The themes to be explored during the 1st Annual Online Symposium are:
- Internationalisation and multiculturalism in Maltese society
- Internationalisation and multiculturalism in schools
- Working in international and multicultural schools
- Effective international and multicultural practices in schools and society
The following papers have been selected for presentation during the 1st Annual Online Symposium. You can also download the full book of abstracts and programme here.
Internationalisation and multiculturalism in Maltese society
Educators’ constructions of Maltese society
Dr Louise Chircop
In the span of a few decades, Maltese society witnessed rapid social, cultural and political changes transforming itself from a primarily monocultural society into a multicultural one. The introduction of progressive civil rights legislation brought forth new understandings of gender, gender identity and family constructs. The Catholic Church is slowly losing its potential to influence its followers. These changes might be seen as a threat to the moral fiber of Maltese society, or an opportunity to see beyond the insularity of an island state. The aim of this paper is to explore the yet largely uncharted waters of how Maltese educators construct Maltese society and social diversity, which ultimately influence their practices in school. The study draws on social constructionism as a theoretical framework. I argue that teachers’ constructions of, and attitudes towards social diversity in Maltese society cannot be taken out of the context in which these have been socialised, nurtured, and perhaps sustained or otherwise challenged. In-depth semi-structured interviews were held with 19 participants hailing from State, Church and Independent schools. Critical Discourse Analysis was applied to analyse the data gathered. Educators’ constructions of Maltese society and the social diversity within it reflected their location as citizens of an island nation, with some of the participants seeking to preserve their visions and traditions of an imagined community while others looking outward and embracing change as something positive. They provided multiple constructions of Maltese society and social diversity, reflecting the geopolitics, history, religion and size of the island.
Keywords: educators, Maltese society, social diversity, constructions
Dr. Louise Chircop was a primary class teacher for 20 years. She is currently an Ethics support teacher and a teacher educator at the University of Malta, where she teaches at undergraduate and Master’s Level. Her main research areas include, social diversity, teacher identity, the experiences of Muslim students in schools and teachers’ practices in a socially diverse setting.
Internationalisation of Maltese society and education
Ms Christine Fenech and Dr Anita Seguna
Malta has witnessed a stark increase in immigration in recent years. The European Commission’s Country Report for Malta 2019 (European Commission 2019) suggests that labour and skills shortages may be a pull-factor for international labour to Malta. However, push and pull-factors for migration have become more complex in the 20th century including aspects such as safety from wars, and political or economic crises (Arar et al 2019, 2020a, 2020b; IOM 2020). Moreover, the profile of migrants has changed from targeted recruitment of guest workers in the post-war period to substantial diversity of countries of origin, languages, religions or migration channels (Massey 1990; Vertovec 2007, 2018). This diversification can also be witnessed in Maltese society and education and is posing challenges for schools to provide inclusive education suited to the learning needs of a diversifying student population (Bezzina & Vassallo 2019). However, while some qualitative research, through isolated snapshots of the numbers of international students in compulsory education exist, detailed data and analysis of its development over time are lacking.
This research, therefore, investigates data collected in recent years, in Maltese society and compulsory education. By studying the change in figures, of international residents and students in compulsory education (public, church and private schools), the article provides evidence of the rate at which diversification has been witnessed. It focuses upon diversification by sector and evaluates geographical differences witnessed within this diversification. Moreover, it investigates differences in the profile of international students enrolled in different educational institutions to demonstrate the extent to which ‘super-diversity’ is encountered within Maltese schools.
Keywords: immigration, internationalisation, Malta, education, perception, policy
Christine Fenech is the Senior Manager Research and Development at the Institute for Education, which aims at supporting teachers, parents and students to address challenges they face through evidence-based guidelines. Previously she worked as Manager Research and Policy at the National Commission for Further and Higher Education. She holds an MA in History of Art, Political Science and Philosophy from the Free University of Berlin and a Master in Comparative Euro-Mediterranean Education Studies from the University of Malta.
Anita Seguna has worked in the educational field since 1993 performing various roles: teacher, Head of School, Head of Curriculum Design and Professional Learning, mentor, tutor and lecturer. She is a part-time lecturer at the Institute for Education, Malta and the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. She believes in the importance of andragogy and a hands-on approach in the professional development of teachers. She is also the author of several books in Maltese for children and teenagers. Anita Seguna holds a Ph.D. from Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. In her thesis, she investigated internationalisation in secondary schools in Malta. She ascertains that internationalisation is a process that integrates a global perspective into the schools’ development.
