500 Days for Education

We stand now at approximately 500 days from the initial target date for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals set in 1990.

These goals represent the most ambitious shared aspirations of humanity the modern world ever assembled. As we take measure now of the successes and shortfalls of this global effort, redouble our efforts for real, sustained progress in these final 500 days, and establish the framework for beyond 2015, I am inspired by what has been achieved and worried about what comes next.

Because of the Institute for International Education’s special focus on widening access to higher education and our research on global trends in tertiary academic mobility, we think the post-2015 development agenda needs to be prepared to take account of MDG 1’s success.

More students than ever are going to be ready for secondary and then higher education in the period ahead, but the capacity of most national systems to meet this demand is likely to be quite limited. Per capita investment in tertiary education in many countries is actually declining and only a few countries today have room for substantially more students in their institutions of higher education. Research is also consistently showing that OpenCourseWare and MOOCs are no substitute for university education.

The world will need to build more tertiary education capacity and also be more open. The costs will be high. But the costs of having the generation who benefited so much from the first MDGs join armed militias instead of going on to further schooling will be infinitely higher.

For now, we are heartened by increasing global access to education at the primary level, now at 90 percent enrollment globally. Still, there are nearly 60 million children of primary school age not enrolled. A final 500-day push — essentially two more academic enrolment periods — should raise us to greater than 90 percent, but those last 10 percent will be the hardest to enroll. We applaud the achievement of reaching greater gender equity in primary education, though we lament we are far from such equity beyond the primary level. In fact, it is movement beyond the primary level that is absolutely essential as we consider the next set of MDGs.

In today’s global economy, a primary education is not sufficient to avoid extreme poverty. Secondary and tertiary educations, both academic and technical or vocational, are vital rungs on the ladder leading out of extreme poverty. Educational access at all levels (primary, secondary, higher, and vocational) must therefore be supported. Creating opportunities and institutional infrastructures that will enable students to transition successfully from primary and secondary school to tertiary education must be a central tenet of the global education agenda.

Educational access, equity and quality of education are paramount to ensuring that students can fulfill their full potential.

Access to tertiary education is integral to the success of individual persons and nations in the 21st century. With increasing global labor market demands for specialized knowledge and advanced technology skills, tertiary education will become more important than ever to sustained social and economic development. Higher education plays an essential role in achieving other global priorities: the eradication of poverty and hunger; improving maternal and child health; increasing gender equality and the empowerment of women; combatting pandemic diseases; and ensuring environmental sustainability.

At IIE, we pay close attention to the relationship between higher education and international development. We partner with governments, international development agencies, foundations, universities and corporations, leveraging its international networks to collaborate on sustainable solutions for long-term development. Our work focuses on three things:

1. Educational and technical training and exchange programs.

2. Widening access to education and training of women, especially through science and technology programs.

3. Supporting students, scholars, and higher education in countries in crisis, post-conflict, and transition.

For example, we are now piloting the Higher Education Readiness program to provide 200 girls in Ethiopia with the resources to not only complete secondary education but also to access higher education. With only a tiny percentage of Ethiopian girls now in university, this small pilot has the potential to make a big difference.

We support the conclusions of the U.N. High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which recommends the post-2015 framework for sustainable development “recognize peace and good governance as core elements of wellbeing, not optional extras.” IIE was founded in 1919 in the post-World War I era by scholars and statesmen who recognized that opening minds to the world through international scholarships and student and scholar exchanges would increase global understanding and peacebuilding. Over the past 95 years we have supported hundreds of thousands of such scholarships and exchanges in partnership with governments, foundations, corporations and other organizations. We have seen firsthand how these individuals have returned to their countries of origin to build bridges of understanding and improve good governance. Many of these individuals have also contributed to educational excellence and building educational capacity in their home countries, drawing on the knowledge and connections they developed in labs and classrooms in the United States.

