The Leader of the Opposition tries to bum a free private education for his children

Published: April 12, 2010 at 11:38pm
Nahseb it-tifel kiber wisq biex indahhluh fil-lotterija tal-knisja, Mich.

Nahseb it-tifel kiber wisq biex indahhluh fil-lotterija tal-knisja, Mich.

This is one item you won’t be reading on Maltastar or hearing about on Super One.

‘Joseph and Michelle’ entered their two daughters’ names in today’s lottery for places in church schools (biex nibghatuhom is-Sekret HaRRRRt).

Their names weren’t picked out in the lucky draw, but were read out along with the several hundred other no-wins. Here’s one reason why the leader and his wife should have chosen less conspicuous names for their twins.

When the gathered throng heard the names ‘Soleil Muscat’ and ‘Etoile Muscat’ read out, there was loud muttering.

The gist of the muttering reflects my own thoughts precisely: you would think that the Leader of the Opposition and his wife are more than able to afford the expense involved in sending their daughters to a fee-paying private school.

Are they really so cheap that they’re trying to have a go at bumming a private school education for free (times two), and so tacky that they think nothing of taking up two places that can be used by others when they can well afford to send their daughters elsewhere (and fee-paying schools are better anyway)?

40 Comments Comment

  1. Cannot Resist Anymore! says:

    Daphne, why is it that the pictures you post on this blog seem to take a life of their own?

    Mich looks like she is in her third month. L-Akbar Zib is wearing a hubris suicide bomb and is about to blow himself up to smithereens with fun and well, as for the sacrificial lamb and martyr on their side, his demeanour says it all, and I say it in French to be polite: leche cul!

  2. Chicken says:

    Milli jidher, il-Leader tal-Oppozizzjoni, dak li jahseb li hu lest biex isir Prim Ministru, baqa’ b’idu f’idu.

  3. tat TWO NEWS says:

    Tal PL baqghu progressivi, jigieldu biex irahhsulhom id-dawl u l-ilma tal-popolin, igibulhom lura ir-registration tax tal-karozza, w allura issa ser ikollhom biex ihallsu ghall-iskola.

    Allura x’fiha issa jekk ahna l-irjus niehdu l-perks fejn nistghu u ndefsu it-tfal taghna fl-iskola b’xejn flok xi tnejn ta’ hadd iehor li forsi ma jiflahx ihallas?

    Heqq! Wara kollox mhux dejjem hekk kienu tal-Labour – kullhadd l-istess, imma some are more equal than others.

  4. H.P. Baxxter says:

    Hmm. Tricky. The Muscats are damned either way. If they had decided to send the kiddies to an independent school they’d have been accused of rank snobbery.

    But these are just distractions. What I’m really worried about is that look in Muscat’s eyes. This photo. The fireplace. The royal couple plus party martyr. That LOOK. The only way to develop that facial expression is a lifetime of having it your way. That’s the most disturbing thing about our future prime minister.

    • Isard du Pont says:

      If Tony and Cherie did the expensive, elitist school thing, Joseph and Michelle can do so too. Putting your children in a lottery when you’re the Leader of the Opposition is damned tacky.

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        Yes but Tony Blair was schooled at Fettes College. Joseph Muscat went to St. Aloy- hang on a minute!

  5. Samantha says:

    Daphne, jien nahseb li la darba jhallas it-taxxi ghandu dritt jiehu chance bhal haddiehor. Forsi dejjem xtaqu li jdahhluhom is-Sacred Heart.

    Dal-pajjiż ma jikkunpensakx meta ma tiehux mir-rizorsi tieghu. Jien dejjem baghat lil uliedi fi skejjel privata u dejjem uzajt sptarijiet privati kemm ghalija u ghal familti.

    Dejjem xtrajt il-medicina li kelli bzonn u ghalkemm inhallas it-taxxi daqs u izjed minn haddiehor u qatt ma hadd xejn minn tal-Gvern qatt ma mqar ircivejt apprezzament ghal dan. Illum forsi jiddispjacini li m’ghamiltx bhal haddiehor ghax kien jibqali kemxa gmiela fil-but.

