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Guidance History

A brief word about each of these bodies and organizations, as well as a note about how their respective activities served as a catalyst in the setting up of formal guidance and counseling services, will provide the reader with a sense of the origins and development of the field in the Maltese islands. Given the local context, and particularly given the time frame that is being considered, it is important to point out the extent to which religion and culture were then even more intimately intertwined than they are presently. Personal counseling was mainly a question of providing pastoral and spiritual direction, while youth work was often carried out by priests or deeply committed lay volunteers, often under the direction of the clergy. This is the case of the Teenagers’ Correspondence Club, for instance, which was founded in 1 963 by the Rev C. Fennec.

Teachers, social workers, psychiatrists, lawyers and parents worked ” together to offer assistance to youth through correspondence, telephone conversations and personal interviews, and a sub-committee was eventually set up to counsel youth on issues related to vocational guidance. The latter group published pamphlets. Organized lectures and courses, introduced aptitude tests, and provided a careers guidance serviceableness dynamic Church organization, the Young Christian Workers, took a further step forward by organizing a survey among 4000 youths in 1966. A main conclusion from this early research showed that a argue number of students were leaving school without any preparation for life. And that there was a felt need for vocational guidance. The YWCA urged immediate action, and there was consensus that the responsibility for providing such a service lay with the Education Department.

The Y OCW recommended that officers be trained to offer a quality vocational guidance service in all schools, that guidance and counseling be introduced in the curricula of teacher training colleges, and that visits to factories and other work places should be Organized to help young people become familiar with industrial settings. Five years after the completion of the survey, a national workshop about Adolescent Problems in Malta’ was Organized by the Can Movement, a voluntary Church organization set up in 1 959 in order to educate and prepare young engaged couples for marriage. The workshop reiterated the findings of the YWCA research, and further alerted the public about the importance of vocational guidance for a successful insertion into the world of work. Similar views were expressed by members of Parents’ and Students’ Associations, concerned as these were by the lack of guidance that students ad at school, especially where this concerned career opportunities.

Likewise, the Malta Union of Teachers argued for a comprehensive guidance and counseling service for all students, and in a report which it presented to professor Lewis in 1967. Listed a number of points which it felt needed to be considered now that educational planning and secondary education for all were being placed on a solid footing. The MI-JET noted the need for trained personnel who would help identify the abilities and aptitudes of individual students, and guide them to appropriate educational and vocational tracks. The movement in favor of guidance and counseling services within schools came to a head when a Council of Europe Swedish expert on pupil guidance visited Malta in 1968.

The recommendations drawn up by Ms Margarita Vesting will he dealt with in detail in a later section of this chapter, given that her visit was instrumental in the development of guidance and counseling in schools, At this stage, it is important to point out that several organizations which have already been referred to, and which were involved in working with young people, exploited Ms Vesting’s presence in order to make a number of rapports, The Malta Youth Consultative Council, for instance, submitted a memorandum to MS Vesting expressing its concern about the lack of vocational guidance in Malta, a concern it had been expressing since its foundation in 1949.

The Mac’s memorandum contained reference 10 the importance of establishing a sound educational and vocational guidance system led by professionally trained personnel, and to the need for stressing equality between the genders in the transition between school and work. The Malta Dreadlocks too was keen on making its set of recommendations and proposals to MS Vesting. The Malta Dreadlocks had gently reintroduced its own apprenticeship scheme; closely modeling on the English system, the scheme offered technical courses Of a very high quality, and registered an impressive annual success rate, attracting some of the most promising youths on the island. During discussions held with Ms Vesting, Dreadlocks officials pointed out that there existed a need of greater awareness in schools with regards to career opportunities.

Such views reflected concerns that had long been expressed by the General Workers Union; given its awareness of the problems of young workers, and particularly so those employed in the chemical sector, it had striven for the introduction of apprenticeship schemes and had stressed the need for an effective national youth employment service which would offer, among other things, a sound vocational guidance service. While the Education Department had not established systematic guidance and counseling services in its schools prior to 1 968, it had nevertheless developed a close collaboration with the Department of Labor through the services of the Youth Employment Officer of the time, Joseph J. Portfolio. Portfolio. Who is probably the first Maltese to have obtained a formal lubrication in the field of vocational guidance, was responsible for the organization of talks On career orientation with Standard VI students.

