Education in Malta is regulated by the Education Act of 1998 and subsequent amendments. The Ministry of Education and Employment (MEDE) is responsible for the administration, organisation and the financial resources in state schools at all levels of education. The National Minimum Curriculum provides the educational vision for all schools in Malta and Gozo.
Compulsory education between the age of 5 and 16 is provided by the Directorate for Educational Services (DES) and is regulated by the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (DQSE). This consists of a 6-year programme in Primary schools (age level 5 to 11) and a 5-year programme in Lower Secondary schools (age level 11 to 16). Post-secondary education is provided by a 2-year programme in Upper secondary school (age level 16 to 18) and by 2 to 4-year programmes in Vocational schools (age level 16 to 20). Tertiary education is provided by the University of Malta (age level 18+).
State education is free of charge from pre-primary up to tertiary level. Within the compulsory school age students attending state education are provided with free textbooks and school transport. The non-state education sector is sub-divided into Church schools and independent Private schools. The Church schools are predominantly Roman Catholic schools and are heavily subsidised by the government and, as a result, Church schools do not charge any tuition fees. Independent schools are set up by individuals or non-profit parents’ foundations.
In parallel to this development, schools have been grouped into College Networks. Ten Colleges have been set up, nine covering Malta and the tenth Gozo. Each College is headed by a College Principal and is composed of a number of feeder primary schools and at least two secondary schools. There is also an additional network which includes Special schools.
The two directorates, the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (DQSE) and the Directorate for Educational Services (DES) are centrally responsible for ensuring quality assurance and services respectively from pre-primary up to the end of compulsory education. Each Directorate is headed by a Director General. Within the DQSE there are Education Officers who have an inspectorial role. These monitor and evaluate the teaching and learning as well as the administration of schools. They also provide support and advice to teachers and school management.
The University of Malta, a state funded institution, provides tertiary education and is fully autonomous. The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology and the Institute for Tourism Studies provide further and higher vocational education and training. Full time students attending upper secondary/post-secondary institutions and university receive a maintenance grant. The Directorate for Educational Services has overall responsibility for promoting lifelong learning and for facilitating opportunities and creating possibilities for continuing education. The National Commission for Further and Higher Education, which was set up in October 2006, has the remit to further developing higher and tertiary education and proposing a clear vision and sustainable targets and objectives for these sectors.