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Media-education groups link up in Alliance of Asian Media Schools

Global news, Higher Education

February 17, 2014

NATION UNIVERSITY’S Faculty of Communication Arts has forged an alliance with leading media academic institutions from four other Asian countries for a regional collaboration on media education that will prepare Asia for a new era.

The four are the Konrad Adenauer Asian Centre for Journalism (ACFJ) at the Philippines’ Ateneo de Manila University, the Statesman Print Journalism School from India, Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Department of Media and Communication (DMC) from Cambodia, and the National Management College in Yangon, Myanmar.

They will work together to synergise their media courses so as to allow students to study in the five countries, exchange teachers, and introduce a new pan-Asian knowledge curriculum.

The network members have founded what is to be known as the “Alliance of Asian Media Schools (AMS)”.

“AMS should be able to bring about good synergy and development in Asian journalism education. Nation University’s Faculty of Communication Arts wants to be an active partner in this alliance, whose members share the goal of ethical and responsible journalism. It is the key concept which we have prioritised for our students,” said Dr Duangporn Arbhasil, senior executive vice president of Nation University.

Academics and heads of the five met at the Asian J-School Summit in Phnom Penh last week organised by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung’s Media Programme Asia. Asian News Network, an alliance of 22 media organisations from 19 Asian countries and the Rural Media Network from Pakistan also participated.

“Any of the five journalism schools is the best in the country it represents”, said the director of KAS Media Programme Asia, Torben Stephan. “The time has come to join and work on a new regional perspective of journalism education.”

The academic and course synergy will be put together under direction of Dr Violet Valdez, associate professor and executive director of ACFJ.

Valdez said, “The AMS is envisioned as a platform for sharing experiences and resources, and forging a journalism curriculum that is relevant to the culture and aspirations of Asian societies.”

The senior representatives from the five academies together came up with the principles of journalism education in Asia in which they will work together on core courses to enhance ethical and responsible journalism in the context of specific Asian societies.

AMS will also strive to provide practical experience in innovative ways of effective story telling – extending the responsible role of journalism from print, to broadcasting, social media and other technological-led outlets.

The alliance is keen on providing an understanding the appreciation of the role of journalism has in culturally-diverse democracies in Asia which is also undergoing rapid social change.

Last but not least, AMS want to together produce next generations of journalists, broadcasters and multimedia media personnel who work for public interest so as to create informed citizens and societies.

The aspiration and action plans of AMS will be presented to the Asia News Network’s annual Board of Editors’ meeting in Singapore on April 7-8.

Valdez represented ACFJ at the meeting, while Ratana Som led DMC as its acting director. Dr Duangporn Arbhasil represented Nation University in her capacity as senior executive vice president, while Ravindra Kumar is trustee of the Statesman Print Journalism School.

Prof Dr Than Win represented National Management College as its Principal. NMC operate Myanmar’s only journalism programme. NMC itself will be upgraded to a university status shortly.

Rural Media Network was represented by its president, Ehsan Ahmed Sehar; and Pana Janviroj participated on behalf of Asia News Network as its executive director.

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Education in brief: Ofsted has started inspecting academy chains

Global news


The Guardian

Ofsted visits chain of academies; could Theodore Agnew inspect himself?; telltale survey of civil servants; pupil numbers fall at free school; and the Sutton Trust: top people’s charity?

As the education secretary, Michael Gove, and minister David Laws apparently battle it out over whether Ofsted should inspect academy chains, news comes in that, it seems, the watchdog has already begun co-ordinated inspections of schools within chains.

Ofsted – keen to prove its independence from any “political agenda” over academies – has carried out near-simultaneous inspections of 16 schools run by England’s sixth-largest academy chain in the first of what may be a series of co-ordinated probes into “weaker” academy providers.

Just under half of the 34 academies within the E-Act chain were inspected last week and the week before, with at least one – Hartsbrook E-Act free school in Haringey, north London – understood to have been rated inadequate.