Such seminars were held separately with parents and students in Malta and Go. And focused mainly on employment opportunities. Portfolio also published the first two books related to guidance and counseling in Malta. The first was intended for students who wanted to further their studies in order to have access to better options later on in life, and was entitled From School to Work A Guide to Careers. The second book, written in Maltese, was meant for dents who opted to take up a job on attain Eng the compulsory school leaving age, and was entitled Ghanaian shall-Aziza talebearer chat-Taft lie Gullah t-Ataxia-ii Seen (i. E. Choosing a Career A Guide for 13 year olds).

Porthole’s unstinting efforts earned the appreciation of several parents and organizations, and indeed MS Vesting acknowledged the importance Of a close relationship between the Education Department and the Department of Labor the foundations of which had already been laid by Portfolio – arguing that they should jointly set up a Standing Committee in order ‘to facilitate the accessory frequent co-operation concerning plans, actions, evaluation, material and other aids, etc. (Vesting, 1969, p. 79 Para. 21 6). THE SETTING UP OF THE GUIDANCE UNIT The initiatives that have been briefly outlined in the previous section can be considered to be ‘grass-roots’ movements in favor of guidance services for young people, articulated by different groups working at the chalk face and in different capacities with Maltese youth.

Their activities, reports and proposals prepared the ground for – and led to the establishment Of a formal system Of guidance and counseling within the education sector. This development was facilitated by a number of foreign education experts who visited Malta after the acquisition of political independence in 1 964, and who were sent over by UNESCO to serve as consultants to the government in the attempt to strengthen and expand Malt’s educational infrastructure and services. Among the more important of these consultants was. Lewis, who’s report on educational planning made a clear statement about the need for the development of guidance and counseling facilities in the school system (Lewis 1967, Para. 70).

The recommendations made by Professor Lewis were taken up, and on the 13th of August 1 968, two male teachers, Martin Vela Huber and Able Igloo, were relieved of all teaching duties and were assigned the task of setting up an Educational Guidance Unit within the Department of Education. Both teachers had been awarded a Commonwealth Bursary and had successfully completed a course in Education Guidance in U. K. The previous year. They were initially assisted by Mr. V. Cancan, but this latter officer left the Unit in March 1969 on being appointed Inspector of Science. Vela Huber and Igloo sought the co-operation of Mr. J. Cameron, a UNESCO expert, who was in Malta working on the follow-up of the Lewis report.

The two officers were also informed that the Government of Malta had sought assistance from the Council of Europe and that, as a result, Ms Margarita Vesting, an expert in Pupil Guidance at Primary and Secondary Level was soon to come on a consultancy visit to Malta. Vesting in fact visited Malta on two occasions, from the 21 SST October to the 2nd November 1968 and from the 1 lath June to the 2nd July 1969. Her terms of reference were: To review any existing guidance services in Malta. To study the need of an Organized educational and vocational guidance service, taking into consideration the commendations of the Lewis report on educational planning.

To consider the setting up of a Guidance and Counseling unit within the Department Of Education. To advise the Minister of Education, Culture and Tourism on the steps necessary to achieve this aim. Educational and vocational Vesting’s brief also included visits to schools to hold discussions with principals and to offer advice as to how such a unit for pupil guidance could be set up and as to what its functions were to be. She was also expected to state how teachers could be trained for this purpose and what qualifications they were expected to obtain in order to become pupil guidance officers. Vesting’s findings were published in a report entitled Memorandum on Pupil Guidance in November 1969.

She made a list of recommendations covering four key areas, namely those concerning goals and directions, those concerning the different actions that needed to be taken, those concerning administration, central bodies, and their respective duties, and those concerning the training of staff and teachers. Initially, the Guidance Unit’s main task was the creation of an infrastructure for the proper functioning of guidance in the state education system. A scheme for the setting up of an Educational Guidance Unit within the Department of Education was finalized in October 1 ASS. The scheme was approved in Toto by the then Director of Education, Chevy. S. Goat.

