Our college received its first computers back in 1986. We had decided to go for the latest technology, and that September our senior students started the first ‘O’ Level course offered by the college, using 6 brand new Research Machines Nimbus computers – then the latest 16-bit machines on the market.  Computer Science was offered as a core subject from Form 4.

Three years later we installed our first network, which now included 15 workstations in all. Hence in 1989 we could offer the first IT lessons to our third formers, in addition to the ‘O’ Level courses. Soon after, IT lessons became a core subject for all students.

In time we came to realise that the ‘O’ level syllabus was encroaching heavily on the IT lesson time in Form 3; which we regarded as undesirable. Our concern was that all our students be well grounded in basic IT skills, and this led us to re-evaluate the teaching of computing in our college.

The conclusion we came to was that ideally we should offer a well-organised course in IT as a core subject to all our students, whilst offering ‘O’ Level Computer Studies as an option in Form 3. Meanwhile, we came to know about ECDL through the net, and immediately realised the advantages its well-structured modular courses offered. The only snag was that in Malta we could not locate any test centre that could offer the required certification to our students. We still decided to go for it, and in scholastic year 1999/2000 we introduced the new courses to the cohort going up to Form 3 and to their parents, notwithstanding the fact that at the time certification was not available.

In the Easter of 2001, Dr Brian Warrington, of Computer Society Malta, contacted us precisely about introducing ECDL formally in Malta. We explained to him our experience in the field, and after he toured our computing facilities he promptly told us that we, as a College, could immediately apply to become an accredited ECDL test centre. And this we obviously did and on June 30, 2001, the British Computer Society recognised St Paul’s Missionary College as an officially Accredited Test Centre – the first Maltese school in the field.

In May 2002, the cohort that had put faith in this venture 3 years before were rewarded for they became the first ever Maltese students to be awarded the full ECDL licence. ECDL in Malta had taken off, and our Test Centre was soon flooded with requests by applicants from outside our college for the ECDL certification.

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