Compulsory Education Age
5–15 per the Education Act §2
There is growing interest in homeschooling on the island of Malta, and families are in dialogue with the Ministry of Education to include a provision for homeschooling in the education law.
While the Education Act (Cap. 327, 1991) §5 refers to compulsory school attendance, there is a legal basis for parents to direct the education of their children. The Constitution of Malta (1964) states only that education, not school attendance, is compulsory (§10). The Education Act (Cap. 327, 1991) §6 further states, “It is the right of every parent of a minor to give his decision with regard to any matter concerning the education which the minor is to receive.”
The Law recognizes basic individual and parental rights, stating that "it is the right of every citizen . . . to receive proper education and instruction without any distinction of age, sex, belief or economic means,”and that “[i]t is the right of every parent of a minor to give his decision with regard to any matter concerning the education which the minor is to receive.”
Until 1987, education in Malta was compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16; the 1988 Act extends this provision in two important ways: Education is now compulsory between 5 and 15 per the Education Act §2
The Minister of Education now has the power to extend the period of compulsory education for certain courses as he may prescribe by regulation.
It is the duty of every parent of a minor:
- to register the child in a school for the first scholastic year, starting when he or she is of compulsory school age;
- to ensure that the child continues to attend school up to the end of the scholastic year during which he or she ceases to be of compulsory school age, or up to the end of such further period as the Minister may prescribe by regulations; and
- to ensure that the child attends school regularly on each scholastic day, unless he or she has a good and enough cause to be absent from school.
The 1988 Education Act states that any parent of a minor shall be guilty of an offense and shall, on conviction, be liable to the punishments established for contraventions if the parent fails to do the following:
- Register that minor in a State school, or in a school licensed under this Act, for the first scholastic year starting when he/she is of compulsory school age
- Ensure that the minor is so registered at all times for every scholastic year during the whole period that the minor is of compulsory school age
- Cause that minor to continue to be so registered up to the end of the scholastic year during which the minor ceases to be of compulsory school age or up to the end of such further period as the Minister may, by regulations, prescribe
- Ensure, without a good and sufficient cause, that the minor attends school regularly on each scholastic day during such period that the minor is of compulsory school age and up to the end of the scholastic year during which the minor ceases to be of compulsory school age, and up to the end of such further period as the Minister may by regulations prescribe
Punishment for these offenses will also include a fine not exceeding one lira for each day during which the offense continues.
Homeschooling in Malta is rare because there is the concept of inclusive education. An inclusive education is based on a commitment, on the part of the learning community, to fully acknowledge individual differences and to profess as well as implement inclusionary politics. This concept recognizes the full range of educational interests, potential, and needs of students.
The Times of Malta discusses a recent conversation with Education Minister Evarist Bartolo regarding changes to the Education Act.
1Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis, speaks on the benefits of homeschooling.
Parents discuss with MaltaToday how homeschooling allows children to socialize with a wide range of people and ages.