Sources in many countries over the past few weeks highlight issues ranging from educational access and funding, to quality curriculum and government corruption. Here is a quick glimpse of what we’ve seen on the issues of access and funding:
Pia Philip Michael and Bridget Nagomoro visited the UK to discuss the challenges to girls’ education in South Sudan. Photograph: Leapfrog Public Relations
Reports have shown that the United Arab Emirates is struggling with the issue of high tuition and long student wait lists, while Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Education has suggested that the government link educational subsidies with evidence of high quality. Australia and the Philippines seek to increase investment in educational research by launching a partnership that aims to raise the quality of education in the Philippines through investing in research to support K-12 education. Meanwhile, union leaders in Peru met to develop policies that would defend the right of indigenous peoples to public education. Sudan aims to keep young girls in primary school by involving officials in the effort to spread the national message on educating girls. India is about to launch the second round of the Right to Education Act admissions, which will include a reservation of 25% seats in private schools for disadvantaged groups; however, reports reveals that word has not yet reached parents who would benefit most from the new provision.
The Times of India (June 6, 2013)
The Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation, introduced by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), was designed with the intention of reducing stress on students and evaluating them “in a more rounded way”; however, the system is being criticized for adding a layer of bureaucracy that reveals a distrust for schools and teachers, adding tremendous paperwork. Some say the process can be streamlined, and once members receive training the new process seems like less of a burden. Students seem to be heavily in favor of the system, which has turned the academic year into two semesters and, as one student said, “made even boring topics interesting through various projects.” Parents are also supportive, saying, “Students are not cramming notes like we had to. Their interpersonal and co-scholastic skills are better and they become better leaders.”
For more information:
A study on implementation of the Contemporary Comprehensive evaluation in upper primary schools of Kerala
(links to articles are embedded as hyperlinks)
In the most recent issue of the Journal of Educational Change, studies highlight teacher participation in reform efforts in Mexico and a participatory approach to wide-scale change in India.
Education Reform and Teacher Participation in Mexico
In their study of Mexico’s 2006 Reforma de la Educacion Secundaria (RS) (Reform of Secondary Educatión), Levinson, Blackwood and Cross conclude that despite interest in professionalizing teaching at the secondary level, “for the most part secondary teachers in Mexico neither felt like agents nor partners in the RS…. As in previous reform efforts, teachers mostly felt that they were recipients of plans formulated by government officials, and as a result many have evidenced neither complete compliance nor full commitment to the reform.” They go on to explore the problematic role of the union in the reform and the concerns that many teachers have about the union. Recent reports from Mexico show that concerns about the union and teacher participation continue. President Enrique Peña Nieto’s recent education reform initiative is widely seen as an effort to diminish the power of Mexico’s teacher union, which has been led by Elba Esther Gordillo; however, it is not clear if President Nieto will provide the essential structure and support that would allow for authentic teacher participation. At this time, the teachers and union leadership have been presented in the press as allies in the effort to protest Nieto’s reform.
Wide-scale change in India
While recent attention often focuses on the regulations of the Right to Education Act in India (including recent reports and debates about the progress of this initiative), Tricia Niesz and Ramchandar Krishnamurthy suggested that the wide-scale adoption of Activity-Based Learning (ABL) in Tamil Nadu India was accomplished through a more participatory, grass-roots approach. They argue that state-level administrators “engaged strategies for change that combined both movement-building tactics and the conventional tools of administrative power.” These administrators themselves became experts in the ABL method in a way that built good will and moral authority even when administrators used top-down mandates to institutionalize the reform.
Photo: The Hindu
In an effort to improve the country’s economy, the Indian government has cut funding to the Right to Education (RTE) Act, which aims to provide every child between the ages of six and 14 with an elementary education. Cuts are expected to total 2-3% of the total RTE budget for 2012-2013, a substantive deduction that will affect the implementation of the RTE legislation. Civic bodies, such as Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), have reported that they simply cannot afford to meet the requirements of RTE. The decrease in funding is expected to affect many, such as disabled children who rely on government supported transportation, and children in areas of conflict.
Meanwhile, cities such as Nagpur are holding seminars to inform and educate local principals about RTE implementation, in the hope of improving student achievement country-wide. Tripura is a rare example of a state that has been able to meet the requirements of RTE. Tripura admitted 44,000 students under the RTE quota this year, and plans to increase the age of students who qualify to receive a free education. Tapan Chakraborty, School Education Minister, pointed out that the Left Front government has been spending more than 20% of its annual budget on education, while the central government has spent less than 10%.
Students will begin applying to schools under RTE on January 10, 2012; however, member schools of the Karnataka State Private School Management’s Federation (KSPSMF) have warned that they will not admit disadvantaged students if the government does not reimburse them.
AFP, The Economic Times (October 6, 2012)
The emphasis on moving from access to quality is a commonplace argument concerning schools in developing countries. India claims to have achieved close to 100% enrollment of girls and boys in primary schools and is embarking on quality strengthening interventions to retain these students; however, quality is an extremely wide concept in the context of India and in most schools it begins with providing potable water and clean and functional toilets to its students. The Supreme Court of India has recently passed a ruling making it mandatory for public schools to provide this most basic infrastructure over the period of next six months.
For more information:
Indian court orders toilets to be placed in all schools
The Times of India: School Toilets
Poor PISA score: Govt blames ‘disconnect ‘ with India
Anubhuti Vishnoi, Indian Express online (September 3, 2012)
Indian students participated in Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) for the first time in 2009. 16,000 students from 400 schools across the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu took this test. Though Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are among the best performing states in India, the PISA scores of their students were dismally low, leading to much discussion in India. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), however, is arguing that these scores are not a reflection of the country’s schooling but of the disconnect between the test questions and India’s socio-cultural specificities, especially that of rural India. The Ministry will write to the Organization for Economic Cooperation Development to address this disconnect.
AP for reforms to make RTE effective
The Hindu online (September 2, 2012)
The Right to Education Act (2009) makes education free and compulsory for children between 6 and 14 years. It also mandates government schools to provide free education to all children and that these schools be managed by School Management Committees (SMC). Viewing the disconnect between the local government schools and the people in that community as an impediment to the effective implementation of RTE, the Andra Pradesh School Education Department has recommended a series of reforms. These include making it compulsory for SMC members’ children to attend the concerned school in their locality, having teachers teach in other schools in the area to meet teacher shortage, and providing after-school remedial classes for students.