The move follows a statement in December’s annual report by Sir Michael Wilshaw (pictured below), chief inspector of schools, that Ofsted planned to “co-ordinate the inspection of the constituent schools in some weaker academy trusts”.

It seems unlikely to have pleased the education department (DfE), and casts fresh light on the rift between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats over Ofsted-DfE relations. Last week, Laws, the Lib Dem schools minister, said Ofsted should be given new powers to inspect academy chains’ central operations. The inspection blitz on E-Act focused on individual schools. But it will still put the performance of the chain in the spotlight.

Five of the 17 E-Act schools that had been inspected before last month’s visits were already rated as inadequate. Last year, the chain was given a “financial notice to improve” by the DfE’s Education Funding Agency. Hartsbrook would be the third free school to fail an Ofsted inspection if the unofficial verdict of inspectors is confirmed.

An Ofsted spokeswoman confirmed: “Ofsted has just completed a series of scheduled inspections over a two-week period of 16 schools which are part of the E-Act multi-academy trust.

“During these visits, inspectors have been asking additional questions to ascertain the extent to which the support and challenge provided by the trust is helping to raise standards for pupils.” She would not say whether more chains would be inspected, or which ones.


Agnew and Ofsted – an imperfect fit?

The Ofsted-DfE Lib Dem-Conservative dispute has seen a spotlight thrown on Theodore Agnew, who has reportedly been lined up by Gove to take over the chairmanship of the inspectorate from the ousted Sally Morgan.

But eyebrows would certainly be raised were Agnew, a Tory donor and trustee of the rightwing thinktank Policy Exchange, to be appointed. Agnew, an insurance and private equity magnate, is already a DfE non-executive director and has his own office and secretariat at the department. He also chairs the DfE’s “academies board”, reporting to the academies minister, Lord Nash.

Last year, the Eastern Daily Press  reported how Agnew had “become a pioneer of outsourcing to India” because it was possible to hire maths graduates there for £70 a month, rather than paying £1,000 for local recruits.

But it is perhaps his position in running his own academy chain – the Norfolk-based Inspiration Trust – that would invite most questions were Agnew to fill the Ofsted chair. With the watchdog supposed to report objectively on quality of schools irrespective of their type, how could someone so closely tied to the academies movement not be seen to compromise that impartiality? And which Ofsted official would dare tell Agnew that one of his schools had not come up to scratch?


Civil servant survey: some telltale figures

Confidence in the leadership of Gove’s department is plummeting among his own civil servants, the latest annual staff survey of 3,113 DfE officials, seen by Education Guardian, suggests. Only 32% agreed with the statement “I feel that DfE as a whole is managed well”, while 16% agreed that “when changes are made in DfE they are usually for the better”. Responses were more negative than in the previous survey, in 2012. More next time, we hope.


Pupils go missing at free school

A free school that opened only 18 months ago is in talks about making up to eight members of its staff redundant because of a budget crisis caused by a failure to recruit pupils. The Hawthorne’s free school in Sefton, Merseyside, replaced two secondaries that were closed by the local authority in 2012 because of an oversupply of school places.

The Hawthorne’s has revealed its plans after pupil numbers shrank from 432 on opening in September 2012 to around 350 last term. Now, with the school reporting only 44 first parental preferences for year 7 in September, it is planning to cut three lunchtime supervisors, a home-school liaison officer and up to four teachers, though it is set to retain eight senior managers.

DfE data shows that the school received £847,948 in extra “start-up” cash from the government, in addition to the normal per-pupil funding that every school receives. Yet a Sefton council report in March 2012 warned of 2,000 surplus places in the area.

A recent blog by local Lib Dem councillor Tony Robertson said the school had been wanted by parents. The school did not comment.


Top people at the Sutton Trust

And finally, the Sutton Trust charity recently issued a familiar warning  about the domination of the higher echelons of banking by the privately educated.