    • Chris Ripard says:

      Sewwa qed tghid, Samantha. Iggilidna ghall-ghazla ghal kulhadd, Joseph Muscat & family inkluzi (erhila l-ironija li l-partit tieghu ried johnoqha l-ghazla). Rigward li mort privat f’kollox, heqq, dik ukoll ghazla tieghek kienet. Pero’ naqbel li ghandu jkun hemm incentivi ghal min jiehu edukazzjoni, servizzi ta’ sahha, pensjoni ecc privat.

    • PhiliP says:

      @ Samantha, insejt meta l-partit ta’ Joseph ried jaghlaq l-iskejjel privati, jew kont ghadek fi guf ommok? Issa kollox sew ghall-iskejjel privati?

      Ghax ma jghidux qatta oqbra mbajda u ma tistax tafdhom ghax illum ghidu moghod u ghada jghidu mod iehor.

    • Timotius says:

      Dear Samantha, you have every right to your opinion and I respect that. But come on. Daphne is right. There are thousands of people, even according to Muscat himself, who are in dire need of financial or other help. And then he himself attempts to take two places at a church school for his own children, when he can afford the fees at an independent school?

      • Claudette says:

        Nahseb kollha nies li ma jifilhux ihallsu skola privata jippruvaw jiktbu lit-tfal taghhom fi skola tal-knisja!

      • Ray says:

        Actually, they went on a ‘tour’ of private schools before entering them into the lottery.
        Most probably, they did not like any of them (strange thing surely.. but nothing is normal when it comes to the Muscats).

        [Daphne – Quite frankly, I think they did what many other parents do who can afford a fee-paying school but want to chance their luck at saving some money: enter them into the church schools lottery, and if they don’t come up, put their names down for a fee-paying school.]

  6. Stephen Spiteri says:

    Are you sure fee paying schools are better? Sure? Sure? Really?

    [Daphne – Positive. I’m talking about the coed ones here, because that’s a crucial part of a child’s education. Better an academically average mixed school than an academically superior single-sex school. Whether you have six or 12 O-levels will eventually make no difference to your life, but the lessons you don’t learn in a single-sex environment definitely will. Children should be socialised in a mixed-gender environment. Single-sex schools are bad news, whatever the purely academic aspects. And independent schools tend not to adopt the doctrinaire approach of church-run schools, too, which is a good thing as it helps pupils open their minds rather than parrot things.]

    • Chris Ripard says:

      Agree 101% and the evidence is empirical.

    • hight says:

      Actually, Daphne, there is no research to back your argument. I think government schools have the best teachers and resources. Teachers usually choose to work in a government school first.

      [Daphne – Yes, there is: the results. Nobody has ever left a private school illiterate and/or innumerate, and it’s not because of family background. There are all sorts in private schools, including children who are completely neglected and ignored by their parents.]

      With regards to private school it is quite well known that they usually employ more unqualified staff than do church or governmental schools. I personally would definitely not choose a Maltese private school for my children at this point in time.

      • guza says:

        I wouldn’t generalise… There ARE students attending private schools who are quasi illiterate and/or innumerate (they would probably be completely illiterate were it not for texting).

      • Ray says:

        Well, you can always search for statistics and see which school leavers get the best grades. This, notwithstanding the fact that all school-leavers of private schools have a much wider social experience than those who went to state schools.

  7. B Galea says:

    Muscat, as is the case with most politicians, was caught between a rock and a hard place. Let’s say he wins the election and becomes prime minister…if his children attend a private school, the media will argue that it’s a vote of no confidence in the state school system; if they apply for a place in a church school, then he’s ‘cheap’ and robbing a less well-off child of a place in the system.

    Personally, I think that politicians’ children should never be used as a political football. Regardless of one’s politics or profession, nobody ought to make decisions about their children based on political considerations. Sniping comments such as this (and don’t get me wrong – journalists have been calling politicians up on their childrens’ schooling for decades, so you’re hardly the first to do so) only serve to further propagate the tabloid media culture we’ve grown used to, in which everything is fair game.

