Category Archives: Think Tank/Institute Report

Australia

Australia: Class War in the Classroom?

Privatisation in Education Research Initiative (October 8, 2012)

Prime Minister Gillard

Amid debate over government spending on private schools, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is in the process of negotiating a new school funding deal. Gillard wants to increase education funding by $6.5 billion a year, provided that reforms be implemented to improve teacher quality and student performance. As previously reported, Gillard’s goal is for Australian students to be ranked among the top five countries in math, reading, and science, by 2025. While her plan would increase funding for private as well as public schools, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott believes private schools will suffer as a result of the plan.

For more information:

Video: OECD Education at a Glance 2012

Gillard Delivers School Funding Plan

Prime Minister Julia Gillard Says That Private Schools Will Get More

Austria

Successful school trajectories of immigrant students (in German)
Perchinig, B.  Institute for Research on Qualifications and Training of the Austrian Economy (14 June 2012)

The Institute for Research on Qualifications and Training of the Austrian Economy conducted a study exploring the factors that contribute to successful school trajectories for immigrant students.  9 experts were interviewed and 5 group discussions with 34 immigrant students were conducted.  The experts and students pointed to the fact that the family is the most important resource for school success, although parents often do not know the inner workings of the Austrian school system.  For instance, immigrant families mostly cannot understand that the Austrian education system presupposes the contribution and participation of parents. Furthermore, the interviews and discussions revealed that a liberal educational style is more supportive than an authoritative one and that male students saw high truancy as the first step in dropping out of school.  In general, though, students highly identified themselves with Austria and considered their chances and possibilities in the country as very good. To improve immigrant education, the study’s author recommends to more work with parents, individual coaching with students, measures against school absenteeism, and gender-sensitive pedagogy.

Austria

Low qualified people are the pariahs of the knowledge society (in German)
Ziegler, E.  Science.Orf (11 June 2012)

According to Manfred Krenn, researcher at the Working Life Research Center in Vienna, people who are deemed unemployable stay on the lowest step of a new caste system that builds on education titles and grades. His recent study argues that competition on the job market and pressure for further education and advanced training lead to a downward spiral for people “low qualified people.”  Furthermore, he found that less educated people have less access to education programs and their employers do not encourage them to pursue further education.  (In 2009, for example, 5.6% of less educated individuals attended an educational program, whereas 42% of academics participated in further education programs).  Krenn finds fault in middle- and upper-class notions of knowledge determining what’s tested.  To remedy this, according to Krenn, education programs should refer more to the socio-economic criteria of the people concerned.  Additionally, schools should be aware that students from underprivileged families start their school career under different conditions than their wealthier peers and that a need for cultural accommodation exists.

The Netherlands

Pilot to prevent segregation of schools (in Dutch)
Besturenraad: Center for Christian Education (April 2012)

Segregation of students with different ethnic backgrounds in schools (leading to what is called “white” and “black” schools) is a problem in a number of Dutch cities; segregation is hard to tackle as parents are free to choose a school for their children. The Dutch Department of Education has implemented a number of pilot projects to increase cooperation between these schools and to have students with different backgrounds work together.

China

Heated debate on “examination” and “educating people” problem at China’s Leading Policy Forum
Main China (4 April 2012)

The “one shot, one kill” kind of college entrance exam–known as the “gaokao”–is at the center of the exam-oriented Chinese education system. Education in China teaches to tests and yearns for higher scores, with some labelling these examinations an “obsession” and others pointing to the stress that such high-stakes testing has imposed on students. Besides the very strict once-a-year schedule of the exam, there are also other policy aspects, such as suggesting that students should return to their household-registration city to take the exam, even if they have migrated to and attended school in another city for many years. Universities treat students with the same scores from different regions differently so the “hometown exam-taking” requirement has been causing a tremendous amount of inequality.  Educators and policy makers continued the dialogue on the reform of college entrance exams at Boao Forum, one of China’s leading policy forums.  Some individuals have proposed less stringent guidelines, even favoring more elective options for students.

Australia

Catching up: Learning from the best school systems in East Asia
Jensen, B.  Grattan Institute (February 2012)

Four of the five top education nations in the PISA 2009 study come from East Asia – Shanghai, Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore.  (Finland ranked third in the study.)  In order to draw lessons for Australia, this report from the Grattan Institute found that it was neither cultural factors (Confucianism, Tiger Mums, rote learning) nor the amount of budget that contributed to educational success.  Instead, the report suggests that these countries implemented ideas and levers that are known to be effective for system improvement (e.g. focus on effective student learning, a strong culture of teacher education, collaboration, mentoring, feedback, and sustained professional development).