Improving Education Systems

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Debate

Improving Education Systems

Improving Education Systems

Chaired by

E. Nigel Harris

Organization: 
the University of the West Indies (Jamaica)
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Speakers

Professor Fasli Jalal, Ph.D.

Organization: 
National Education
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Mr. Michael STEVENSON

Organization: 
Cisco
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Mr. Qian TANG

Organization: 
UNESCO
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The “Future of Education” must be built on existing foundations and therefore involves improving those systems that have served us well. Continuous improvement has become a personal and societal expectation in all fields, including education. High expectations are a critical element of success for individuals, schools, communities, colleges, universities and countries. Improvement is associated with extending the benefits of education to all, but also with enhancing the performance of institutions and individual students. At every level we need to focus on areas for improvement, the use and consequences of national and international metrics to measure performance and benchmarks that influence aspirations. We shall also consider steps to reach and support all learners, including resourcing of education, and debate how new curricula and assessment strategies can enhance the relevance and impact of learning.


Executive summary


I. Capacity Building
Dr Qian Tang

Wise_Plenary_SessionDevelopment agencies must rethink their way of working if we are to improve national learning outcomes. Simply building schools, training teachers or distributing books do not guarantee that learning will take place as such projects do not result in wider policy reform. We need todevelop the capacity of all actors if we are serious about large-scale educational reform. Improving governmental capacity will ensure that education systems respond to the real needs of society. UNESCO has emphasized four levels at which capacity building should take place. The first is that of individual officers, particularly in government planning and management teams. The second isorganizational, where the challenge is to improve the effectiveness of working methods and to incentivize better teamwork. The third level is that of the public service: reform must have strong national leadership and adapt to the particular circumstances of administration. Finally, external assistance from bilateral and international agencies must be long-term and lead to a genuine transfer of skills, particularly in fragile states. These four factors must be integrated within a common capacity building strategy which uses local knowledge and is based on strong national ownership. UNESCO supports countries in developing strong, holistic and balanced educational systems, and developing the capacities of all stakeholders is essential. We have devised the UNESCO Capacity Development for Education for All program (CapEFA) for this purpose, pooling funding from different donors to help countries improve the effectiveness of their educational systems. One example of the implementation of this scheme was Côte d’Ivoire, where the challenges included insufficient links between the labor market and the training availability, outdated curricula, and lack of quality data. The development strategy prepared in collaboration with UNESCO aimed to develop capacity in five areas: leadership; institutions; organization; quality and equity; and knowledge generation. Progress has been made. Capacity development is always linked to a set of rules, norms and practices, many of which are not under the control of the Ministry of Education. UNESCO’s approach is to involve all stakeholders and identifynew tools and mechanisms.

II. Upgrading Standards in Indonesia
Prof. Fasli Jalal

The teacher is the most important contributor to education outcomes. However, only about a million out of about 2.7 million Indonesian teachers fulfill the criteria. Furthermore, there are serious inequities in teacher distribution: 66% of schools in remote areas do not have enough teachers. There is also the challenge of absenteeism. About 19% of Indonesian teachers are absent from the classroom at any one time. Teachers are also disadvantaged in terms of remuneration. The government enacted a law in 2005 which specified that all teachers had to upgrade their qualifications to at least a four-year diploma. Secondly, they had to go through a professional certification process. Teachers assigned to remote areas are given a location incentive. The aim is to ensure continuous professional development through a performance reporting system with associated incentives and disincentives. About USD 5.5 billion will be paid in professional and location incentives by 2016. Regarding impact, the salary for certified teachers has been doubled, and tripled in the case of teachers assigned to remote areas. Teacher absenteeism has declined to 15% from 20% in 2003. Induction programs are to be introduced from next year, and a scheme for linking salary increments to performance and promotion is being devised. One problem that still needs to be addressed is ensuring continuous professional development across 78,000 villages.

III. Improving Education in Vulnerable Small Island States
Prof. E. Nigel Harris

Men_Listening_on_stageThe University of the West Indies was established in 1948 as a college of the University of London, but became independent in 1962. The countries served are spread across one million square miles of the Caribbean Sea, are tiny and vary widely in terms of population, GDP and human development index. The largest is Jamaica with about 2.8 million inhabitants, but many of them have fewer than 200,000. The emphasis is on areas relevant to the Caribbean: tropical medicine, agriculture, crime and security, economics and finance, entrepreneurship, climate change, disaster management, renewable energy and culture. The student population grew to about 22,000 between 1948 and 2002. The campuses tend to replicate faculties and teach their own curricula without much communication among them. One of the issues we face is that the growth of the university took place mainly in the countries where the campuses are located, but there are populations scattered across the Caribbean that do not have access to the programs provided by the three campuses. There has been considerable demand for increased access, and we have responded with a series of five-year access plans, the latest of which emphasizes learning and teaching, growing graduate programs, and extending outreach. The challenges are financing in the face of budget reductions, increasing competition from universities outside and inside the region, and the risk of fragmentation. The solution is to create a single virtual university space thatconsolidates and integrates the distributed technologies and learning resources, enabling students, researchers and academics to become part of one learning space and connect with other institutions around the world.


