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The Jordan Education Initiative: A Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Model to Support Education Reform

research

Authors: Haif Bannayan, Juliana Guaqueta, Osama Obeidat, Harry Anthony Patrinos and Emilio Porta

Abstract: The Jordan Education Initiative, launched in 2003 under the umbrella of the World Economic Forum, is a publicprivate partnership, or multi-stakeholder partnership, that integrates information and communication technologies into the education process as a tool for teaching and learning in grades 1–12. This initiative fits within the ongoing reform of the education system in Jordan that began in the 1990s. The Jordan Education Initiative’s main objective is to help Jordanian students develop critical knowledge economy skills crucial for competitiveness and economic growth. The Initiative also seeks to build the capacity of the local information technology industry for the development of innovative learning solutions, and to build a sustainable model of reform supported by the private sector that could be scaled nationally and replicated in other developing countries. Click here to read more.

World Bank, June 2012

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Poland scores late goals in education

Global news

The eyes of the football world have turned to Poland, as it plays co-host to Euro 2012.

But the country has been winning international approval for a different kind of league table success – as Poland has become one of the rising stars in education. Among eastern European, former-Communist countries, Poland has been the biggest education success story – following modernising reforms launched at the end of the 1990s.

It has also been more successful than most countries at one of the holy grails for education reform, equality of opportunity. Poland’s schools are succeeding, more than many others, in narrowing the gap between the weak and the strong, the gifted and the challenged. No other European country has climbed the international education tables quite so consistently as this nation, which emerged so recently from decades of totalitarian rule and economic hardship.

More for less

The most recent test results from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) show that Poland is ranked 14th for reading, ahead of the USA, Sweden, France and Germany – and well ahead of the UK in 25th.
While media attention focused on the scorching performances of Pisa chart-toppers such as regions of China and South Korea, it was Poland’s success which perhaps offered the more relevant lessons to the struggling post-industrial economies of western Europe.

So what is it that Poland has been doing so well?

The OECD points out that Poland’s reforms have raised performance to the same or higher levels as those of the USA and Norway, “despite spending less than half of what those countries spend on education”.
But if throwing money at schools was not the answer, what is?
Dr Michal Federowicz, director of Poland’s Education Research Institute in Warsaw, traces the roots of this success back to the dark years of martial law after the Solidarity era ended in 1981, when, as he put it, “educated people were suppressed”.
For most of the 1980s, he said, Poland turned its back on education – so that when democracy finally arrived in 1990, a massive appetite for change in economic, cultural life was released. This soon translated into demands for better education.

Soviet curriculum

Initial reforms in the early 1990s concentrated on stripping out the ideological content of the old Soviet-influenced curriculum. But it was not until the 1999 education act that deeper structural changes were approved.
The act was radical. Poland’s elementary school tier was to be reduced from eight to six years, but with a new three-year “junior high” or “gymnasium” tier tacked on, covering ages 13 to 16 years olds.
This gave all pupils a crucial extra year before having to decide on their paths into higher education or vocational training.
“The political will was there to achieve substantial changes in the quality of education and other public services,” said Dr Federowicz.
“But the changes couldn’t have happened without comprehensive reforms of the structure of local government itself, which resulted in more local autonomy.”
Poland’s former deputy minister of education and higher education, Professor Zbigniew Marciniak, identified factors beyond political and economic imperatives.
“It was the spirit of the people. The effort that parents and families put in for their kids to continue at school… society did it for us, we just created the conditions.”
While decentralised decision-making was vital, government intervention was required in the poorer rural areas, as well as in formulation of nationally-standardised exams and teacher-training.

‘Scale of problem’

In fact, Poland used the Pisa test information from 2000 to help pull itself up.
“We knew we had problems – but the first Pisa measurement showed us the scale of the problems,” said Professor Marciniak.

It helped to reveal one of the biggest failings of the old system – “Grade Eight syndrome”, whereby half the school population ditched academic study at 15.
“Pisa showed that a lot of those kids forgot all they learnt in elementary school… and the most dramatic thing was they couldn’t learn any more.”
The next round of Pisa in 2003 coincided with the first cohort completing the first three-year junior high cycle. “We got a great improvement,” Professor Marciniak added.
“Not to over-estimate, we were starting from a very low level, but the decision to mix these weaker kids with all others, all going through a longer general education, was working, the outcomes were really surprising. But very pleasant for us.”
The weaker pupils did better and the strongest ones carried on getting stronger.