Unfortunately, several attempts to obtain a copy of the proposed plan proved fruitless, but interviews with the founding officers Of the Unit revealed that the aim of the scheme was to establish guidance as an integral rather than as a peripheral activity within the education system. It was also planned that guidance and counseling services would be offered by professional response who had been trained in the relevant disciplines for the purpose. The plan submitted by the newly established Guidance unit was given full support by the Education Department. A circular issued in December 1968 (Circa. No. 288/68 – Educe. 967/67) by the Director of Education requested all Heads of Schools to afford Messes Vela Huber, Cancan, and Igloo every assistance they might require while carrying out duties connected with Educational Guidance. 968 also saw the visit of another UNESCO expert to Malta, J. Cameron. His task was to conduct a study concerning the introduction of secondary education for all. His brief included the working out of details for a new school structure, teaching and support staff, buildings and facilities, costs, and so on. Naturally, all this was of particular interest and concern to the newly set up Guidance unit, since Carrion’s recommendations would have implications for the guidance programmer. Indeed, one of the issues that was to have an impact on the practice of vocational and educational guidance and counseling was the fact that secondary education for all was introduced on the basis of a tripartite structure.

This meant that guidance officers were obliged to carry out assessment and evaluation work linked to the streaming and channeling of students towards particular schools, and streams and courses within schools. Vesting (1969, p. 20) had indeed issued a strong warning about this, arguing that: ‘… One thing is evident: from the aspect of guidance it is most important that the streaming of pupils does not begin too early. All too easily, the placement in a stream fixes the child in a direction where its capacities cannot be all- round development. The label ‘grammar’ or technical’ or ‘general’ could indeed be fatal. Not because the education itself should not be good in each stream, but because of the very hard conquered, settled attitudes among pupils, parents and teachers, ranking the streams perhaps unconsciously’.

THE INTRODUCTION OF CUMULATIVE RECORD CARDS One of the Guidance Unit’s major task soon after its establishment was the introduction of cumulative record cards in all schools. This was an important initiative, since it lay the foundation for the recording of information about students in such a way as to facilitate the delivery of personalized guidance and educational support. Before deciding on the final raft of the record cards, the Guidance Unit studied various systems which had been adopted abroad, held pilot projects in local schools, and discussed various drafts with Heads of Schools, School Inspectors, and with the Assistant Director and Director of Education.

Primary Schools Cumulative Record Cards were introduced in 1969/70. Cards for Secondary Schools were ready to be introduced in 1971/72 and those for Infant Classes were finalized in 1971/72. Cumulative Record Cards were designed in a way that would clearly portray the child’s educational and personality development year by year. The Infant Record Card was meant to provide a basis for observation in order to assist in the physical, psychological and social development of the child. The Primary School Record Card was meant to provide the head of school with an objective basis for the drawing up of a report when pupils left the primary and went to the secondary level of education.

In the latter sector, the Cumulative Record Card provided a comprehensive assessment of academic achievement and personality development, and such information was used to guide students in their consideration of further education and work opportunities. TEACHER TRAINING Clearly, the establishment of a Guidance Unit and the increasing attention given to guidance services within schools meant that educators, particularly teachers, had to be made aware of the nature of guidance and its hoped-for effects. In addition, the Guidance Unit required teachers in schools to be in a position to collaborate with what can be referred to as a ‘guidance approach’ to education, Towards this end, Mr. Vela Huber and Mr. Igloo launched a series of lectures in May 1 969 for teachers assigned duties in Educational Guidance.

Among the topics discussed were ‘the meaning of guidance’, adolescents and their problems’, ‘basic principles of evaluation’, and ‘guidance services in schools’. The in-service training of teachers was also accompanied by the promotion of awareness of the guidance field among pre-service student-teachers at the Teacher Training Colleges of Education. Indeed, October 1 969 saw a team of four – Mr. M. Vela Huber, Mr. A. Igloo, Mr. S. Devon and Ms L. Orzo -commence lectures On the subject Of pupil guidance. The latter two officers had been seconded to the Guidance Unit in September 1 969, having successfully completed a year’s training in the U. K. Adding to the award of a Diploma in Educational Guidance. During that same year, talks on guidance-related issues were Organized for pupils in the Primary and Secondary Sectors in both State and private schools. The talks were delivered by guidance officers and covered various topics including career planning and personal development. THE GUIDANCE UNIT AND SELECTION PROCEDURES The tripartite structure Of secondary education, and the resultant preoccupation with selection and channeling, led to a concern with educational assessment as a means of feeding students into a differentiated system. In 1969 the Education Department acquired the services of another Unesco expert, CA. S.