But should the trust not also be looking closer to home in its scrutiny? Its recently constituted advisory board, comprising 22 individuals who have donated to the trust, is dominated by people from finance, some seemingly fitting the pattern of coming from privileged backgrounds.

For example, Tim Bunting, a former Goldman Sachs partner, is a Wellington College old boy. Another board member, Stephen Brenninkmeijer, is listed on the website of the social investment firm he set up as “a member of the Brenninkmeijer family that founded the C&A clothing retail chain in 1841”. And Deborah Wolfson is a baronet’s daughter.

Are all board members, then, an advert for the social mobility the trust promotes? We asked the trust for information on the school backgrounds of its board members but it refused, saying: “The generous donations made by the Sutton Trust board ensure that we can provide opportunities for thousands of state-educated school students.”

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School Choice, US, Vouchers

The Friedman Foundation – for Educational Choice



Much current discussion of educational vouchers takes it for granted that their primary aim is to improve education for low-income students in urban areas. That would indeed be one of the effects of the full-fledged adoption of vouchers, and it is certainly a worthy objective, but it is very far from the major objective, at least to this supporter of vouchers.

I have nothing but good things to say about voucher programs…that are limited to a small  number of low-income participants. They greatly benefit the limited number of students who receive vouchers, enable fuller use to be made of existing excellent private schools, and provide a useful stimulus to government schools. They also demonstrate the inefficiency of government schools by providing a superior education at less than half the per-pupil cost.

But such programs are on too small a scale, and impose too many limits, to encourage the entry of innovative schools or modes of teaching. The major objective of educational vouchers is much more ambitious. It is to drag education out of the 19th century—where it has been mired for far too long—and into the 21st century, by introducing competition on a broad scale. Free market competition can do for education what it has done already for other areas, such as agriculture, transportation, power, communication and, most recently, computers and the Internet. Only a truly competitive educational industry can empower the ultimate consumers of educational services—parents and their children.

– Milton Friedman

To read more: http://www.edchoice.org/School-Choice/The-ABCs-of-School-Choice/ABCs-Blue/2014-The-ABCs-of-School-Choice-Blue

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US$129b a year wasted on poor quality education: UN

Global news, Quality

Channel NewsAsia


PARIS: A quarter of a billion children worldwide are failing to learn basic reading and maths skills in an education crisis that costs governments US$129 billion annually, the UN’s cultural agency warned in a report on Wednesday.

Inadequate teaching across the world has left a legacy of illiteracy more widespread than previously thought, UNESCO said in its annual monitoring report.

It said one in four young people in poor countries was unable to read a sentence, with the figure rising to 40 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa.

The United Nations defines “youth” as people aged between 15 and 24, although UNESCO’s definition varies across regions.

“What’s the point in an education if children emerge after years in school without the skills they need?” said Pauline Rose, the director of the nearly 500-page Education for All Global Monitoring Report.

In a third of countries analysed, fewer than three-quarters of existing primary school teachers were trained to national standards, while 120 million primary age children across the world had little or no experience of school, the UNESCO report found.

“The cost of 250 million children not learning the basics is equivalent to US$129 billion, or 10 per cent of global spending on primary education,” the report said.

Thirty-seven countries monitored by the report are losing at least half the amount they spend on primary education because children are not learning, UNESCO said.

In developed countries including France, Germany and the United Kingdom, immigrant children lag behind their peers, performing far worse on minimum learning targets.

Indigenous groups in Australia and New Zealand face similar problems, it said.

The report called for global education policies to focus not only on enrolment rates but also on equal access and better teaching.

“Access is not the only crisis — poor quality is holding back learning even for those who make it to school,” UNESCO director general Irina Bokova wrote in the report’s foreword.

She said it was clear that the educational targets set in 2000 by the UN’s Millennium Developments Goals would not be reached.

