Navigate Up
Sign In

A Passage to Malta, a Research study on the Health and Wellbeing of Foreign Children in Malta

Data tal-Pubblikazzjoni: Mar 27, 2019
 

Today, the Commissioner for Children, Ms Pauline Miceli, launched the research study entitled A Passage to Malta, a Research study on the Health and Wellbeing of Foreign Children in Malta. The study was commissioned by the Office of the Commissioner for Children and was carried out by the Centre for Resilience and Socio-Emotional Health within the University of Malta.

Recent years have been characterised by large migration flows including both asylum seekers as well as economic migrants. The number of foreign children in Malta has doubled over the last five scholastic years and constitutes 10% of the present school age population. Following other studies on the wellbeing of Maltese children, the need was felt for a study to explore the physical and mental health and wellbeing of foreign children in Malta, their access to services as well as education and inclusion. The study also aimed to examine the attitudes of Maltese children towards foreign children living in Malta.

The study focused on children under the age of 18 who were born in or outside Malta to non-Maltese parents (or one parent in the case of single parents). All foreign children in Malta who could be identified through schools, homes, centres and agencies were invited to participate. This study consisted of four different phases, making use of quantitative and qualitative research designs. The first phase explored school age foreign children’s education and inclusion as well as their health and wellbeing; The second phase was carried out with pre-school children aged between 0 and 3; the third phase was a qualitative analysis of foreign children’s subjective wellbeing in all various aspects of their lives; and the final phase focused on attitudes of Maltese students towards foreign children in Malta. In total, around 2500 foreign and Maltese children participated in the research study.

During the launch, the research team highlighted the main findings of the research study. The study shows that the majority of foreign children in Malta enjoy positive physical and mental health, a high level of resilience and wellbeing, a stable family environment, a good quality of life, positive school experiences, good relationships with teachers and their peers as well as social inclusion. The study shows that foreign children can be a positive influence in the lives of Maltese children, not only in terms of the rich cultural diversity they bring with them, but also in encouraging Maltese peers to adopt healthier lifestyles.

On the other hand, many foreign children are living in overcrowded apartments and centres, struggling with language barriers, have problems when accessing services, have few Maltese friends and have limited open spaces in their community. The study also shows that foreign children in Malta cannot be construed as one heterogeneous group as there are striking differences. Whilst the majority of Maltese children hold positive views of foreign children and multiculturalism, a substantial percentage expressed hesitation and concern about multicultural integration.

Ms Miceli also puts forward her recommendations through this study which she briefly described during the launch. These include: the creation of healthier physical and social spaces for diverse, intercultural communities; the promotion and provision of more accessible, sensitive and inclusive services for foreign children with an inclusive and multilingual educational system; and the removal of spaces which deepen difference and nurture prejudice and discrimination to enable the upcoming Maltese generation to harbour more tolerant, open inclusive attitudes towards cultural diversity and multiculturalism.

Dr Michael Falzon, Minister for the Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity, stated that this study sheds light on the realities of a Maltese cosmopolitan society which brings together different people and therefore we cannot stop foreign influences. The Minister also stated that the Ministry will be analysing the findings of the study in order to keep its policies related to children up to date. 

The research study will be presented during a National Conference taking place on the 10th of April. The full study will be disseminated amongst all stakeholders and will also be made available online on www.tfal.org.mt.​ 

A Passage to Malta press conference.pdfA Passage to Malta press conference.pdf