Book Censorship – Ministry Report a Victory for Rationality – Mario Azzopardi

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Source: The Malta Independent Online – By Francesca Vella

All Saints Catholic Secondary School Entrance.

Author Mario Azzopardi has welcomed the conclusions of a government report that found his book − Vampir u rakkonti oħra, which had been banned from government secondary school libraries − should be considered as a book that provokes and stimulates discussion, and that exposes young people to various realities they could come across.

Contacted by The Malta Independent on Sunday, Mr Azzopardi comments, “I applaud the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report. The Ministry has been spot on in publishing it as promised.

“It represents not only a victory for rationality but recognises the value of thought provoking literature for young adults. The report endorses the need for a kind of literature that does not just tickle the imagination for escapist, frivolous entertainment but engages young people to examine their own reactions to harsh realities.”

Following the recent controversy over the book’s removal from certain government secondary school libraries, Education Minister Dolores Cristina has accepted the recommendations made by a working group tasked with analysing Mario Azzopardi’s Vampir u rakkonti oħra.

The book was evaluated by a working group consisting of Trevor Zahra (chairperson), Children’s Commissioner Helen D’Amato, Sandra Cortis and Mario Schiavone.

In its report, the group noted that the book includes certain explicit language, and dubious and negative messages. But the majority of those forming part of the working group felt that this is a book young people should not be hindered from reading.

Literature is not only a learning tool but, more importantly, the report said its purpose is to provoke thought.

After analysing the discussion, three people in the working group agreed that the book should be available to young people in the fourth and fifth year of secondary school, but one of the people in the group was not convinced.

Mr Azz-opardi adds, “Nowadays it is a given that changes in society, the mass media and social networking have pushed young adults to mature earlier and this should be reflected in a country’s literary output.

“We should foster a literature that proposes factual and interpretative information in the light of such unprecedented changes. It must be a literature that does not shy away from adolescent problems and concerns and which could lead to a significant dialogue between young people and adults, be they parents, relatives, cultural workers, youth agencies or educators.

“The report in question makes an important defence for literature as a powerful agent for new perspectives and intellectual maturation. It makes clear the fact that reactionary responses to coming-of-age literature are entirely out of place today and should not compromise the mental development of the young.”

With respect to the classification of books in secondary schools, the group agreed that there needs to be a group of professionals or people with knowledge of the sector, to classify books. In this way, the classification will be based on different perspectives. At present, books are classified by the Schools’ Library Services.

The group also recommended that there should also be a number of young people to give their opinion on the perspective of people their age.

Moreover, books should be organised in libraries according to the different age group of students, and students should receive guidance from libraries depending on their age and level of maturity.

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