 3 in every 10 students. Only 1 in every 10 students went on such visits in Secondary schools. Visits were related to activities such as glass-blowing, ceramics, pottery, exhibition of cribs, and carnival-festivity and mask-making, among others.
Arts are the second most popular area of activity visited by schools. In Primary, 8 in every 10 students went on an arts-related visit; whilst in Secondary schools 6 in every 10 students did so. The most frequent are theatre-related visits, attended by 5 in every 10 Secondary students and 7 in every 10 Primary students.
Media related visits at Secondary
and Primary levels were attended by 5 and 7 in every 10 students
respectively, making this the third most popular activity for schools.
However, when excluding visits to the cinema for simply watching films, Film, TV & Radio-related visits are sparse, averaging between 0 and 1 in every 10 students in both Secondary and Primary.
Creative Business Services (CBS): This is the least visited area of activity by schools. On average, 2 in every 10 students went on a CBS-related visit in Secondary school, whilst the number of visits in primary level rounds up to zero.
The most active Year: In Secondary, Form 4 classes made the highest number of visits related to the creative economy, with an average of 3 visits. In Primary, Years 5 and 6 made the highest number of visits with an average of 4 visits each.