Internationalisation and multiculturalism in schools
The Experience of Multiculturalism in Schools in Malta: A qualitative exploration
Ms Mariella Debono
This paper focuses on the experience of multiculturalism in schools in Malta from a sociological perspective. The various connotations of the term ‘multiculturalism’ are discussed, also within the Maltese context. Drawing on a number of scholarly works such as those of Kymlicka (2010) and Parekh (2006) multiculturalism is seen as a political endeavour engaged first and foremost in developing new models of democratic citizenship. The role of education in this endeavour is concerned with humanisation not just socialisation. The increase in pupils with different nationalities and ethnicities in schools in Malta is analysed within the increasing “fluidity and hybridity” of identity as presented by Cantle (2012) and by Sen’s (2006) “plural identities” as opposed to the “solitarist approach” to identity. This complexity gives rise to “liquid fear”, fear of the strange (Bauman, 2000) and a situation of uncertainty in keeping balance between change and retaining identity (Modood, 2013). Within this theoretical framework the research set out to explore, by means of a case study of a State Secondary school in Malta, the question ‘How, if at all, does multiculturalism impact the experience of pupils and teachers at school?’ Two expert interviews were also carried out and the relevant statistics were consulted to put the case study in a wider national and international context. The results show that the situation is one of a mixture of assimilation and indifference towards multicultural differences, with the Maltese language and the Catholic religion still having a stronghold on the schooling experience despite the increase in multilingualism and religious pluralism.
Keywords: multiculturalism, diversity, identity, integration, citizenship, qualitative research, case study, interviews
Mariella Debono graduated with a BA (Hons), a P.G.C.E. and a Masters in Sociology from the University of Malta, specialising in the area of ‘multiculturalism’. She is a lecturer in Sociology at a State Sixth Form and at the University of Malta, and a freelance sociologist providing services also to the Institute for Education, Malta. She is co-founder and currently vice-chairperson of the Malta Sociological Association.
Keeping the student at the focus – character education in a multicultural and internationalised context
Fr Mark Ellul
This paper will explore the effects of a multicultural society and social interaction on the formation of character and a values system in children. It will discuss how the school community can create a culture that supports every individual to explore one’s values hierarchy, whilst helping students to develop their character and flourish. It will argue that schools can help to foster a culture of inclusion where all can feel safe, valued and enabled to bloom. Schools that are firmly committed to developing the whole child give importance to character education. Character education is a systematic approach that helps students improve their moral judgment and thinking. It helps students to acquire basic human values. Character education becomes even more important in a multicultural context, it provides the basic tools that help one to be inclusive and integrate different beliefs. Humans are social beings and interact with others, this interaction helps individuals to change their attitudes to integrate within the group. The family, peers and schools provide groups of interactions that influence the children’s character formation. They can provide groups of belonging where one can feel safe and widen one’s belief system. The sense of trust created within groups of belonging provides a positive experience where one can examine one’s beliefs and develops them. The role of the media and virtual groups should not be underestimated; in today’s culture, they play an important role on values and character development.
Keywords: Character education; Values Education; Values Formation; Schools and Values
Fr. Mark Ellul is the Headmaster of the Archbishop’s Seminary. Observing the development of students and how they form a specific valued hierarchy to effectively integrate within society and being the headteacher of one of the Catholic schools in Malta led the author to link his philosophical and theological background with his educational training. His field of research is character and values education and is reading for a PhD in Educational Leadership at University College London.
The language of the future: The motivation of adults in Malta to study Mandarin Chinese as a foreign language
Ms Christiana Gauci Sciberras
China’s economic growth and opening up to the western world have led many people in the West to study Mandarin Chinese as a second or as an additional foreign language. Due to the rise of China, many people in the West are seeking to learn Mandarin Chinese in order to be able to communicate better with the endless opportunities that such a great culture and economy bring with it. As Hu Jintao said in his address to the Australian Parliament on the 24th of October 2003; The Chinese culture belongs not only to the Chinese but also to the whole world, suggesting that the Chinese actually welcome foreigners to learn their language and culture. In fact, many adults in the Western world are choosing to learn Mandarin Chinese as a foreign language for a number of different reasons; among which to improve their future career prospects. The current study aims to find out what motivates adult learners to choose to attend courses in basic Mandarin Chinese language and culture in Malta.