    [Daphne – You are being disingenuous and failing to distinguish between 1. the children, and 2. the decisions their Leader of the Opposition father takes in their regard. Those decisions are relevant to his public life because they give insight to his personality, his aspirations, and his way of thinking. A politician can’t call himself progressive and then send his children to a church school, where the last thing they will get is a progressive education. The only progressive form of education in Malta, based on progressive thinking, is available at coeducational independent schools, not church schools. Joseph Muscat’s decision to send his children to church schools reveals that he is actually conservative. You have to be very conservative indeed to want to have your children schooled in that kind of environment.]

    • B Galea says:

      And I’m the one being disingenuous?

      Come off it Daphne, we all know that if Muscat had decided to send his children to a private school, he’d have been in the media dock anyway.

      [Daphne – Not at all. I would applaud him for making the same choice I did. If you are really progressive in your outlook, you have no choice but to send your children to a coed independent school, if you can pay for it, as Joseph and Michelle Muscat can. I would never applaud them for sending their children to a state school. On the contrary, I would diss them for putting political appearances before the best interests of their children, who will be better off at an independent school than at a state school. Anyway, I am about to surprise you with some more news.]

      I went to one of Malta’s most progressive (and ridiculously expensive) private schools myself, and would send my children to a mixed-gender private school (if I had any), so I’m not calling you up in that regard.

      But politicians, as you well know, must often make personal decisions based on the optics of that decision, rather than its own merits – and media sniping such as this simply perpetuates this vicious cycle of style over substance. If politicians’ private lives were left well alone (as happens, to a degree, in France), then we would all benefit.

      [Daphne – I happen to disagree with you on that. One example: if Dom Mintoff had been exposed at the time for the horny old bugger he was, who kept his wife in a state of poverty and deprivation while cheating on her with sundry women including, most notoriously, his brother’s wife, then he would have been treated as rather less of a minor deity by the super-conservative working-classes and we would all have been a lot happier and better off instead of enduring those years of misery and setbacks. The same goes for George Borg Olivier. If the news that his wife had had a baby by a priest – in 1970, as I recall – while he took his mistress Dawn Adams to parties and slept over at her house in Naxxar had been broken in the national press, leading to his removal before the 1971 general election, we wouldn’t have had Mintoff at all. He won that election by the narrowest of margins, and then look what happened.]

      Oh, and by the way – having spent half my school years in various schools across Europe, and the other half in a Maltese private school, I can tell you that even Malta’s most ‘progressive’ schools are risible compared to their European counterparts.

      Other than mixed gender classrooms, a few more outings and school trips and a better equipped art/music room, there is very little that is genuinely progressive about these schools. For an impressionable 13 year old just arriving from a private school in Vienna, the ‘progressive private school’ I attended seemed to be like almost Victorian in its thinking and pedagogy.

      [Daphne – I agree with you there.]

      While there is a lot to be said for mixed-gender education, please don’t fool yourself into thinking that private schools in Malta are some sort of intellectual holy grail. The number of nigh-on illiterate ignoramuses in my year ran into the several dozen.

      • B Galea says:

        Just a quick note – my reference to “politicians’ private lives” shouldn’t be construed as some sort of barbed reference to the whole Magistrate affair. When private lives influence public affairs, the public interest must prevail. But where an individual chooses to send their children to school ought to be down to the parents, and nobody else.

  8. jae says:

    Parents have the right to send their children to whichever school they think is best for them. Joseph Muscat went to a church school and apparently believes that a church school is best for his children.

    I too went to a church school. Fortunately, my children attend church schools. My wife and I believe that our children are most likely to embrace the values which we hold dear if they attend church schools.

    [Daphne – Ah, but that’s just the point. Those are NOT progressive values. I and my husband, on the other hand, both went to church schools and swore that our children would never be subjected to the same experience, nor to gender-segregated education at an independent school like St Edward’s.]