The HLP also calls for forging a new global partnership “based on a common understanding of our shared humanity, underpinning mutual respect and mutual benefit in a shrinking world.” We feel strongly at IIE that our model of working with academia, governments, civil society, international corporations and foundations to support greater access to education and training and more international exchange experiences is consistent with this call for a new global partnership. Only a continued, concerted effort by all these partners will be enough to make the final 500-day push significant, and to ensure the post-2015 agenda is responsive to the needs of our new millennium.  In IIE’s experience, increasing access to higher education will be absolutely essential to meeting these needs.

There is much to celebrate. A global reduction of extreme poverty by half in 15 years is a remarkable, unprecedented achievement. Yet, the spirit of the MDGs requires that we make these final 500 days count in whatever sectors we focus our efforts. And all of us, partners in sustainable development, must commit to a post-2015 development agenda that recommits to achieving the as yet unreached MDG targets, and builds on past successes to take us to the next level of sustainable development. The IIE is proud to join these efforts and to do our part.

Education is the best way any of us have to make the world we share a less dangerous place.

Aug. 18, 2014, marked the 500-day milestone until the target date to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Join Devex, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, to raise awareness of the progress made through the MDGs and to rally to continue the momentum. Check out our Storify page and tweet us using #MDGmomentum.

Original article by

Allan goodman

Allan Goodman President of the IoE, USA.

Advertisements

Our Fundraising Coordinator is running Tough Mudder, sponsor him today!


Our Fundraising Coordinator, Nick, will be running through hoops of fire, jumping into freezing waters and getting shocked by 10,000V wires, all for the sake of universal access to primary education.

Any and all donations are greatly, appreciated, you can sponsor him here. DONATE.

Here he is, posing rather vainly!

sddsd

Childrens’ right education is a serious global issue and the Steve Sinnott Foundation is working tirelessly to provide access to quality education for young people around the world. Please sponsor Nick and help children gain access to school.

Teachers For EFA

http://www.teachersforefa.unesco.org/fora/

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 faces new challenges

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.

EfA Day 2014!

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:

classreduced

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:

IMG_0956

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.

Teacher Tuesday Week 6: Cees from The Netherlands

cees7Until now, Teacher Tuesday has focused on countries that are still developing and learning how to produce good teaching structures and what is conducive to an effective educational system.

So today we observe the other end of the spectrum. Not only what are triumphs of teachers, schools and systems in the worlds’ most ‘successful’ countries in terms of education but also what problems are they facing? This week, we spoke to Cees, a history teacher from the Netherlands.

Dutch pupils are consistently among the highest performers in the Organisation for Economic Collaboration and Development’s (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) with 15-year-olds scoring higher than average in literacy, mathematics and science.

I find it difficult to answer why the Netherlands are doing so well because what do grades mean?” – …To which countries did you compare?’ Is Cees’ first reaction when he is confronted with the statistics regarding exceptional performance in Dutch schools.

There are a number of reasons Dutch and North American/Western European education are successful, including:

Class sizes: Cess teaches several classes with an average size of 26. Many studies have shown that smaller, more focused classes are integral to a well-structured learning environment. This stands in opposition to the stories of Margaret and

Professional Development: Every year, Dutch teachers have to fill out a professional self-assessment, therein they have to set out their points for development and goals. Their head teacher goes through this with them and puts them on development courses tailored to their specific needs. Cees says ‘A teacher can spend anywhere between 5-10% of their work time on professional development’. By investing in its teachers, the Dutch education system is providing quality teaching for its students.

Feedback from pupils: All Dutch teachers are formally evaluated by their pupils. This accountability forms part of the basis for their professional development and constant self-improvement.

Pupil-centralism: Much of the Dutch education system is pupil-centric where pupils are in charge of their own education journey and teachers teach cooperation, self-motivation and how to learn as well as the topic they cover.

These are just a few examples of strengths within the Dutch education system. However, it is not without its own criticisms. There is an internal argument that this education system is ‘too standardised and designed to do well in international rankings such as PISA but which does little to address the needs of the individual pupil.’