Keywords: Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, non-native teachers of Chinese, adult education, foreign language teaching
Christiana Gauci Sciberras teaches Chinese Mandarin to year 7 students at St. Margaret College (Cospicua) and to adult learners at the Directorate for Lifelong Learning. She has also taught study units in Chinese culture at the University of Malta. Christiana is a PhD candidate in the area of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language at the University of Southampton (UK). Her main research interests are Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, teacher identity, development of teaching resources, multilingual education, and modern Chinese language and cultural studies.
How is the Learning Outcomes Framework responding to an internationalised school culture in primary schools in Malta?
Mr Heathcliff Schembri
The Maltese education system is currently experiencing a revolutionary reform in the way the teaching and learning process is designed in classrooms at all levels, including primary schooling. As of September 2018, the island has started shifting from a content-based to an outcomes-based teaching and learning and the move is referred to as the introduction, or better the enactment, of the Learning Outcomes Framework (LOF, 2015). The LOF is being promoted as a way to decentralize teaching and give schools the autonomy to develop their own learning programmes according to the diverse abilities and needs of the learners in a particular school or College (i.e. a cluster of schools within a catchment area). This LOF structure is in line and has been assembled to support the National Curriculum Framework (NCF, 2012). Since the LOF is the first curriculum framework to be introduced in Malta since its membership in the EU in 2004, it is also devised in a way to reflect other important policy documents issued by the EU Commission such as the Key Competences for Lifelong Learning – A European Reference Framework (2006) and Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart sustainable and inclusive growth (2010). The former discusses key competences such as multilingualism, active citizenship and cultural awareness/expression while the latter includes migration, educational provision and educational structures as part of the strategy. This paper explains how the LOF reflects such EU policy documents and determines ways how the LOF is responding to internationalisation present in primary schools in Malta. A literature review of the current field scenario is presented. This is followed by an in-depth analysis of recent local policy developments and current practices which reflect how the enactment of the LOF in Malta is contributing to multicultural climates in primary schools. The results indicate that although objectives are set, many are still not understanding why the enactment of the LOF and how this is promoting internationalisation of schools in Malta. Further provision of professional training to educators and other stakeholders in primary schools, further support to schools and proper engagement of all students in the field are needed to clarify and reach the set objectives.
Keywords: primary education, outcomes-based education, multicultural education, internationalisation, Malta
Heathcliff Schembri is Head of Department (Curriculum) at the Migrant Learners’ Unit within MEDE. He holds a B.Ed in Primary Education and an M.A. from the University of Malta and is a PhD candidate at the University of East Anglia focusing on curriculum changes in Maltese primary schools. Previously he worked for 11 years as a Support Teacher and Classroom Teacher in primary schools in Malta. Heathcliff is the Malta Ambassador for the Europeana project by European Schoolnet and the President of the local NGO Right2Smile. He is a visiting lecturer at the Institute for Education, University of Malta and MCAST.
Working in international and multicultural schools
Migrant Learners’ Unit: Scaffolding a learning culture without silos
Ms Jane Farrugia Buhagiar and Ms Lara Sammut
The aim of this paper is to give an insight on the work of the Migrant Learners’ Unit (MLU) within the Ministry for Education and Employment (MEDE), an initiative with a commitment that goes beyond academic achievement. This paper will explain in detail the rationale of the Unit, explaining how it operates at organisational and at education provision levels. Furthermore, it will expound on how the MLU works with various stakeholders to build an understanding of various factors which enable the migrant learner to achieve a socially just educational experience. It will give a brief recount of the events that have influenced this area of education in the recent years and specifically look at the setting up of the MLU. It will also illustrate how various policies have influenced the setting up and the work done by the MLU.
Keywords: internationalisation, multiculturalism, diversity, social inclusion, social wellbeing, equity
Jane Farrugia Buhagiar taught for more than sixteen years in various schools. She worked as a teacher trainer and participated in the Summer Institute at the National Writing Project (NWP) site at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
In 2009 she was appointed an Education Officer. She was part of the consultative working group on migrant learners in schools in 2013 and was involved in the setting up of the provision of language induction processes for newcomer learners.
Since 2011, Jane has been involved in the coordination and management of five EU co-funded projects which focused on the training of teachers, the provision of language teaching and parental support for the integration of newcomer learner.
Jane is currently an education officer within the Migrant Learners’ Unit.
Lara Sammut is a professionally trained teacher specialising in the teaching of foreign languages. She is passionate about continuous professional development and the teaching of foreign languages. She has participated in various fora involving migration and the coordination of EU funded social cohesion projects. She covers the duties of Education Officer at the Migrant Learners’ Unit within the Ministry for Education and Employment, in Malta.