Examining the exams

The break at 12 to 13 years of age also gave children the chance to start afresh, to escape stigmatisation from earlier failures. And the creation of 7,000 new junior high schools led to better teachers.
It’s like pushing a bus – you have to push a long time before it moves”
Professor Zbigniew Marciniak on reforming an education system
“There was a big attempt by teachers to show they were good enough to teach in these schools – they had aspirations, and this was more important even than training,” said Professor Marciniak.
Structural change was accompanied by reform of the curriculum and qualifications. A new core curriculum is still being fine-tuned, as are the new university entrance exams, the “Matura”.
There has been a massive expansion in young people going to university.
A falling birthrate notwithstanding, Poland now has five times as many students in higher education than it had in 1999.
This has meant that the higher education system has had to shake itself up to cope with an influx of students from a far wider range of backgrounds, rather than only the most academically able.

Soaring numbers

As a professor of mathematics, Professor Marciniak appreciated how far academics had been “spoiled” in the past.
“We admitted only the 10% most gifted. In that context we could really believe all our students were talented enough to be our followers in research, and all our studies were constructed this way,” he said.
But now with student intake soaring, universities have been asked to re-design their courses.
“The only intervention of state apart from finance, is to create a good accreditation system which would ask, what is your promise to students? How can you explain the real outcome of learning? The rest is in hands of the schools.”
If the heat of that decade of reform has now tempered somewhat, there are still changes.
Dr Federowicz regards one of the greatest achievements to be the success of decentralisation: “We proved that local government could take responsibility for education,” he said.

For example, the government is funding a Digital Schools scheme to provide copyright-free electronic text-books to children in 380 schools.
The scheme, hailed by open learning advocates, was the result of a deal between central government, publishers and other stakeholders.
Professor Marciniak is looking forward to the next Pisa results, which he believes will show Poland making further progress. How much?
“It’s hard to to predict because changing the curriculum on such a scale, it’s like pushing a bus – you have to push a long time before it moves.”
“But something good is happening – our national exams will show it, Pisa will show this year I hope. If not, then definitely in three years time, we will take the harvest.”

BBC News, 12 June 2012

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Budget –private schools to hold agitation against RTE rules

Budget Private Schools, Right to Education

DELHI: Representatives of at least 5,000 budget-private schools from across the country convened in the Capital to discuss the road forward as most face the threat of closure for not meeting certain criteria set by the Right to Education Act, 2009.

The schools, under the umbrella organisation, National Independent Schools’ Alliance (NISA), are planning to start a nation-wide campaign against “certain rules under the RTE,” NISA national coordinator R C Jain said on Wednesday.
Members said the provisions in the RTE making playgrounds compulsory for all schools is difficult to meet because most budget-private schools operate out of small areas and “do not have enough space for expansion.”

The schools also raised concerns regarding other sections of the RTE Act, issues of capacity-building, and governance with the goal of improving access and quality of education. They argued that people have “chosen” to study in budget-private schools over free education in government schools because “they have more faith in us”.
Jain said the government was also not paying for students who were admitted under the 25 per cent reservation for EWS category. This was “putting additional monetary burden on schools”.

Senior coordinator, Centre for Civil Society (CCS), Shantanu Gupta, said, “Closure looms large for such schools as they cater to families who can only afford to pay a minimal amount as fee for educating their children. “Since these schools cannot increase their fees as parents will not be able to pay anything more than what they do currently, the threat of closure is imminent.”

CCS is helping these schools formulate measures to remain open. “When schools resume session in July, we will hold protests in all state capitals against the rules under the RTE,” Jain said. He said the government is “forcing RTE” on budget schools which were “trying to provide education taking as little money as possible.”
Members said the rule stating that no child would be failed till Class VIII was unfair to the child as well as the educational system as “the will to perform was not encouraged” among students.

Indian Express, 14 June 2012

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Nagpur schools to reopen admissions to enlist students under RTE

Reservation of seats, Right to Education

NAGPUR: In a major development late on Thursday, several city schools have agreed to reopen their admissions at entry level (Std I) from June 20 specifically to accommodate students under the 25% free quota as mandated by the Right To Education.

Speaking to TOI from Pune, deputy director of education Mahesh Karajgaonkar said, “At the RTE awareness seminar on Wednesday I asked the principals to reopen their admissions. The top schools said they would have to consult their management as admissions to Std I closed early this year and all seats have been taken. Today I learnt that everyone has agreed to my suggestion.”