Toupee, who was to act as a consultant on the development of a policy for educational assessment to this time, the selection procedure used in the transfer of pupils from the primary to the Secondary Sector consisted of a written test in English and Arithmetic open to pupils between ten and fourteen years of age. Toupee carried out pilot studies of standardized tests which could be utilized for selection as well as for educational guidance. He was assisted in his work by officers from the Guidance Unit. In his final report Toupee (1970) drew up a plan by which the traditional examination could be replaced by a four-part assessment of the pupil based on tests Of English, Arithmetic and Verbal Ability and assessments of school work conducted by the headaches.

The guidance unit was very much interested in the proposed new selection procedures as they would be of great assistance in the transition of pupils from the Primary to the Secondary sector. The introduction of secondary education for all in 1970 therefore brought with it new admission procedures. The guidance unit was actively involved in the whole process and as responsible for the collection and redistribution of all record cards. The cards were discussed with heads of secondary schools where the pupils had now been transferred, thus creating a vital link between the two sectors. Another UNESCO expert who had visited Malta to assist in selection procedures was Dry. R. B. Cliff.

Cliff drew up a report in 1971, outlining strategies for educational testing and measurement, and arguing that guidance officers had a crucial role to play in the transition of students from the primary to the secondary school sector. Cliff (1. 971, p. 1 82) in fact commended that: ‘ . A new system of guidance and evaluation [should] replace the existing arbitrary selective written examination for entry to secondary education. This will be achieved by Cumulative Record Cards, Standardized Tests and Teachers’ Assessments. ‘ THE GUIDANCE UNIT’S INVOLVEMENT IN TESTS AND TESTING Following the Toupee and Cliff reports, a new focus was placed by the Education Department on the development of modem methods of assessment.

This required a survey of the existing system of examinations and testing at Primary and Secondary level, including the admission examinations to secondary schools and technical institutes; the introduction of standardized tests: the adoption of a uniform system of grading/marking by heads of schools; and the revision of admission procedures. Cliff( 1971 had recommended that the ‘official responsibility for examinations and testing be removed from the Guidance Unit and vested in the Examinations Unit. ‘ Such a service was indeed set up in 1971. The Test Construction Unit, as it was called, worked in close collaboration with the Guidance Unit, and was engaged in the construction of various standardized tests and in the drawing p of reports on assessment and testing. The TIC developed two progress tests in English and Arithmetic, and these were used by all head teachers in both state and private schools in order to make a more objective assessment of pupils.

The first-ever standardized tests to be held in Malta consisted of an English Word Reading Test, a Maltese Word Reading Test, and an Arithmetic Skills Test. These tests were constructed and standardized by J. M. Falcon, a member Of the TCL, and who was to eventually become the first Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Malta. Falcon constructed another three standardized tests, namely English Reading Comprehension Tests A and B, and a Maltese Group Reading Test. These were standardized for Year 6 pupils, and used for the final assessment of Primary school children and for the assessment and identification of slow learners in Secondary schools.

In 1 975, the UTC was entrusted with the setting of Year 6 Primary and all Secondary school examinations at a national level, and in 1981 the UTC was given the responsibility of setting of entrance examination papers for the newly established Junior Lyceums. Examinations were set for entrance into forms I o V. As from 1 985 entrance examinations were limited to form l. With effect from 1982 the UTC was also entrusted with the setting of national annual examinations for Junior Lyceums for forms I through V. Also in the same year Primary schools examinations from Year 3 upwards were nationalized. The UTC also carried out research on all exams. Another service given by the UTC was a Mean and Standard Deviation exercise of each subject in each Form or Year at a national and school level.

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