SEC Examiners have reiterated their warning about the low level in the spelling of Maltese in the wake of the fact that the absolute majority students lost all marks allocated for orthography in their essay. Furthermore, that many students struggled to write a formal letter or email, and this might have serious implications later on in life when they are in employment.

These warnings were sounded in the annual report published by the University of Malta Matsec Examinations Board which analyzes the performance of the students in each subject, in this case Maltese at ordinary level. It transpires that in the May 2022 session, 2,456 candidates obtained a pass mark (grade from 1 to 5) out of 3,813, which translates to a rate of 64% percent.

Examiners pointed out that certain mistakes had become endemic as they were being flagged year after year, with little improvement overall. This applies mostly to spelling whereby the absolute majority of candidates lost all marks allocated for orthography in the essay. It also emerged that many students did not know how to express themselves in Maltese and often switched directly from English, as highlighted in the following examples:

  • Għamilt ħażin ħafna fl-eżami (I did very badly in the exam)
  • Morna għand iċ-ċinema (We went to the cinema)

In other cases candidates coined terms which do not exist such as:

  • Ġie unkonxju (He felt unconscious)

Candidates were also requested to write a letter or email of around 80 words. While a considerable number of errors were encountered in the format of the letter itself, including the omission of the date, many were unable to properly express the message they wanted to convey.  As a matter of fact, a letter inviting a singer for an interview regarding the launch a new album, was written in such a way that candidates ended up dictating the time and place of the meeting. Moreover, the letter was riddled with orthographic mistakes, grammatical errors and lack of punctuation.

From a wider perspective this shortcoming is of concern because it could have an impact for the future when candidates delve into the employment market. Employers have long been complaining that possessing the necessary qualifications might not necessarily guarantee being able to perform simple but important duties such as corresponding with clients and having a good command of the Maltese language.

Consequently, the success of compulsory education should not only be gauged in terms of certificates but also  in terms of lifelong learning skills. Such approach should not only apply to Maltese but to the entire subjects of the curriculum.