PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

Reference is being made to the Times of Malta report on absenteeism.

The Ministry believes that the report does not reflect the full picture of affairs as it only takes into account the number of secondary students missing 1-10 days, without giving the context that this increase was mainly due to sharp decreases in the number of students missing 11 days and more. The numbers actually show unauthorised absenteeism decreasing overall-long-term absentees are becoming short-term absentees.

A considerable number of secondary students who missed more than 10 days in previous years have now decreased their absenteeism to under 10 days, hence the relative spike in this bracket. The total number of secondary students who missed more than 11 days last year was 2,335, while this year (from the data available up till now) this went down to 1,265.

The statistics show that the 11-20 bracket is around 50% less, and by the end of the year this should be well below the previous year.

Overall, these changes denote improvements. It is positive that higher bracket absentees (11 days or more) are moving into the lower one (10 days or less), and one should not see the 0-10 day bracket without context, as we believe the article does. In addition to this, the numbers show positive drops in primary students absenteeism despite the fact that there was a substantial increase in registered students, amounting to 696 students.

It is important to stress that fruitful and proper comparisons can only be effectively made at the end of the scholastic year, when one can compare like with like and have a thorough understanding of the situation, especially when absenteeism is often tied to complex social factors well beyond the control of schools. Such figures need to be scientifically studied for conclusions to take place: an example of this is the sharp increase in the number of foreign families which leave the country without de-registering their children from school, allowing for a situation wherein a first-hand look at the data gives the impression that long-term absenteeism has increased.

The Directorate has engaged in setting long-term measures to work and intervene from the early years, with a care plan drawn according to the students’ needs. Each school is now enhancing the whole school approach system to combat absenteeism and reach the target of increasing attendance.

Source: Government of Malta