This notion is exemplified by OperationEducation, an organisation in the Netherlands dedicated to individuals finding their own strengths and talents in a holistic manner, rather than being represented as data on a page. OperationEducation claim ‘We need a different definition of ‘excellent’ education’ and point out the need to find a means of expressing achievement that doesn’t come in the form of an education certificate to make a ‘valuable contributions to society’

Cees says he is ‘really hopeful about technology helping us to improve the organization that is needed to implement student-centered learning. Last Friday we had a mind-blowing presentation of the Dutch educational entrepreneur Bob Hofman that introduced ‘Peerscholar’. This computer program is a very good example of how teachers will be able to help students really reflect on eachothers’ work, and which will improve their responsibility to their own learning process. Less focus on grades and more on the content and the reflection of how they are learning.’

 

Teacher Tuesday week 5: Margaret from Kenya

One of the undoubted dangers of writing about Africa is the potential perpetuation of the ‘single story’, that is, that Africa is more a country than a continent. A great deal of media portrays Africa as a single place with lots of the same problems. This could not be further from the truth, Africa is a continent as complex as any other in the World, perhaps even more so.

Kenya, for example, is excelling in many respects. Kenya’s capital Nairobi is home to the IHub, an institute set up by the University of Cape Town and the Carnegie Foundation to expedite the growth of technology in Kenya by linking scientists in Nairobi to their peers internationally.

Africa’s biggest urban slum is mere miles from this beacon of progress.

Kibera is enormous, home to over 1 million people who generally live in poverty without power or sanitation. However, referring back to the ‘one story’ perpetuation, the immediate assumption may be that Kibera is void of hope but that once again, that isn’t true.
Kibera has a sense of community and group spirit that bonds its citizens together and is helping it flourish. The Economist referred to Kibera as a ‘Boomtown Slum’ in a 2012 article.

One of the true paragons of that sense of community is Margaret, a teacher in Kibera, the following is a routine of Margaret’s day taken from this article:

• “I wake up at 4am, I get the bus in the morning and travel for two hours to my school. I have my regular duties to perform. I’m a class teacher of grade six with 85 children in a class. It starts at 8am, but we normally come early to mark the books. I also take care of the feeding programme so have to measure the food for the day. I have to mark my work. It’s normally a packed day. Today when you called I was issuing textbooks to all the different children. There is a lot of counting to be done and a lot of different activities.”

• “We end at 3.10pm and then the children have prep until 5pm. Between 6pm and 7pm we give an extra hour to some children that can’t do their homework at home because there’s no electricity or space at home. I leave at around 6.30pm. We have to make sure that we clear the compound. Sometime leave at 7pm. Imagine! But when I’m doing it I don’t mind. We work for the children. Five days a week.”

• “There is a persistent shortage of teachers. The government has its own way of doing things, but we are getting forgotten by policies. I am praying the government trains more teachers so we break the large classes into small classes of 50 so we produce the best children from the slum.”

• “The children share books, one to three children per book. The government sends the books but they get destroyed in their bags and sometimes the children sell their books at 50 to 100 shillings to buy food in the slum. 100 shillings, it’s about US$1.5. Children go out campaigning to get other children to come to school.”

• “There is a big difference between rural and urban school because they’re not densely populated. The way we do things in urban areas is different. In rural areas teacher to student ratio is 1 to 40, here is 1 to 70/100.”

• “There is no training for how to teach in slum schools! We’re given training to teach anywhere where there are children — not even in a school! Even if there is no school but there are children, you teach under a tree!”

As Margaret points out, the local and national government does have policies and legislation in place including the fact that every child is free to attend school and that no child can be turned away from a place of education. Of course these may be effective at a national level but in an locale as densely populated as Kibera, it results in overcrowded classrooms that don’t have enough resources.

Due to the lack of resources/infrastructure in Kibera, there is no formal structure for teachers to be employed/nominated and they are largely self-appointed. This is echoed by what Margaret says about children going out, campaigning for and recruiting other children into school, with Kibera being left behind at a national level, they are taking a pro-active stance and attempting to resolve issues for themselves.

Margaret mentions that her school provides meals for pupils which she has said ‘noticeably improves concentration and quality of learning’.

Kibera faces many of the same issues as other developing communities in Africa, inequality, lack of resources etc. but it is the community spirit of its children and exemplum like Margaret that are sustaining its educational structures and highlighting how highly regarded and important education is to its residents.

Continue reading