    It is not about the money. It is not about religion. It is not even about academic achievement although obviously that is important.

    It is about values. Contrary to what you suggest, Daphne, the church schools I am familiar with do not indoctrinate children.

    [Daphne – The indoctrination is subtle. It is all about conforming. That’s why the children who come out of church schools in their vast majority can’t think out of that ruddy box: because they have been trained NOT to think. You have to be really bloody minded to survive the system.]

    What other people think about church schools and fee-paying schools were irrelevant to us when we came to make choices for our children.

    There is a donation that is paid to church schools. We pay it willingly and we support as best as we can activities of church schools, including those involving fund raising.

    This is not about politics. Like you Daphne, I am convinced that the PN have the best team to govern this country. This conclusion is based on present and past records of both PN and PL.

    This notwithstanding, I believe that people should avoid making judgements on decisions which Mr. and Mrs. Muscat make for their children. Like other parents, they have the right to try to send their children to a school of their choice.

    [Daphne – Yes, and the rest of us have a right to discuss that decision and what it says about the Leader of the Opposition and his wife. It says that they are conservative, not progressive. But I knew that already. Most mittilkless people are very conservative in every area of their lives except sexual relationships, because they are at only one generation’s remove from the working-class, and the working-class is the most doggedly conservative stratum of society.]

  9. s.said says:

    Didn’t former Minister Mugliett get a STEPS scholarship?

    [Daphne – And didn’t I criticise the fact?]

    And quite a few children of PN MPs and former MPs obtain scholarships so come on Daphne lets call a spade a spade

  10. Anthony Briffa says:

    I don’t know where this photo was taken, either at the residence of the dear leader or at some historical palace, but the least the two men in the picture could have done is allow Mrs Muscat to stay in the middle. They have no clue about how to be polite with a woman. But I forgot that Mrs. Muscat is always holding the rear.

  11. Albert Farrugia says:

    ..and if Joseph Muscat had intended to send his children to a private school, then, of course, he would be accused of wanting to show to all and sundry that he is in the mittelkless. Don’t we know the PN script by heart now?

    [Daphne – The mittilkless and the middle class are not the same thing. The independent schools, you should know, are where the mittelkless are now flocking to send their children, because the church schools, thanks to the lottery system are full of the working-class, and the mittilkless don’t like this. And so on it goes. It’s just not very progressive to send your children to a nuns’ school, is it.]

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      The upper class just send their children to UK boarding schools. Best gift you can ever make to your children.

      [Daphne – I completely disagree. Home life has to be miserable indeed for a child to prefer boarding school.]

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        I’m not sure. I knew a couple of kids at my school who were whisked off to UK boarding schools, and they’ve since become successful millionaires. This was in secondary school though, not primary.

        Where does one send one’s children? Even St Edwards has gone to ratshit, and the independent schools are full to the gunwales with the nouveax riches’ offspring. By the way, had Muscat stayed on as MEP, he could have sent his kids to one of the exclusive European schools, where children are practising something like four languages by the time they’re five.

  12. H.P. Baxxter says:


  13. L Frendo says:

    I agree that most church schools are not very progressive in their way of thinking or teaching. I also tend to agree that a parent’s decision to send his/her children to this sort of school reflects that parent’s own outlook and values.

    However, I don’t agree with the argument that the Muscats’ decision was wrong (or significant in any way) on the grounds that they tried ‘to bum a free private eduction for [their] children’.

  14. Fay says:

    Even though I can afford any kind of schooling for my children, I would never dream of sending them to a private school. I know of quite a few Edwardians who have obtained no O levels.

    The problem with private schools is that anyone who can afford them can send his kids there, as can quite a few of the uneducated shopowners/businessmen in my locality.

    On the other hand, the people who care about their children’s education send them to church schools, because that is where they will learn values.