IV. Transformation, System Leadership and Assessment
Michael Stevenson

Improvement is not enough; transformation will drive education and economic development. Cisco has synthesized a body of ideas known as Education 3.0. The core idea is that the development of higher order capabilities for learners around the world should be at the center of system change; everything else – from pedagogy to metrics - must be aligned to support it. Curricula, teaching and learning, and assessment need to focus on building the skills required to solve complex problems while often working with international teams and manipulating discipline-based knowledge. Building design, culture and leadership arealso important factors. Two crucial enablers in this process are connectivity and continuous professional development. Having tested this approach, Cisco has learned that effective change must be holistic,with a new focus on the learner, and that it must adopt a systemic approach. The Global Education Leaders Program (GELP) is about testing ideas at scale for implementing change at the global and national level.The jurisdictions involved have identified several crucial propositions: the importance of leadership in supporting change; focusing not on technologies but on processes; and finding safe spaces for innovation. However, many of the approaches to issues depend on context: New York is looking at a split-screen approach, continuing improvement while growing disruptive innovations from within, while Finland amplifies radical innovations as they emerge, and Korea is diversifying the means of assessing skills. We are designing practical technology-based assessments for complex team problem solving and sociallearning in a digital environment, leading to a technical toolkit and apolicymaker’s manual.

 

Questions and answers

Men_talking_on_stageMike Baker, Moderator
What did not work, and what would you do differently?

Dr Qian Tang
One lesson we learned is that you need a holistic approach, not a sectoral one.

Prof. Fasli Jalal
We should reconsider some of the criteria for certification of teachers in remote areas, as they are not necessarily as prepared as their city counterparts, and improve the certification process itself.

Mike Baker
Does there have to be a combination of carrot and stick in teacher training?

Prof. Fasli Jalal
The incentives that have been put in place mean that many high school graduates want to become teachers, which is a big change.

Mike Baker
How applicable would what you did in the West Indies be to other parts of the world?

Prof. E. Nigel Harris
It is possible for small universities to combine to create a critical mass that is more effective than any single entity. The challenge is getting people to work together.

Mike Baker
Michael, how do you overcome political resistance to transformation?

Michael Stevenson
We did find conservative systems which were willing to change, along with systems in emerging countries. This is a measure of how important the issue is for more established societies to take a hardlook at this approach.

From the floor
Was quality of education affected by an increased shortage of teachers during the certification process?

Prof. Fasli Jalal
Teachers do not have to leave the school for academic upgrading. A lecturer from the closest teacher training university comesto them, and they send in their portfolios for the certification process. Only those who do not meet the criteria are required to undertake 90 hours of teacher training remediation.

From the floor
Are there particular skills that educational leaders in charge of technology need to have? Secondly, how do we incentivize companies to put resources into solving the problems? Thirdly, is educational development possible without societal transformation?

Michael Stevenson
The challenge is to strike the balance between achieving what needs to be done and preparing people for substantial change. Educators need to argue that it is in the interest of industry and the economy at large for them to become involved. Thirdly, transformation does not imply a view of the content of the curriculum; layered over thecurriculum is a set of capabilities which can be generated from any curriculum.

From the floor
Professor Harris, how do we maintain the momentum of change?

Prof. E. Nigel Harris
Many of the countries themselves are very small and cannot create universities on their own, so there is a good rationale for keeping the regional enterprise moving towards creating a first-rateuniversity.

From the floor
We need to address improving the tertiary system specifically to improve the system as a whole.

Dr Qian Tang
We need to have a holistic approach if we are to have Education for All.

Mike Baker
What action point would you like us to take forward in terms of improving education systems?

Dr Qian Tang
The international agencies will have to work with all stakeholders.

Prof. Fasli Jalal
Improving teacher remuneration has to be combined with continuous professional development and the creation of an environment in which the profession is respected.

Prof. E. Nigel Harris
The technology exists for combining groups of colleges, even around specific programs, and we would be richer if colleges in countries or regions could share resources for offering higher quality programs.

Michael Stevenson
We need to see an alignment in the private sector combined with a global direction around curriculum and assessment.

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