A forum running from 2nd – 16th July encouraging discussion amongst teachers around the world on how to promote inclusion and equality in teacher practices. Sign up and get involved.
Japan has long been regarded as one of the world’s educational superpowers. In the post-war era, life expectancy and high-school attendance soared, for example between 1947 and 2006, University attendance increased from 10% to 49%. In 2014, Japan can viably say it is counted as one of the most advanced nation on Earth. Japan consistently ranks among the highest in PISA tests.
However, there have been concerns lately that Japan is losing its innovative ‘edge’, one argument for this has been that Japan has simply been following an educational formula established in the west and now that it has cracked and surpassed that formula, it is left with little room for improvement. There is the concern that Japan’s current educational system prepares children excellently for university and higher education but does little to prepare them for business and life.
One of Japan’s fundamental principles is that ‘all children can be achievers’ and this is echoed in the fact that social background seems to have little impact on educational outcomes. However, as the Japanese government now tries to devolve authority over schools to local authorities, it is essential that they also pass equity reforms that ensure the best teachers and leaders are recruited and incentivised into schools that need the extra boost and help.
As mentioned, Japan will need to redesign its curriculum to make it more engaging, appealing and relevant to pupils. While this is an area where Japan has made significant advances, it still lags behind other world leaders. Shifting from subject-based curricula to competency-based curricula will allow for a far more applicable and broad educational teaching experience for Japanese children.
Beyond just the issue of curricula, Japan must focus on how teachers will deliver it. If Japan is to continue delivering high and higher standards while changing its curricula, staff must be properly trained on how to use and engage with it. Teacher must also learn to encourage long-term sustainable learning for life, rather than treating children as cattle in preparation for exams and the temporary, situational knowledge that they entail.
Today is EfA Day 2014 and pupils all around the United Kingdom are doing all sorts of different activities to raise awareness about the serious issue of global education.
Whitehall Infant School in Uxbridge did a non-uniform day and raised money for their partner school in Nepal:
Cherbourg school in Eastleigh had a great morning and mate an animated video about Education for All (which we’ll be putting up next week). Here’s a picture of Cherbourg’s schools council:
Director Mary Sinnott and Fundraising Coordinator Nick Evans visited Orchard Primary School. Their year 3 pupils wrote letters to David Cameron explaining why global education is such an important issue and used no technology like PC’s or whiteboards (or even lights!). Year 6 and reception pupils took a mile-long walk during school hours to know what it would be like to take a long walk to school.
This is her story of how the day went:
It was a cold, wet and a windy day which made it hard going with strong headwinds throughout the run. Halstead countryside was beautiful and the support from locals cheering us on really helped. I was really proud to run for my running club Phoenix Striders and celebrate this event, which has been going for twenty years and is one of Britain’s top 5 marathons.
I enjoyed the run although it was hard. At twenty miles my time was 3:09:00 but it took me longer to last six miles as knee was playing up, but I ran the whole 26.2 miles.
Thinking of the Foundation really helped in those last six miles and kept me going, know I was helping children around the world get access to a quality education motivated me to keep going. I finally finished the run in 4:32:00.
If you or anyone you know would like to be a champion of global education then please get in touch with our Fundraising Coordinator Nick at email@example.com
‘Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory.’
Article 26, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
Education was declared a fundamental human right over 60 years ago and yet we still face a situation where 57 million children globally don’t even have access to a place of learning, let alone to opportunity of a quality education. In 1990, 150 countries around the world committed to the world declaration on Education for All (EfA) and 10 years later in Dakar, Senegal, the 6 goals of EfA were established and set to last until 2015.
Number 4 of those goals was:
‘Achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults’
However, as of September 2013, there were still 773.5 million illiterate adults globally, in countries such as Guinea total adult literacy only stands at 25%. There is also a worrying trend of female literacy trailing behind men’s, for example, in Afghanistan, female literacy is three times lower than male literacy. While this is probably the starkest contrast of any nation, the trend exists in the majority of developing countries.
The current youth literacy rate stands at 89.5% meaning there are still 123.2 million children unable to read. Literacy is arguably the most fundamental skill children in developing countries need. Being able to read and write sparks communication which sparks dialogue which is what is needed for young people to discuss and debate the issues in their countries so that they can make the changes they want to see independently.
The proposed framework suggests all young people (15-24) should be fully literate by 2025 and that all adults (15+) should be literate by 2030. Again these seem like well-meaning and well-intentioned aspirations but the real questions lies in the ‘how?’.
The upcoming Fund the Future GCE replenishment fund will see the GCE/GPE relying heavily on the private sector and governmental organisations such as DFID to fund the plans for global education crafted by the NGOs and charities in the GPE. To guarantee maximum investment and ROI, achievable, realistic targets with proper monitoring and evaluation will be necessary to assuage the fears and doubts of corporate and governmental backers.
One of the new targets of the education SDG is that by 2025, all children are taught by qualified teachers. This was a serious oversight of MDG2 and it is good to see the new framework incorporating targets that the Steve Sinnott Foundation has been addressing in its projects, particularly in Sierra Leone.
There have been many reports of not just teacher shortages impeding MDG2 but also under-qualified teachers in positions that are not suitable for them. These teachers’ lack of education and qualification means they are not respected or taken seriously by local government and policy makers. In countries with quality education structures, educators often inform practice and procedure. Experience-based and qualitative research is integral to sound educational policy-making.
The Steve Sinnott Foundation’s Project Sierra Leone took place in 2011 brought 12 teacher trainers from Sierra Leone to the UK. The project gave them a 10-day course including teacher-shadowing and workshops on curriculum design, classroom planning and pedagogy. When these teachers returned to Sierra Leone, they began to train a new generation of quality teacher. To date, the project has trained 230 new teachers who have gone on the improve the quality of education and enhance the school experience for 7000 children.
The Foundation will hopefully be repeating this project in 2014.
Following mounting pressure and 2015 being just around the corner, the Global Campaign for Education has released its framework for the education sustainable development goal (SDG). The SDG’s have been proposed as a continuation/improvement on the flawed Millennium Development 2 (MDG2) and Education for All goals. The SDG framework for education post-2015 addresses some of the issues found in MDG2 but is not without its flaws. This blog series will seek to break down the proposed framework.
Net enrolment still being used as a target: Perhaps the most discussed and criticised indicator of MDG2 was its use of net enrolment into a course of basic education for all children globally as an indicator of success. We have seen time and time again that enrolment is not indicative of learning. While there are 57 million children globally out of education, 250 million cannot read or write, that means that there are almost 200 million children who are enrolled but are not learning.
The GCE has once again incorporated net enrolment into the SDG for education. Specifically, for all children globally to be enrolled in education by 2020. Beyond the aforementioned issues of using net enrolment as a target, it simply seems unfeasible to reach universal enrolment by 2020. When the MDGs were established in 2000, 102 million children were out of education, in 2011, 57 million remained out of education. While this may seem like significant progress, it is not representative of the entire world. The majority of this enrolment has been in Asia, specifically China and India while in Nigeria, 4.7 million children are still out of education.
With this in mind, it seems very unlikely that progress toward universal enrolment will continue at the same rate as it did for the first 11 years of MDG2. The unrealistic targets that continually keep being set for global education seem to act as more of a hindrance than as an impetus for action.