Rose said “new goals after 2015 must make sure every child is not only in school, but learning what they need to learn”.

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A private or public education: that’s the $430,000 question

Global news, School Fee

The Age


Croydon mother Linda Gibson had plenty of state and independent options when she was investigating high schools for her eldest child. But she settled on the local state school because of its academic reputation.

Her daughter Romany starts year 7 at Norwood Secondary College next week and will join the school’s high-achievers program.

“I don’t think it’s worth $20,000 a year for a private school,” Ms Gibson said. “If your child wants a challenge and has a good academic record, there are state schools that are fabulous and just fit the bill perfectly.”

A survey by the Australian Scholarships Group showed parents of a child born this year who choose private education could expect to spend $504,742 in metropolitan Melbourne from preschool to year 12. That cost is $45,747 more than the national metropolitan average.

The group said parents could factor in education costs of $68,343 from pre-school to year 12 in the state system for a child born this year.

The Australian Scholarships Group is a member-based organisation that invests money on behalf of parents to offset education costs for their children.

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The survey was based on 6900 responses from the group’s members. The figures show the “upper ranges” that parents can expect to pay. The survey focused on a range of costs, including school fees, transport, uniforms, computers, excursions and sports trips.

Australian Scholarships Group chief executive John Velegrinis said the cost of education in Australia had risen by more than double the rate of inflation in the past decade. “Education is a massive investment,” he said.

Earlier this year Fairfax Media reported annual school fees at elite private schools would reach $30,000 on average by 2016, according to analysis by a Melbourne University economist.

Ms Gibson said she was surprised by the compulsory fees charged in the public sector. “By the time we’ve bought shoes, uniforms, books, a tablet or iPad, and then added on camp, sporting and music programs, it’s $2500 in the first couple of months.”

She said her other daughter Scarlett, 5, and son Ronan, 3, would also go to state schools.

Fitzroy mother Jennifer Butler is moving her two sons, who both have learning difficulties, to Xavier College this year because she felt there was not enough support at the local state schools.

“We didn’t feel that there ?were great opportunities in our feeder public schools,” she said. “At one of the schools we felt that the facilities there, and what would be available to them, wasn’t very good. The other has a more personalised learning approach, which we didn’t think would suit our children.”

Will, 12, and Henry, 10, were at a Catholic primary school, but Ms Butler was worried they could fall between the cracks at a high school in the public system.

“We really wanted to be able to access some additional help that wasn’t automatically available to us in the public system,” she said. “In the private system, if you’re not happy, you can deal directly with the school principal. It’s more of a corporate environment that you’re paying for.”


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Education to be in focus at Barack Obama’s State of the Union address

Quality, US

Economic Times


President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address January 28, but, for my money, his secretary of education, Arne Duncan, already gave it. Just not enough people heard it.

So instead of Obama fishing around for contrived ideas to put in his speech – the usual laundry list that wins applause but no action – the president should steal Duncan’s speech and claim it as his own (I won’t tell) because it was not a laundry list and wasn’t a feel-good speech. In fact, it was a feel-bad speech, asking one big question. Are we falling behind as a country in education not just because we fail to recruit the smartest college students to become teachers or reform-resistant teachers’ unions, but because of our culture today: Too many parents and too many kids just don’t take education seriously enough and don’t want to put in the work needed today to really excel?

Is this the key cause of income inequality and persistent poverty? No. But it is surely part of their solutions, and it is a subject that Obama has not used his bully pulpit to address in any sustained way. Nothing could spark a national discussion of this more than a State of the Union address.

I’ll get to Duncan’s speech in a moment, but, if you think he’s exaggerating, listen to some teachers. Here are the guts of a letter published recently by The Washington Post from a veteran seventh-grade language arts teacher in Frederick, Md., who explained why she no longer wants to teach. (She asked to remain anonymous.)