Preventing Radicalisation in Maltese schools: Learning from the UK’s Prevent duty experience
Ms Daniela Scerri
The concept of radicalization became a popular concept after the London bombings of 2005, and when official and media discourses proliferated this term become a fixture in terrorism and counter -terrorism debates.
Since 2005, the UK government has been at the forefront and a global actor in developing a policy to counter violent extremism, and at the moment countries like Malta are currently looking at the UK to see how such policies are working. In 2015, the UK became the first country to introduce a statutory obligation known as ‘Prevent duty’ or ‘the duty’ on schools and universities to “prevent young people from being drawn to terrorism”. (DfE 2015, p.3) Over the years the policy has raised a number of ethical dilemmas in the education sector. Drawing on empirical research conducted on the impact the duty (DfE 2015) on schools in England and Wales, I shall put forward some reflections as to pitfalls Maltese authorities need to watch out for when developing a tailor-made policy for Malta to counter violent extremism in schools.
Ms Daniela Scerri is a former English and PSD secondary school teacher from Malta, currently working at the European Commission in Brussels. In 2011 and 2014, respectively, she pursued two Master’s Degrees one in International Security Studies at the University of Leicester, UK and another in Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She is currently in her fourth year (part-time) of her PhD studies in Criminology at Royal Holloway University, London focusing on how education can help counter violent radicalisation of young people.
Social and Academic Preferences of Migrant Students in a Secondary School: The View from Within
Ms Antoinette Schembri
This paper studies perceptions of migrant students from one particular cohort attending a Maltese state school. The students, whose parents are both migrants, come from different backgrounds and cultures. Informal conversations were held, and data gathered was collated with participant observation. The results show that when migrant students are small in number, irrespective of whether they had been born in Malta or abroad, they did not find difficulties to integrate with their peers. Such integration depended also on the work carried out by the teachers and learning support educators. Their work is indispensable to make them feel academically integrated. Sports is a good medium to socially integrate these students, irrespective of gender. National policies are important, but success finally lies in the individual approach taken by the school.
Keywords: migrant students, secondary schools, integration
Antoinette Schembri has worked in the education sector for the past 23 years as a teacher in secondary schools and currently holds the post of assistant head of school. She holds two Master’s degrees, one in History and another one in Educational Leadership. Currently, she is reading for a Ph.D at the University of Warwick, specialising in alternative education, early school leaving and absenteeism, and migrant students. Antoinette Schembri has presented her work in various conferences in the UK and Europe and her papers have appeared in a number of different journals.
How can intercultural diversity be understood? The lecturers’ response
Dr. Damian Spiteri and Dr. Anita Seguna
Education set-ups across different age cohorts and countries often pride themselves in having students from various nations. The objective of this paper is to understand how, within a Maltese context, lecturers at sixth form level understand and consider intercultural diversity when implementing the curriculum. It also studies how lecturers’ personal experiences with race and culture inform their thinking on a meta-reflective level. Previous research has shown the importance of the use of reflection in teacher education (Davis 2006) and the use of portfolios for learning and assessment (Chetcuti et al. 2006) but little research has been carried out on teachers’ perspectives of teaching intercultural classes at a sixth form level. The study aims to fill in this lacuna in the literature by exploring what lecturers believe influences their ideas and practices of intercultural education in the classes they teach. There are clear implications of this study for policy, particularly showing that good will and having the best of intentions need to be augmented by a curriculum that is flexible enough to accommodate for students from different cultural groups if student learning is to be optimised across the board.
Keywords: teaching pedagogy; race/culture; power and influence; student-centred or curriculum-centred teaching; inter/multiculturalism
Damian Spiteri has been active in the education field for the past 25 years and has worked as a school social worker, teacher, guidance teacher, and lecturer. He is a senior lecturer in health and social care at MCAST and has also lectured in social work at the University of Malta, University of Strathclyde and the University of York. He has a keen interest in the area of multicultural education and has presented widely on the topic in various university settings in Europe, America and Asia. He is also the author of a book on multicultural education that was published by Palgrave Macmillan and is now working on his second book on Migrant Education that will be published later this year.
