This month, the European Union’s biannual convention focused on funding for education. There is a growing concern that too many E. U. countries are implementing drastic cuts that will make it difficult to sustain growth once the economy recovers. As reported in the New York Times, Rok Primozic, E. U. vice chairman, pointed out that “if European governments continue to cut back on education, they are also cutting back on skills.” Nevertheless, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Estonia, (as well as non-E.U. countries, such as Chile and Scotland) continue to implement austerity measures that cutback on education spending and lead to protests. In contrast, France,Russia, Australia, Norway, and South Korea have all declared plans to increase education funding in the coming year, while private funding for education is on the rise in Vietnam and Cambodia.
In Guatemala, the issue of access to education becomes complicated as the government’s efforts to increase requirements for teacher qualifications have led to protests by those who see higher levels of education as an impediment to job applicants. However, a recent report from Scotland indicates a link between levels of teacher education and student performance. This link has led the United Arab Emirates to send teachers back to school, but it also might be responsible for a growing skepticism about the qualifications of teachers worldwide. For example, the governments of both France and Japan are questioning the contents of teacher-issued report cards, Malaysiahas decided to test teachers on their knowledge of English, the UK has increased Ofsted school inspections, and India plans to include students in the curriculum design process.
Several major reforms spotlight the dire need for high quality education and propose drastic changes. For example, France proposed a ban on homework and a shorter school week, Malaysia and Japan are redesigning curriculum so that it promotes creativity and innovation, and New Zealand’s Education Amendment Bill of 2012 allows for the creation of charter schools.