After complaining about the “superficial curriculum that encouraged mindless conformity,” she wrote: “I decided that if I was going to teach this nonsense, I was at least going to teach it well. I set my expectations high, I kept my classroom structured, I tutored students, I provided extra practice and I tried to make class fun. … I quickly rose through the ranks of ‘favorite teacher,’ kept open communication channels with parents and had many students with solid A’s. It was about this time that I was called down to the principal’s office. … She handed me a list of about 10 students, all of whom had D’s or F’s. At the time, I only had about 120 students, so I was relatively on par with a standard bell curve. As she brought up each one, I walked her through my grade sheets that showed not low scores but a failure to turn in work – a  lack of responsibility. I showed her my tutoring logs, my letters to parents, only to be interrogated further.

“Eventually, the meeting came down to two quotes that I will forever remember as the defining slogans for public education: ‘They are not allowed to fail.’ ‘If they have D’s or F’s, there is something that you are not doing for them.’ What am I not doing for them? I suppose I was not giving them the answers. I was not physically picking up their hands to write for them. I was not following them home each night to make sure they did their work on time. I was not excusing their lack of discipline. .. Teachers are held to impossible standards, and students are accountable for hardly any part of their own education and are incapable of failing.”

I got an almost identical letter last month from a high school teacher in Oregon: “Until about 1992, I would have at least one kid in every class who simply wouldn’t do anything. A bad class might have two. Today I have 10 to 15. I recently looked back at my old exams from the ’80s. These were tough, comprehensive ones without the benefit of notes. Few would pass them today. We are dumbing down our classes. It is an inexorable downward progression in which one day all a kid will need to pass is to have a blood pressure. The kids today are not different in ‘nature.’ … The difference is that back then, although they didn’t want to, they would do the work. Today, they won’t. … This is a real conversation I had with a failing student who was being quite sincere in her comments: ‘I know you’re a really good teacher, but you don’t seem to realize I have two hours a night of Facebook and over 4,000 text messages a month to deal with. How do you expect me to do all this work?’ When I collect homework at the beginning of class, it is standard out of a class of 35, to receive only 8 to 10 assignments. If I didn’t give half-credit for late work, I think most would fail.”

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Special education class to develop students talents, potential — Mary Yap

Global news, Special Schooling



TAWAU, (Bernama) — The Special Education Class created at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Balung is believed to focus on developing the talents and potential of students according to their interests, said Deputy Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap Kain Chin.

She said the class, which begins today will accommodate students who need special attention to develop the skills of learning in schools.

“It also aims to develop skills and potential and teach them to be able to manage themselves and master the 3M skills namely reading, writing and arithmetic. It is also important to produce individuals who are able to be independent and successful in life and who can contribute to society and the country,” she said after officiating at the launch of the Special Education Class at SMK Balung, near here, today.

The principal of SMK Balung, Matnoor Sima, said students who attended the class are those who were weak in terms of learning, hyperactive and children who have a short attention span.

“Previously, a Special Education Class was established in SMK Kuhara but because it was far from Balung, the Sabah Education Department has taken the initiative to set up such a class here based on the needs of the students,” he said.

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Ofsted warns over ‘wasted potential’ of poor white pupils

Global news, Other


The Telegraph

By , Education Editor

Ofsted’s annual report is expected to highlight concerns over results achieved by white British pupils from poor homes, saying that too many are being written off at school.

White children from working-class families are being “written off” by a culture of low expectations in state schools, according to the education watchdog.

In a major report to be published this week, Ofsted will warn that a failure to raise standards among tens of thousands of poor British pupils represents an “unacceptable waste of human potential”, the Telegraph understands.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector, will say that improvements have been seen among deprived children from every ethnic group over the last six years but progress has been too slow in schools dominated by working-class white children.

Last year, just a quarter of poor white British boys gained five good GCSEs.

This compared with around four-in-10 deprived boys from black families, half of those from Asian backgrounds and almost two-thirds of poor Chinese teenagers.