Anita Seguna has worked in the educational field since 1993 performing various roles: Teacher, Head of School, Head of Curriculum Design and Professional Learning, Mentor, Tutor and Lecturer. She is a part-time lecturer at the Institute for Education, Malta and at the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. She believes in the importance of andragogy and a hands-on approach in the professional development of teachers. She is also the author of several books in Maltese for children and teenagers. Anita Seguna holds a Ph.D. from Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. In her thesis, she investigated internationalisation in secondary schools in Malta. She ascertains that internationalisation is a process that integrates a global perspective into the schools’ development.
Tracking Conceptual Development in Multicultural Education: A mixed-methods approach
Mr Brian Vassallo
The plurality of cultural differences permeating the walls of Maltese classrooms has offered researchers in Multicultural Education an opportunity to use various research tools in their quest to access progress in teacher education programs. Programs purporting to impart or somehow develop the skills of educators to embrace multiculturalism in classrooms have been devoid of effective tracking methods to determine their effectivity. The paper examines the variations in beliefs and concepts of 29 teachers attending a 20 hr course on multicultural education focusing on knowledge, understanding, competences and critical abilities needed to teach students from culturally diverse backgrounds. Teachers attending training were exposed to a range of pedagogical practices including the use of micro groups, case study illustrations, videos from YoutubeTM, whole group activities and connecting experiences. The course participants were asked to draw concept maps highlighting their understanding on Multicultural Education before and after the sessions. Besides, participants were asked to write reflective journals during and at the end of the course. Evidence suggests that after being exposed to training in Multicultural Education, participants are more willing to engage in critical self-reflections and to adopt changes in teaching strategies so as to include all students under their care, irrespective of cultural background. The research also asserts that there were substantial changes in concept formation in all categories under study which were highly beneficial to participants as they progressed through the sessions as evidenced by both concept maps and reflective journal analysis.
The paper touches upon the role of various stakeholders in education to provide professional training in Multicultural Education for all educators. It also advocates for human and financial capital to reaffirm our nation’s commitment towards an educational system that promotes a level playing field for every child thus ensuring fair opportunities for fuller participation in an increasingly diverse society.
Keywords: Multicultural Education; Concept maps; Reflective journals, Training programs
Mr Brian Vassallo B. Psy (gen), Dip Inc Ed, MSc (UK) is a graduate in Psychology and in Inclusive Education from the University of Malta and also a Master’s graduate in Educational Leadership from the University of Leicester (UK). He is a visiting lecturer at the University of Malta where he contributes within the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Laws. He is the author of numerous research papers published locally and in renowned international journals. His research interests include Multicultural Educational Leadership, and Cultural and Disability Inclusion. Mr Vassallo is also a program development expert within the Institute for Education.
Effective international and multicultural practices in schools and society
Expanding Borders – A study on Cultural Intelligence and Leadership Styles in a Maltese Primary School
Ms Janice Darmanin
This short study titled ‘expanding borders’ seeks to find the key to effectively create educational communities in the ever-growing multicultural settings which we, as educational leaders, are facing. It explores the main research question chosen: Is Cultural Intelligence affecting the Leadership Styles in a Maltese Primary School. Other issues were involved such as: • Does having a variety of different cultures in a school affect the leadership styles of the School Leader? How does this happen? • Do leaders shape culture, or are they shaped by it? How should leadership styles be adapted in the education sector? The research being carried out in this small-scale project is based on Theoretical Research. It is aimed at giving a picture of how a leader needs to use cultural intelligence in a multicultural school setting. Both quantitative and qualitative methods of inquiry have been used in this project. These include online surveys, unstructured questionnaires and interviews. This small-scale project showed that cultural intelligence should have a very important role in the leadership styles used in a multicultural setting. It is evident that there is a positive relationship between having cultural intelligence, knowing how to use it and leadership styles which need to be adopted to enhance all this and reap the benefits. This study recommends that empowering and transformative leadership styles should be adopted to create a positive impact on learning and outcomes, and furthermore to sustain a positive and powerful learning community in our schools. This is particularly crucial as nationwide changes will persist and different cultures continue to intertwine.
Keywords: multiculturalism, multicultural school, cultural intelligence, leadership styles, empowerment, transformative leadership, positive learning community
Janice Darmanin born in 1978, in Sydney Australia had her primary education in an Australian multicultural Church School. She continued her education in Malta and graduated from the University of Malta with a Bachelor’s Degree in Maltese and Early & Middle Years. Her career as a primary school teacher involves 11 years of teaching Personal and Social Development in around 12 different schools. In 2011 she was appointed Assistant Head of a Primary School which faces various challenges due to socio-economic reasons, apart from it becoming a multicultural school. She is currently reading her Master’s Degree in Applied Educational Leadership with the Institute of Education.
