Let teachers teach: The dangers of expanding teacher workloads

wtdToday, on World Teachers’ Day, we look at one of the findings in the 2017/8 GEM Report on accountability in education due out later this month. The Report celebrates the undeniably critical role that teachers play in any education system: they hold the primary responsibility for educating the students in their care. In recent years, however, the next GEM Report shows that, particularly in high-income countries, pressure on teachers appears to be piling on as more and more responsibilities are placed within their remit. This is often due to the increasing focus on accountability by governments and schools. How can this be avoided?

Accountability and teacher workload

The spectrum of responsibilities falling on teachers’ shoulders often include having to design curriculum, undertake administrative tasks, participate in internal evaluations, help with extracurricular activities, support students’ wellbeing and assist in the hiring process of other teachers. Our next Report shows, for instance, that teachers participatinwtd1g in the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) spent about two hours a week on extracurricular activities, on average, ranging from about half an hour in Sweden and Finland to nearly eight hours in Japan.

In addition to these extra-curricular activities, the 2017/8 GEM Report shows that teachers also have far more requests to account and report, often due to decentralisation and greater school autonomy. About 75% of teachers in Finland and 95% of their peers in Sweden reported that their documentation responsibilities had increased. The issue is when these reporting requests appear to be unreasonable, and when teachers’ ability to teach is being impinged upon. For example, in England, 56% of teachers argued that data collection and management caused unnecessary workload for them, and 93% of teachers and some school leaders viewed workload as a ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ serious problem. Continue reading

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Education at a Glance 2017: How is the OECD engaging with SDG 4?

oecdThe OECD flagship publication, Education at a Glance, has turned its attention to Sustainable Development Goal 4. This is important for confirming the universality of the agenda. But it also carries implications about how the OECD, as an organization representing rich countries, engages in global processes.

Adjusting Education at a Glance to the SDG era

Few organizations can match the innovative contributions of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to international education over the past 20 years. While the spotlight tends to fall on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), its work on issues ranging from school resources to teacher motivation to early childhood education quality helps generate interesting debates on education policy, monitoring and evaluation. The Global Education Monitoring Report team has referred increasingly to OECD research, as a recent bibliometric analysis has shown.

A common thread links OECD innovations, going back to the Indicators of Education Systems programme in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which resulted in its flagship publication, Education at a Glance. Last month saw the release of the latest in the series, Education at a Glance 2017. The report has set high standards for clarity and attention to detail – and this edition is no exception.

The Education at a Glance series has been built on four pillars of indicators: education system output; financial and human resources; access and participation; and learning environments. As of 2016, the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and in particular SDG 4 on education has been superimposed as a second, parallel framework. Last year, Education at a Glance included a special introduction on SDG 4. We welcomed it as “one of the clearest signs that this is a universal agenda, not one dictated by rich countries to poor countries” given that until then OECD member states had dismissed international agendas, such as the MDGs and EFA, as irrelevant to their national education needs. Continue reading

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The Rohingya Children of Karachi

By Baela Raza Jamil, CEO Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA)

“Oh Allah I seek Refuge from Being Unlettered, Undocumented and Vulnerable- please protect and enable me to reach my potential.”

1Areeba is a Rohingya belonging to a migrant family from Myanmar. Her ancestors escaped from their land when it was Burma. They ran for their lives during the vicious recurrent cycles of purges against them as a minority group. Areeba was born in Karachi, near a vast wetland, by the sea and close to a huge garbage dumping ground; it was in this sprawl of Pakistan’s mega city where her family sought refuge.

Until age 11 she was unable to enroll in any school, not because there were not any schools nearby, but because what they had to offer was not what her family wanted and they remained fearful of her ‘undocumented’ status as a migrant. Instead, she was enrolled in a nearby madrassa to learn the Quran, something all Muslims must do, especially girls prior to being married off early, as per family customs. Her cousin, barely 20, is mother to six children and expecting a seventh.

Areeba’s story is captured in a book called “Mapping Migrations”, which is a co-creation by children of her neighbourhood, Bachon Say Tabdeli (Transforming through Children), Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) and the Children’s Literature Festival (CLF), a social movement for learning and critical thinking. And taking part in this book was transformative: within a year Areeba managed to leapfrog her years of neglect and silence about her identity and aspirations, and to escape child marriage, unlike her sad cousin.  How did that happen?  Continue reading

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Learning to realize education’s promise – a look at the 2018 WDR

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 18.43.18For the first time in forty years, the World Bank’s World Development Report (WDR), released on Tuesday, focuses exclusively on education. We are pleased to see its core messages resonating so well with our past reports, especially the 2013/4 EFA Global Monitoring Report on teaching and learning. The WDR is a welcome addition to the Bank’s flagship series. It shows that many changes have happened in the past 40 years in education, not least in the Bank’s thinking about it.