The “poverty of expectation” in the white working-class community risks storing up major problems for the nation amid a rise in benefit claimants and crime rates, the watchdog says.

It is among a number of factors preventing English schools climbing major international league tables in the wake of a damning analysis of global education standards last week, it is claimed

The comments will be made as part of the Ofsted annual report – an analysis of more than 21,000 state schools and colleges in England.

Ofsted will also:

• Highlight concerns over the continuing problem of low-level disruption in and out of the classroom, saying too many teachers tolerate pupils who fail to pay attention, show disrespect, flout bans on mobile phones and hurl verbal abuse at adults;

• Say that some teachers are attempting to cram too much into classes in a bid to impress Ofsted inspectors, claiming that a “busy” lesson rarely provides pupils with a good educational experience;

• Criticise the continuing underperformance of some schools in middle-class areas that allow pupils to coast;

• Raise further fears over a “patchwork of provision” in the education system, with particular concerns over standards seen in East Anglia, which now has the worst-performing primary schools in the country;

• Call on the Government to provide more incentives – such as higher pay – to entice the best head teachers to work in less fashionable areas that often struggle to recruit top staff.

The conclusions follow the publication of a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that showed standards among 15-year-olds in the UK had stagnated, with pupils now up to three years behind those in the Far East for maths.

Sir Michael, the former head teacher of a flagship academy in Hackney, East London, will insist that the watchdog is winning the “battle against mediocrity” in state schools following a controversial toughening up of the Ofsted inspection regime.

Changes made since his appointment two years ago include cutting the amount of notice given to schools before an inspection and rebranding satisfactory schools as “requires improvement”.

The move has had a “galvanising effect” in the classroom, according to Sir Michael, with more schools highly-rated now than at any other time in Ofsted’s 20-year history.

According to figures, almost eight-in-10 schools were ranked as good or outstanding at the end of the last academic year compared with seven-in-10 just 12 months earlier.

Only 19 per cent of schools require improvement and three per cent are inadequate, compared with 31 per cent that fell into the lowest categories under the old system.

But the Ofsted report – published on Wednesday – will warn that a failure to instil the right learning culture in many schools still holds back England’s education system.

White British schoolchildren from poorer backgrounds, in particular, are being “written off far too often”, it will claim.

Figures show that white British pupils account for almost two-thirds of those nationally who are eligible for free school meals – households earning less than £16,000 a year – yet results among these children have improved more slowly than those for other ethnic groups since 2007.

In a previous interview with the Telegraph, Sir Michael said working-class white pupils were suffering because old-fashioned values such as “self-help” and support for education had been eroded in many post-industrial cities or coastal towns with high levels of unemployment.

He said teachers from the best schools in these areas acted as “surrogate parents” – escorting pupils to bus stops, helping with homework, providing meals and giving them advice – in place of families who struggle to support their children”.

“We need to look back as well as forward,” he said.

“By that I mean, working-class communities in the past valued education, with that spirit of working men’s institutes and technical colleges and so on.

“Those communities thought long and hard about the future of their children and supported schools and were very much into self-help. We need to bring that back.”



A “patchwork of provision” across the English education system is preventing the country’s schoolchildren catching up their peers in the Far East, Ofsted will warn.

In a report, Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector, will say that the wide gulf in standards between the best and worst performing parts of the country is acting as a “brake on progress” nationally.

His annual report will reveal that too many schools in traditionally affluent areas are letting children down as teachers allow pupils to coast.

The watchdog will raise particular concerns over the East of England – a region containing Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk – where primary schools now perform worse than those in any other part of the country, despite containing many affluent towns and villages.

He will effectively name and shame the worst areas while heaping praise on those that have made the most progress in the last 12 months – the second year in a row Ofsted has carried out the analysis.

Coventry and Derby languished at the bottom of an Ofsted league table in 2012 but both have made “substantial progress”, it is claimed.