Karajgaonkar’s suggestion has been termed as the ‘Common Programme’ (CP) which all schools will follow. It is basically a timetable from the reopening of admissions till the allotment of seats.
Kana Roy Choudhary, principal of Centre Point (Katol Rd), said, “RTE is the law of the land and we all respect it and we will implement it as well. All schools have agreed to follow this Common Programme and admission forms will be distributed from June 20 onwards.”

While many principals said that Bhavans’ schools are also a part of the CP, this could not be confirmed as the school did not respond to calls. Said Karajgaonkar: “Be it Bhavan’s, Centre Point, Modern or any other state board school, everyone is on board for the CP now. Some aided minority schools had reservations about this but I am sure that many of these schools are not having 51% students from their community as mandated under the law. After returning to Nagpur on Friday (he is in Pune now), I will make further plans.”

The immediate concern of many top schools like Centre Point and Bhavan’s would be the lack of seats and infrastructure. With admissions already full it is clearly an uphill task to accommodate another 25% students.
“We will just go ahead with the process and do the best possible from our side. We have agreed to the CP so it goes without saying that we will admit students for the 25% seats, maybe we might have to increase the sections,” said Choudhary.

While the government agreed that there might be an ‘infrastructure’ issue, it stressed that it could be managed. “From next year these schools will admit according to their infrastructure, but I do not see it becoming a big issue. The law has to be followed and we all have to find a way to do that,” said Karajgaonkar.
The state government has decided to implement RTE from the 2012-13 academic year itself and one of the major components of the act is free admissions under the 25% quota. Schools have to provide admissions to socially disadvantaged group (SC/ST) & economically weaker sections (OBC, VJNT & those whose parents’ annual income in less than Rs. 1 lakh).

Nagpur’s South Point School (state board) became the first in the state to give admission under the 25% quota and now the CP prepared by the education department here seems to have taken the process further.

The Times of India, 15 June 2012

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RTE: 32,000 schools to be put on notice

Private schools, Reservation of seats

MUMBAI: Around 32,000 schools in the state will be slapped with notices for not following the rule of giving 25% of their seats to students from weaker socioeconomic sections under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education 2009 (RTE) Act this academic year.

Another notice will also be issued to schools that haven’t started the process for obtaining a certificate of registration which has become mandatory for all schools under the new Act. Schools that are unable to show cause stand to lose their recognition.

As per preliminary data, not more than 20 students have been admitted into the schools under the 25% quota. The education department will now seek an explanation from every school, including 20,460 government-aided schools and 12,144 private unaided schools on why they did not admit at least 25% of poor students. Sanjay Deshmukh, nodal officer for RTE and special project director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) said, “It appears that the schools have not received many applications for these seats. But many school authorities did not even display the total number of seats and dates for application on their notice boards. Big schools in Nagpur have implemented the 25% reservation, then why haven’t city schools done the same?”

Also, none of the schools in the city have applied for registration under the new rule that stipulates that no school can be established without obtaining a certificate of registration from the state government. This certificate will be given only to schools that meet RTE norms of infrastructure and teacher qualifications. The schools have to acquire this certificate within three years from the commencement of the Act i.e. before March 31, 2013. But since the certificate can only be issued after an inspection of the school premises, the education authorities had asked schools to submit information two years ago.
“So far, not a single school has applied. We had asked for early applications because these provisions are time-consuming. For primary school teachers who do not have graduate degrees, we give a five-year period for teachers to pursue higher qualifications. But if schools do not apply sooner, they will miss the March 31 deadline,” said Deshmukh.
However, schools say that they did not receive the notifications till last year. Najma Kazi, principal of Anjuman Islam’s Saif Tyabji Girls’ High School, Byculla, says that they received the notification for the self-application in October 2011. “The government was late in sending out the notifications. We are compiling the data and all the schools under our management will submit the data by June 30,” she added.

Daily News and Analysis, 13 June 2012

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RTE quota: Parents rush to get admission documents

Reservation of seats, Right to Education

MUMBAI: For Jyoti Sonawane, a domestic help who stays in Goregaon, the last few days have been tough. While she is happy that her four-year-old daughter’s application for junior KG has been accepted at Bangur Nagar Vidya Bhavan, Goregaon, the process of acquiring an income certificate has been a
difficult one.