With its crisp presentation and clear threads of argument, the report is aligned with the Bank’s 2020 Education Strategy, which marked a strategic shift to learning over schooling when it was published in 2011. The WDR reiterates that the benefits of education are poorly linked to years spent in school and urges countries to engage in system-wide commitment to improve learning outcomes. Its main messages are to assess learning, as the key to re-align education systems; to act on evidence; and to align actors so they work in the direction of improved learning outcomes. Continue reading

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Evaluating GPE’s self-evaluation

gpe1This week, the Strategy and Impact Committee of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Board is to meet to discuss, among many issues, the ‘Results Report’, which is the Partnership’s monitoring document; and the ‘Knowledge and Innovation Exchange’ (KIX), the proposed new platform for financing research, policy analysis and global public goods to be set up after the replenishment of the GPE Fund is completed.

Indeed, attention to GPE is likely to grow a lot in coming months, as the broad education community helps them campaign in the run up to their replenishment conference, which, as announced this week, will take place in Senegal in February 2018.

The way that GPE now evaluates itself is laid bare in its recent Results Report, published in June. This is the first GPE monitoring report to relate back to a clear monitoring framework and a theory of change. It marks a positive change in line with recommendations dating back to the evaluation of the EFA Fast Track Initiative in 2009-2010.

Having said that, the language in which some of these ‘results’ are couched might raise a few eyebrows for a critical commentator. For example, when it is argued that “745,000 more children completed primary school across the Partnership in 2014 than in 2013”  the reader is led to believe that this was an achievement of the GPE alone that may not have happened otherwise. It is questionable, likewise, why the Report feels the need to claim that “13 out of 20 developing country partners have shown improvement in learning outcomes”. Continue reading

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Two years down, 13 to go – Checking in on our progress towards the SDGs

Linkedin_Hero_#ACT4SDGsToday, September 25th 2017, marks two years since the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted. This momentous anniversary is an occasion for us all to make sure the SDGs remain high on the global agenda. It’s also a chance to join the UN SDG campaign in their Global Day of Action, which appeals to civil society, volunteers and citizens (#Act4SDGs).

Mountain editOne of the key elements of this campaign is to check our progress towards the SDG goals. So, how far are we from achieving SDG 4?

In last year’s Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) we warned that, if current trends continue, we’re not likely to see universal primary education by 2030 in many countries, let alone universal lower or upper secondary education. Lower middle income countries aren’t expected to hit this target until 2054, and low income countries are a staggering 58 years behind schedule: in those countries, universal primary education isn’t expected until 2088. Some countries won’t see universal primary completion until the end of the century.

Of course, universal enrolment at lower and upper secondary is a key part of the SDG4 target as well. Under the scenario that past growth rates will continue, universal lower secondary completion would be achieved in 2059, and universal upper secondary completion only in 2084.

The message is clear: we must act, and we must act now. #Act4SDGs ! Continue reading

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Losing out on learning: Action to ensure refugee children get an education

By Joseph Nhan-O’Reilly, Head of Education Policy & Advocacy and Sébastien Hine, Education Research Adviser at Save the Children

peace 1The world is now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. According to UNHCR, an unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from their homes. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. A new Save the Children report, Losing Out On Learning, tracks progress made in the countries that pledged at the Leaders’ Summit at the UN General Assembly last year. It shows only modest advances have been made in a year. Slow progress leaves refugees with an uncertain future and the countries that host them with inadequate support.

The refugee education crisis
The state of provision for refugee education around the world is its own emergency, as the 2019 GEM Report being drafted on migration, displacement and education will confirm. More than half of all the refugee children in the world – 3.5 million – are not in school. In the last year alone refugee children have missed more than 700 million days of school, with this figure increasing by 1.9 million days every day.

peace day 2Missing out on education means children are missing opportunities to learn, which we ordinarily do everything possible to minimise, including via national laws. When children are out of school their learning is not only no longer advancing but is also likely to regress. In fact, the longer children are out of school the more they lose skills and knowledge they have already acquired. Continue reading

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