Ability to speak English

This could not be assessed for the 1996 census. In 1991, 62% of Maltese-speakers claimed the ability to speak English very well, and a further 26% to speak it "well", while 0.9 % aid they could not speak English (Kipp et al 1995 p 61) i.e. the proportion of Maltese-speakers who could speak well or very well was 88%.


By the 1991 census, the majority of children of Maltese-born parents who came to Australia in 1950s and 1960s would have gone through secondary schooling, and therefore the 1991 Census data represent fairly the proportion of youths of Maltese origin who achieved the level of education indicated in the table below which shows that more than 50% of Maltese-origin youths left school by age 16. This figure is the highest for all the major ethnic groups and higher than the Australia average (47.2% for males aged 20-24 years and 56.3% for males aged 25-34 years respectively).

Table 6.1: Proportion of second generation Maltese (Malta-born father) who left school at age 16 or earlier. 1991 Census Data

Age Group



20 - 24



25 - 34



[Source: Census 1991 data (see Birrel & Khoo 1995

It has been stated that even children of Southern European parents are now actually staying longer at school than students of fathers from Australia or the UK.(See Birrel & Khoo,1995 p 4). It has been known for some time of course that children of most other ethnic groups, and including those of other S. European nations (Greeks and Italians) have shown a considerable improvement in the school retention rates. For instance the proportion of the 20-24 year age group who left school by age 16 was only 20.2 % for Greeks and 35.3% for Italians. So one can say that the tendency for Maltese to leave school early was still very evident in the 1991 census data.

As for other ethnic groups, the retention rate for female students is slightly better, but as in the case of males, it is also the worst of all ethnic groups.

By comparison, in 1986 census, the proportion of students who left school by age 16 was 56.3%, - not significantly different from the 1991 census - see Cauchi 1990 p t50). This seems to imply that there was no major improvement in retention rates for Maltese during this inter-census period.

Highest qualification obtained

Birrel & Khoo (1995 p 6) analysing the 1991 census states that: "there are still high proportions of the second generation aged 25 - 34 years who do not hold any post-school qualifications. This is the case for nearly 50 per cent of males and 60 per cent of females of Australian, British or Maltese origin".

As mentioned earlier (Chapter 3), there is a strong correlation between the proportion of persons in 1st and 2nd generation with a tertiary education, indicating that the education level reached by children is influenced quite significantly by that of the parents. The parental level of education is seen as one important factor in predicting whether children will continue on with a tertiary education.

Trade (Vocational) qualification

It has to be noted that as for 1986 censuses (Cauchi 1990), the 1991 census shows that the proportion of 2nd generation males with a vocational qualification (36.9%) is one of the highest for any ethnic group. The same cannot be said for Maltese 2nd generation females however, with a vocational qualification rate of only 8.7%

As with other aspects investigated, the more recent survey (Cauchi 1999) showed a more optimistic picture, with 20.6% of the second generation claiming to have a profession. If this turns out to be correct it could possibly mean that the younger members of the second generation are more mobile than the older members who are also included within the category of 'second generation' for census analysis. This would presumably become more clear in the next census.

Source: Maurice N.Cauchi - The Maltese Migrant Experience, Malta 1999

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