The June 10 deadline for schools to admit students under the 25% quota was extended after schools stated that they had not received enough applications. For admissions under the 25% quota reserved for economically weaker sections under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, applicants must provide an income certificate. For those belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes (SC/ST), only a caste certificate is required.
“I have not been able to go to work for the last three days, as I had to go to the tehsildar’s office with one document or the other,” said Sonawane, whose husband is ill and cannot work. Sonawane earns Rs6,000 per month to run a family of six and fears that missing work for several days may lead to a cut in her salary this month. “But I want to ensure that my daughter’s admission is secured,” she added.
“Since admissions under the Act are meant for students from families with an annual income under Rs1 lakh, an income certificate becomes mandatory to ensure applicants fall in the category,” said Sanjay Deshmukh from Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, in charge of enforcing the Act.

The necessary documents for applying for an income certificate include the ration card, an affidavit from the court, and an official income record for one year, and it takes about 15 days for the certificate to be issued. For those who cannot show a salary record, it is necessary to get a letter from the corporator.
“During the admission season, we get a lot of applications for income certificates,” said Prashant Panvekar, tehsildar, Borivli. “The process takes time because we have to ensure there is no ambiguity in the documents,” he said.

Panchsheela Jadhav, also a domestic help, has also been running around for securing the income certificate for her son’s admission to MTS Khalsa High School, Goregaon. “I was waiting at the tehsildar’s office for three hours on Friday, but since my husband was working, my application was not accepted as his signature was needed,” said Jadhav. “We now have to go back again,” she added.
The state education department has taken steps to ease the process for applicants. “I have spoken to the sub-divisional officer to direct tehsildars to issue the certificates for RTE applicants as early as possible,” said Deshmukh.

Hindustan Times, 18 June 2012

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Seamy side of schooling

Government run schools, Infrastructure, Quality, Right to Education

RANCHI: If you are a needy child — boy or girl doesn’t matter — from the margins and are lucky to have bagged a berth at a government-run residential school, welcome to textbooks but please don’t expect toilets.

This shocking truth is revealed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in its scathing report following visits to Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, Gumla, and Residential School for Tribal Boys, Baridih, under Ranchi district. These schools, tucked in the grimy, poverty-ridden folds of the hinterland, makes a mockery of the Right to Education Act due to the sheer hardship shorn of dignity that comes hand in hand with basic schooling.

Windows lack curtains, staircases railings, toilets running water. Soaps, bulbs and brooms are unheard-of luxuries. This is life at the girls-only Kasturba Gandhi residential school in Gumla, which the national child rights panel does not know what to make of, even after examining its Palamau counterpart that ran out of a boys’ observation home.

The panel’s visit was a link in a greater chain of events. A minor Gumla girl was abused for days at a New Delhi home where she worked as a maid, raising nationwide outrage. A national commission team comprising members Dinesh Laroia and Vinod Kumar Tikoo, registrar B.K. Sahu and senior consultant Ramanath Nayak came to Gumla to understand how mechanics of poverty, migration and trafficking force minor girls out of homes. The team visited the Kasturba Gandhi school on April 28 as part of this visit.

In its report to the state government, the members said Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya at Bharno, Gumla, some 50km from the capital, had a pucca building with a boundary wall, but that’s where the good news ended.
One hundred and sixty-eight girls — against the sanctioned strength of 240 — stay in rooms with uneven floors, uncovered windows and no doors. The school does not have proper electricity connection. A generator set operates for three hours a day, from 6pm to 9pm. Most young girls stayed on the first floor where the stairway does not have railings. Girls told the commission members that staying on the first floor was risky during bad weather and they were “scared” at night. The commission found the toilet complex “unusable”.

In its report, the commission has asked the administration to ensure power, proper doors and windows, railing for stairs, toilet facility, gas or kerosene lamps and solar torches, as well as repair the ground floor toilet complex.
The Gumla administration responded with a mixed bag of half-hearted work, excuses and explanations.
Gumla deputy commissioner Rahul Sharma assured “prompt action”. But district superintendent of education Arjun Prasad said the building was under construction and had not been handed over to the government by the Gram Siksha Samiti, which was facing a financial bungling probe.
Prasad added that the administration had constructed a toilet complex and completed electric wiring. “But fitting doors will take time,” he said.

At Residential School for Tribal Boys at Baridih, Ranchi district, which the commission visited on the same day, 248 boys were found to be staying in utter filth, said the commission.
The school lacked basic facilities like water, toilets, floors, bulbs, brooms and soaps.
The building was dilapidated. A section has been declared by the government as “unfit for use”, but the open kitchen lies within the danger zone.
The school lacks a functional toilet complex. Irrespective of season or time of day, boys go to the river, 1.5km from the building, to bathe and relieve themselves.
The commission asked the state government to immediately get the toilets functional, ensure running water, replace fused electric bulbs and arrange safe electric wiring in the hostel rooms.
The then tribal welfare commissioner Pravin Toppo had assured “immediate action”.
Ranchi welfare officer Dasrath Raut, however, sounded practical. “We have written many times to the state government for funds. Where is the money?” he asked.