    [Daphne – I cared a great deal about my children’s education and still do, which is why we are supporting them all the way through their postgraduate education overseas which is no small matter when you consider that there are three of them doing so concurrently. And that is precisely why we – my husband, having gone to St Aloysius, was of the same opinion – didn’t hesitate for a minute in taking the decision to send them to San Anton School, even though it had no track record at the time because it was just a couple of years old when we put their names down on the waiting-list two weeks after the third child was born. I was determined that they would never go to a single-sex school or to a school run by priests and nuns. This is not because of abuse – there wasn’t any that I knew of – but because a religious school, by definition, cannot teach the most important values of all: free thought, an open mind and responsible citizenship based on secular, humane values rather than religious ones. I wanted them to be decent rather than thinking in terms of ‘sin’. Values learned through religion are ditched with religion. I think we are all seeing that now in our contemporaries, who started their mid-life crisis at 35 and apparently don’t plan on stopping until they drop dead.]

    Also, children in church schools compete academically while children in private schools compete financially over whose dad has the largest boat, biggest pool, fastest car etc.

    [Daphne – That is utter, absolute rubbish. The fee-paying independent schools are packed solid with children whose parents make enormous financial sacrifices to send them there, with the result that there is often little money left over for frivolity.]

    The only thing children seem to learn in a private school is the feeling of superiority over those they think can’t afford their lifestyle. Little do they know that sometimes people choose not to live that lifestyle!

    [Daphne – Wrong again. First, church schools are private schools too because they are not state-owned or state-run. Secondly, if you are referring to independent schools, this is manifest bollocks. Those who come out of the top independent schools are among the best overall performers in the country, academically and in the work-place. They are also very well-socialised, which is crucial in all work environments that do not depend on sole interaction with a computer.]

    I think Joseph Muscat did the right thing by applying through the right paths. Let’s now follow it up and see if his kids mysteriously turn up in a church school a few years down the line.

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      The best school in Malta is Verdala International School, period.

    • Ray says:

      Fay. your comments are absurd. Goes to show you have absolutely no idea how private schools work.

    • Han Solo says:

      I can truly see that many parents are deluded into thinking that by sending their kids to private schools they’ll turn their kids into ‘better material’.

      I’m sorry to burst their bubble, but no amount of ‘quality’ schooling will turn idiocy into genius. I truly pity them, seeing such parents sweating it by working long hours to pay the astronomical fees. They do all this, so they can boast to everyone how ‘better’ their kids are, even if the kids are born failures.

      I received my primary, secondary and tertiary education at government schools and institutions. I am no genius but I have still achieved success in life, both in terms of career and personal satisfaction. So why all this fuss when a government school will do just fine?

      [Daphne – You were fortunate in being born intelligent. Intelligent people do well everywhere, unless they have serious problems on the home front. But if somebody who is not intelligent struggles to achieve four O-levels at a private school, then he will leave a government school with none.]

  15. Camillo Bento says:

    Daph were Dr. Muscat credible one would give him the benefit of doubt that he wants his children to have a Catholic education which is fair enough, lottery or not. But when what he says, what he could think and what he does are juxtaposed it all seems so ominous and horrid.

  16. janine says:

    What the heck is Michelle wearing in this pic? Haven’t these people any fashion consultants?

    Fay – your reasoning regarding church, private schools and values is absolute hogwash – goes to show what kind of mentality you have.

    I think it was rather cheeky of the Muscats to enter the lottery and compete for two places could have been given to a family who really can’t afford a good education for their children.

  17. JAZ says:

    Can’t see how Daphne didn’t see through this one. The Muscat’s of course want to send their children to a private school but in order to avoid the label of snobbery they entered them into the lottery making sure their names would NOT be picked. So now they have a good excuse to send them to a private school.

    Do you honestly believe that if the Muscat’s REALLY wanted to send their children to a church school their names would not have been picked?

    Frankly however I think that none of this is really any of our business whatsoever.

  18. attacked by nuns but still liberal says:

    daphne i adore you – but this article is rubbish.

  19. I’m sure there are devout Catholics about that would prefer a Church School for their children even if they could afford private education.
    What jars is that they want the traditional values = surely not liberal ones.

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