Language and Literacy
At the end of 2014, the population of Malta was approximately 427,000, with 94 percent being Maltese. Malta has two official languages: Maltese (the national language) and English. The National Curriculum Framework considers bilingualism as the basis for the education system and defines bilingualism as the effective, precise, and confident use of the country’s two official languages. Students must be functionally bilingual by the end of their school experience. The National Curriculum Framework encourages teachers at the primary level to use English when teaching English, mathematics, science, and technology. At the secondary level, the curriculum requires Maltese and English to be taught in each respective language and recommends that foreign languages be taught in those languages. The subjects of social studies; history; geography; religion; and personal, social, and career development are taught in Maltese, while other subjects are taught in English. Bearing in mind the National Curriculum Framework recommendations, classroom teachers decide which language best facilitates student development and concept acquisition.
The National Literacy Strategy for All in Malta and Gozo 2014–2024 was launched by the Ministry for Education and Employment in June 2014. (Gozo is the second largest island in the Maltese archipelago.) This strategy, which promotes a policy of bilingualism and biliteracy in Maltese and English, is based on the premise that one of the essential elements of a bilingual country is the ability of its people to switch easily between languages. This competency is valuable because it allows people in Malta access to Maltese, English, and other languages. The National Literacy Strategy for All seeks to ensure that biliteracy is fully embedded within the education system in Malta.