The evolution of physical education training in Malta

The idea of drill and exercise was always on the mind of our mentors in the education system. In fact, way back in 1947 when the first Teachers’ training College was conceived, drill was part of the time-table and the then student teachers had their first lessons with Mr N. Clarke on the roof of a small country house in St Julian’s Bay. They soon moved to a safer place - the road opposite the building.

In 1955 St Michael's Training College for men moved to Ta' Giorni and the Mater Admirabilis training College for women was established at Rabat. Mr John Scerri and Ms Munroe respectively taught Physical Education which by then could be taken as a special field of study. Through the Commonwealth Scheme, Mr Carm Borg and Mr Louis Borg were sent to the UK for further studies in PE, the former to Loughborough and the latter to Carnegie College in Leeds. This marked a very important development and the subject started to earn a lot of respect.

On their return to Malta, Mr C. Borg was appointed Organiser of PE in the Education Department while Mr L. Borg after teaching for two years at a Secondary School for boys, was later appointed A/Lecturer at the then newly established Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (Polytechnic). With the transfer of the teachers’ Colleges to the New University (ex Polytechnic) the subject continued being taken as a special field of study. In 1978, teachers’ training was established as a Faculty at the University of Malta and in 1980 the first group of PE student teachers graduated.

As the Faculty of Education expanded PE took the form of a Programme within the same Faculty and its main mission was to prepare prospective teachers to teach PE in our schools. In 1996 the Academy of Sport replaced the Programme of PE and moved for a time away from the Faculty of Education. It started various contacts and continued its mission of preparing future PE teachers. Having piloted PE since its inception at the University, Mr Louis Borg was appointed as the first Director of the Academy and within a year, in 1997, a protocol between the Istituto Superiore Statale di Educazione Fisica (ISEF) and the Academy of PE and Sport was signed.

In 2001 in collaboration with the Malta Sports Council, the Academy, for the first time, organised a course on the fundamentals of Coaching in an effort to harmonise Certification of coaching in Malta. Forty seven students participated. Reorganisation within the University again reintegrated the Academy of PE and Sport with the Faculty of Education. This move helped to put PE on a sounder footing within the education system by introducing PE as one of the examined subjects in the Secondary Education Certificate (SEC). In 2002 PE made a breakthrough in this field and the subject was included. This was indeed a milestone.

After this success the Institute of PE and Sport was established and the first meeting of the Board was held on the 3 of April 2003 with Dr Michael Aquilina as its head. Dr Andrew Decelis succeeded Dr Michael Aquilina after the latter passed away in March 2010.

The objectives of the Institute are various. Apart from the provision of Certificate, Diploma and Degree courses, its brief is to carry out monodisciplinary and multidisciplinary research, organise conferences and develop national and international links related to Physical Education and Sport. The Institute has also developed a close relationship with SportMalta.

International Links with Stranmillis College and St Mary’s College, Queen’s University of Belfast, N. Ireland; University Institute of Motor Sciences (IUSM), Rome, Italy are now on a sound and regular footing. Other contacts with Universities and Colleges in the UK, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Holland and Denmark are being formulated. The Institute is also a member of various international federations.