The Telegraph, 19 June 2012

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Class I admission: Last year’s official figure a blown-up version

Implementation, Reservation of seats, Right to Education

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: While the official figure on students joining class I in state-syllabus schools show a decline in numbers, a reality check raises doubts about this head count.

The difference between the number of kids who joined class I last year and this year is being cited to claim that the number of students joining state-syllabus schools is on the decline.

But, interestingly, it has evolved that the official figure on the number of students who had joined class I last year had been blown up. The number of students in class II this year is only 3,10,081 — 13,291 less than the number of students who had enrolled last year in class I.

There is very little chance of so many students dropping out of school in the first year. The average dropout rate in primary school students in Kerala, according to the latest Economic Review, is only 0.38%.

“Last year’s figure could have been blown up to prevent issues arising out of less number of students enrolling in class I. But the Right to Education Act, which is being implemented from this year, is strict on the count while taking care of all the issues that might arise in case the number of students falls,” said director of public instructions A Shajahan.

The number of children who joined class I this year, according to the count taken last Thursday, was 3,02,147. Compared to last year’s figure of 3,23,372, this is 21,225 less.

“The teachers’ package implemented as part of the RTE Act will see to it that from this year the numbers are not blown up, as teachers will no more lose their postings if lesser number of students enroll,” said P Hari Govindan, state president, Kerala Primary and Secondary Teachers’ Union.

Also, the Unique Identity Number, which is being issued to students in state schools, will ensure that the head count is not fabricated from this year. “We will actually get the exact figure. And when the pupil-teacher ratio is revised, more divisions will become imminent, and more teachers will be required,” Shajahan said.

The Times of India, 19 June 2012

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Won’t enroll students under RTE Act: Schools

Right to Education

COIMBATORE: Many schools are reportedly turning away students who seek admission under the right to education (RTE) Act, while other schools take shelter under the reason that parents have not approached them for free seats this year.
Lack of clarity in implementing the RTE Act, with no proper guidelines or instructions to education officials, has put everyone in a difficult situation.

“We have received many calls from parents who did not get a seat under RTE in leading schools. The schools, citing one reason or the other, have denied admission to the children,” said Mr R. Manimohan, chairman of the coordinating committee of students’ welfare association of parents (SWAP), here on Monday.
He added that parents were recommended to put their wards in government schools as they would not fall under the RTE.
But even education department officials seemed hesitant when such issues were taken to them. The schools have been asked to give 25 per cent of seats, but none knows whether it should be monitored by the department or not, explained an education department source.

“Many approach the education department officials with complaints, but how can they take action when they do not have any instruction or order to do so?” the source asked.

The schools claimed to have their own worries: when they admit a child, when and how much would be the reimbursement from the government at a time when the fee structure was governed by the fee determination committee?
“Suppose the government delayed the payment to schools, what would happen to the children who joined under the RTE? Should they be dropped from the school for non-payment of fees?” asked a school principal, speaking to DC here.

Deccan Chronicle, 19 June 2012

Comment

Over 16k RTE seats vacant

Implementation, Reservation of seats, Right to Education

BANGALORE: There are no takers as yet for over 16,000 seats reserved for the underprivileged in city schools.

For instance, for 16,656 seats available in schools falling under the 25% quota in Bangalore South, only 2,384 applications have been filed. Similarly, for over 4,000 seats available in schools in Bangalore North, only 1,868 valid applications have been received by the BEOs.

According to RTE rules notified by the Karnataka government on April 28, 2012, children falling under the 25% quota cannot be denied admission irrespective of admission period. Section 10 of the rulebook states that a child can be admitted in a school after the extended period of admission, which is set as three months. The rulebook clarifies that if a child is admitted late, he shall be eligible to complete studies with the help of special training.

The education officers, responsible for implementing the act, appear clueless. “We are aware that a lot of seats will remain free, but we have no further guidelines from the government. May 25 was set as the last date for the submission of applications under the 25% quota, which implies that application forms won’t be issued after that,” said an education officer.

The state had set June 10 as the last date for schools to fill up the 25% seats, which has been extended to June 18.

The Times of India, 18 June 2012

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