Article 13(2) of the Refugees Act states that asylum seekers shall have access to state-funded education and training. This general statement is complemented by the Reception Regulations, wherein asylum-seeking children are entitled to access the education system in the same manner as Maltese nationals, and this may only be postponed for up to three months from the date of submission of the asylum application. This three-month period may be extended to one year “where specific education is provided in order to facilitate access to the education system”. Primary and secondary education is offered to asylum seekers up to the age of 15-16, as this is also the cut-off date for Maltese students. Access to state schools is free of charge. These rules apply to primary and secondary education.
Access to education for unaccompanied children was significantly hindered as a consequence of delays in the registration of asylum applications.
Depending on the educational activity, UAMs need to have a legal guardian to get enrolled to courses offered to young people. This is problematic as, as already explained, very few minors are appointed a legal guardian. Despite some minors being appointed a legal guardian at the end of 2021, it is still early to measure the impact of this change on access to education.
The Ministry for Education and Employment established a Migrant Learners’ Unit which seeks to promote the inclusion of newly arrived learners into the education system. They provide guidance and information about the Maltese educational system to assist migrants.
In practice, children do attend school. Children with particular needs are treated in the same manner as Maltese children with particular needs, whereby a Learning Support Assistant (LSA) may be appointed to provide individual attention to the child. Yet it is noted that in the situation of migrant or refugee children, language issues are not appropriately provided for, with possible implications on the child’s long-term development.
Adults and young asylum seekers are eligible to apply to be exempted from fees at state educational institutions – including the University of Malta – vocational training courses, language lessons, and other adult education classes. Vocational training courses offered by JobsPlus, the State-run job placement service, are also accessible to asylum seekers.
It is to be noted, (see below) that beneficiaries of protection are increasingly making use of these educational services, primarily since information on their availability is becoming available to the various communities through NGO activities and increased openness by the relevant governmental authorities.
Several NGOs also offer free language classes in English or Maltese, but this service is not provided within reception centres.
Moreover, the government introduced, in 2018, the “I belong” Programme, an initiative run by the Integration Unit. The initiative consists of English and Maltese language courses and basic cultural and societal orientation as part of an integration process. It is open to all persons of migrant background, meaning asylum-seekers are able to benefit from it.
In 2020, JRS offered two trainings courses on Gender Based Violence prevention and protection in collaboration with Migrant Women Association Malta, to women living in Hal Far Open Centre. JRS repeated the programme with a group of women in HFO in 2021.
 Provison to Regulation 9(2) Reception Regulations.
 Information provided by JRS, January 2019.
 Info provided by JRS Malta 2021.