Addressing Societal Polarisation in Maltese Schools through Experimental Laboratories
Dr. Aitana Radu and Ms. Giulia De Vita
Maltese society is experiencing an increase in its diversity due to a booming economy and the position of the country in the Mediterranean, which are bringing different waves of migration to the island. Difficulties in the integration of these communities with the local community and tensions among them are some of the consequences of this phenomenon. Schools are in particular an important environment in which these tensions manifest themselves, and children from different backgrounds are increasingly polarized. Moreover, Malta, similar to the rest of Europe is also increasingly exposed to more radical ideologies of various types, which are contributing to social polarisation. Furthermore, young people are often made more vulnerable and at risk of being exposed to these ideologies because of their intense use of social media. As part of the ARMOUR project, we have carried out qualitative research with first-line practitioners working with children and young people, including teachers, social workers, youth workers and police. The findings showed that practitioners are not prepared for this change and often are lacking the skills for properly addressing the ever increasing polarisation. Teachers in particular called for increased training on how to address societal polarisation and encourage integration and inclusion in schools. Following the approach promoted by RAN EDU (Radicalisation Awareness Network, 2016) the ARMOUR projects has developed a series of exercises that – when used by first-line practitioners – can empower children and young people, making them less vulnerable to extreme ideologies, through the development and strengthening of critical thinking, as well as basic life skills and social competencies that are essential for active citizenship.
Keywords: social polarisation, radicalisation, violent extremism, prevention, children, young people, first-line practitioners, education
Dr. Aitana Radu is the Security Research Coordinator within the Department of Information Policy & Governance. Her research focuses on different aspects of security science, from violent radicalisation to intelligence oversight. Since 2013, Dr Radu has worked on several European-funded projects in both the design and implementation phases, focusing mostly on radicalization in the ARMOUR and JP-COOPS projects, law enforcement practices (CITYCoP and MIRROR), the implementation of the European Investigation Order (SAT-LAW and PRE-RIGHTS), disaster management (CARISMAND) and developing security science (ESSENTIAL).
Giulia De Vita is a Research Support Officer within the Department of Information Policy & Governance at the University of Malta. She joined the department in March 2019, after working in the field of migration both in Brussels and Malta. Since joining the department, she has been contributing to the research activities in the ARMOUR project, on the prevention of radicalization in young people, and in the MIRROR project, on mass migration and border-management. Giulia holds an M.A. in Social Policy and Economics from the University of Edinburgh and an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Groningen.
Facing the Challenge of Preparing Maltese Schools and Students for a Multicultural Society: An Opportunity to Redefine Identity in the Light of “Otherness”
Mr Edward Wright
Collaboration between the SfCE and the production house CPI in organizing multiculturalism seminars for Year 10 students in all Maltese schools has the main objective of providing opportunities for discussion, sharing of and reflection upon own experience and perspectives on multiculturalism, as well as listen to experiences of people coming from diverse cultures. This paper will report the results of a qualitative research study that has been carried out over these past three years to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of such an educational project and understand how its design can be improved. Interviews with students and teachers during and after the seminars, small group discussions during the event, and a couple of focus groups organized after, were all transcribed and analyzed narratively and thematically. The results point towards the students’ need to learn what multiculturalism really means, the beautiful and enriching challenges it offers, how these can be dealt with in ways that nurture self-growth in the light of the “other”, and fruitful dialogue that enhances holistic identity. These results also highlight the need for students’ voices to be heard with respect to their experiences of multiculturalism, a first step toward the reduction of their prejudices and stereotypes. These voices could lead to increased acceptance of and greater respect for the “other”, realization that conviviality of diverse cultures is both inevitable and necessary for holistic identity and well-being in today’s demographic landscape. The paper’s narrative literature review evaluates different models of multicultural education that adopt inclusive and democratic approaches, and are based on principles of democracy, equality and impartial justice. Such educational projects can increase students’ open-mindedness and open-heartedness towards people from other cultures, facilitating the path towards responsible citizenship as students seek to use their positive energy and virtues for the common good of our multicultural society.
Keywords: Multiculturalism education, personal identity, collective identity, otherness, critical reflection, qualitative research.
Edward Wright is a doctoral student at Bournemouth University and a Visiting Lecturer at the Faculties of Education and Theology at the University of Malta, as well as at the Institute for Education. He also works at the Maltese Secretariat for Catholic Education as the Head of Department for Media Literacy Education, PSCD and Religious Education.