This back-to-school time of year has seen teacher strikes in places such as Chicago, England, Australia, Kenya, and Slovakia. These teachers are commonly concerned about new approaches to teacher evaluations and compensation, slashed education budgets, and working conditions. In contrast to many countries that seem to position educators and politicians on opposing sides, Norway announced that it will propose changes to their teacher evaluation system by working with teachers, and incorporating student input as well.
High school students have been staging their own dramatic protests worldwide as well. In Chile, the students occupied schools and government buildings to protest tax reforms that they said failed to devote adequate resources to education. In China, female students protested university gender quotas that eased entrance requirements for male students and kept women out. A similar issue arose in Iran, as 36 universities banned women from 77 fields of study in a move that prompted the UN to call for an investigation.
Innovation and reform in school curricula have also made the news this month. China will focus on vocational training to meet economic demands; France will introduce ethics and citizenship courses; Estonia’s first-graders will learn computer code; and Bosnia will introduce a plan to unite children of different ethnic backgrounds. Over the summer, Hong Kong introduced a controversial “patriotic” curriculum, but the plan was later quashed due to parent and teacher protests.
Singapore has also announced a major new initiative that will revolutionize measures of school effectiveness in the country. Moving away from a quantified approach to evaluating schools (based on test scores and a ranking system), the country will adopt a “student-centric, values-driven” approach to education in which best practices are developed and shared among educators in a new online system. Schools also hope to build relationships with parents and communities. Singapore’s new direction seems to be in stark contrast to the OECD Report, which created a global stir when released last week, as countries were ranked by everything from student performance to teacher pay.