Sir Michael will also highlight improvements made in London, saying the city now has one of the largest concentrations of good and outstanding schools, despite being seen as an “educational basket case” in the 70s and 80s.

The report will say that major regional variation needs to be ironed out to drive England up international league tables.

This includes greater better incentives for top head teachers to work in “less fashionable” parts of the country with the greatest need for improvements.

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PISA: China tops. India has fled the race

Global news, Primary Education, Secondary Education

The Economics Times


PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) scores are just in. China is on top. Asian countries dominate from China to South Korea, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Macau. The US lags. The UK does slightly better. Scandinavian countries, on top for a long time, have been slipping.

So where is India? No where. In 2009 study, India ranked 73 out of 74 nations. So to avoid embarrassment, the Indian government decided that it will not participate in the latest study. Weirdly, the Indian government has cited the disconnect between the testing parameters and what our children are taught in school as the reason not to participate.

PISA is a global study conducted by OECD every three years to assess 15-year olds on their performance in maths, science and reading. The data hs increasingly been used to assess the quality of education and its impact on incomes across nations.

Assessing the results, four important things emerge. One, some of the great powers of the 20th century – US, UK, France, Russia – do not get top rankings. Two, Asia by and large is doing well – but don’t talk of India. Three, new emerging countries in South America like Brazil, East European countries like Estonia, Poland, Vietnam are improving their scores. Four, Scandinavian countries like Finland, once known for their education system, have been slipping.

PISA scores will push governments in different countries to introspect where they have gone wrong with their education system and how they can get better.

But in India – a nation with one of the youngest population in the world – the government must first learn to acknowledge that we have a problem. Fleeing the study serves no purpose.

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‘Govt to increase education budget upto 4pc of GDP gradually’

Finances & Budgets, Global news, Higher Education


Business Recorder


Minister of State for Interior, Education, Training and Standards in Higher Education, Baligh ur Rahman said the government would gradually increase the budget for education and will take it to four per cent of the GDP.

He was speaking as chief guest at the Vice Chancellors’ Committee Meeting which was attended by Vice Chancellors and Rectors from all public sector universities of the country. The meeting was organized by Higher Education Commission (HEC).

He emphasized that less developed areas and institutions will be given preference for disbursement of funds.

The minister appreciated the performance of HEC and universities across the country and ensured that the government will do every possible effort for further development of higher education sector.

Appreciating the university heads for their role in strengthening the higher education sector, he said that their suggestions for improvement in the education sector, including primary and secondary education, will be taken seriously.

He also mentioned Ministry’s request to HEC for developing minimum entry standards for universities of Pakistan.

The minister agreed with the Vice Chancellors that education should be a federal subject, especially curriculum development. “If each province develops its own curriculum, it will create disconnect among different units of the country,” he said.

In his welcome address, Chairman HEC, Engr. Imtiaz Hussain Gilani said that proposed changes in the higher education setup in some provinces are dangerous for future of university education.

He requested the government to ensure the autonomy of the higher learning institutions otherwise “it will compromise the quality of education.”

Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed reiterated HEC’ stance that access to higher education will be increased, adding that the universities should be very careful while opening new campuses and offering affiliation to colleges.

He stressed the importance of improving quality and not compromising it at any cost.

Mentioning HEC’s concern regarding mushrooming growth of sub campuses, he said “Universities are allowed to open sub-campuses but only after fulfilling HEC’s requisite NOC.”

During the meeting, the Vice Chancellors showed concern on the institution specific amendments being incorporated in the Acts of different universities/degree awarding institutions.

They observed that such interventions could derail the operations, management and standards of higher education and research, and impede the progress currently being achieved in the higher education sector.

A committee would be constituted to review these amendments and propose a Model United Universities Act for adoption all across the country, after briefing the concerned ministries and the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Funding constraints faced by public sector universities were also discussed in detail by the academics along with placement of fresh PhDs in universities.

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