This week, a scan of the news coming from Europe led us to put several links on Twitter; however, over the past year we’ve noticed more than one report on related topics. Here is a brief description of news coming out of Germany and Ireland. Next week, we will take a closer look at reports coming out of Central and South American countries.
According to a new study, Germany will not be able to meet ambitious education goals the country set for itself in 2008. Angela Merkel aimed to cut the dropout rate from 8% to 4%, but as of 2013 the rate stood at 5.7%. The German government is also struggling to reduce the number of young people (aged 20-29) who were without any professional qualification. Interestingly, another report pointed out that there has been an ongoing Twitter debate (in German) about the country’s educational system, sparked by one girl who tweeted, “I am almost 18 and have no idea about taxes, rent or insurance. But, I can analyze a poem. In 4 languages.” The debate is raging over the purpose of an education and whether or not schools should prepare students for “life.”
Teachers are protesting in Ireland because they disagree with government reforms that aim to move student evaluations away from standardized testing and towards a performance-based model, which would allow portfolios and other options. Teachers are concerned that the new assessments will force teachers to judge their own students, rather than advocate for them. They also object to the amount of time teachers will need to spend on the new assessments. Pasi Sahlsburg responded to the teachers’ plan to strike by saying that teachers need to take on more complex roles in order to boost the profession. In addition to seeing themselves differently, teachers need to see the students differently–and that’s what the alternative assessment model is all about. According to Sahlsburg, the situation in Ireland is “unique globally in many ways. Internationally it is more common that teachers are the ones that insist more freedom and autonomy in assessing and grading their students rather than the other way round.” In this case, an additional issue might be that teachers are wary of new, complex practices that they don’t have the capacity to carry out—practices that might seem unnecessary, particularly after Irish students just achieved test results that surpassed those the country set for the year 2020.
Omar Torres/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
As reported in The New York Times yesterday, teachers took to the streets of Mexico City to protest the country’s education overhaul program. The teachers occupied public spaces, blocked access to hotels and the airport, and warned of greater mobilization in coming days. They are protesting the fact that the coming education reforms promise to weed out underperforming teachers, raise hiring standards, and weaken the union. Prior demonstrations have already succeeded in pushing lawmakers to forego an evaluation requirement aimed at halting the practice of buying and selling teaching jobs. According to the article, “Teachers buy, sell or inherit positions as though they were family heirlooms. Removing poorly performing teachers is virtually impossible, even over allegations of sexual or substance abuse.” The new law would make teacher evaluations obligatory every four years.
see prior IEN reports:
Mexico Approves Massive Education Reform
Reforms in India and Mexico in the Journal of Educational Change
Scan of Ed News: Protests, Unions, and Educational Funding
Scotland: Susan Quinn, Union president, highlighted members’ concerns.
Over the past month, reports from various countries have shown both the concerns of teachers and concern about teachers. For example, reports of teacher concerns include India and Argentina, where teachers are looking for reliable salary payments, decent facilities, and quality education for all; Finland, where teachers are concerned about a sharp increase in violent student behavior in the classroom; and Greece, where teachers are fighting for the right to protest in the midst of austerity measures that threaten the country’s education system itself. Additionally, in Scotland teachers are protesting a new curriculum and an unmanageable workload.
Reports of concerns about teachers include Lithuania, where students recently outperformed teachers on an exam created by the European Union; Israel, where teachers’ lack of expertise in mathematics has been blamed for student difficulties with the subject; and Malaysia, where the Education Ministry plans to conduct diagnostic exercises to benchmark Science teachers in terms of their content knowledge and pedagogical skills in the field.
Posted in About K-12 International Education News, Newspaper Articles
Tagged Argentina, Finland, Greece, India, Israel, Lithuania, Malaysia, news scan, Scotland, teacher education, Teachers Union
Associated Press (January 16, 2013)
President Enrique Pena Nieto
President Enrique Pena Nieto will enact a new public education law that calls for the creation of a formal system for hiring, evaluating and promoting teachers, in an effort to put an end to the buying and selling of teaching positions.”The goal of the reform is a quality education and for this there are two big things (needed): evaluating professional teachers and the body that will evaluate the system,” said Sen. Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, president of the Senate’s Education Commission. With this move, the federal government will take control over the public education system, which has been dominated by the 1.5 million-member National Union of Education Workers.
Union President Elba Esther Gordillo
Elba Esther Gordillo, who led the union for the past 23 years, has been accused of using union funds for personal gain.
For more information:
Hosts of Elba Esther mobilized against labor and educational reforms (in Spanish)
Mexico Takes on Teachers Over School Control
Thousands of Teachers in Mexico Protest Pending Education Reform Initiatives
State Congresses Approve Education Reform (in Spanish)
Mexico Approves Education Reform, But Not Everyone is Celebrating (in Spanish)