John is a Cuban teacher who moved to Canada in 1997 and faced difficulty finding work

This content comes from our newly released interactive youth version of the 2019 GEM Report.

teacher johnThe reluctance of some countries to recognize teacher qualifications across borders is one of the most important challenges for migrant teachers.

Becoming a teacher in a foreign country is really challenging. I had two or three interviews where I said that I was not a Canadian citizen yet, and kind of never got a call again. Some universities’ requirements are very strict for foreign teachers. Some would only grant me a quarter of a Canadian credit for every Cuban credit. Some thought that a teacher with an accent from a small Caribbean country did not have what it takes or have much to offer.

We, foreign teachers, bring our culture, different teaching perspectives, experiences and values from our old country to Canada with the end goal of helping our students become lifelong learners.’

Teacher migration can create shortages in the countries they leave. Caribbean countries have experienced high teacher emigration in recent decades, not least because of active recruitment efforts in the United Kingdom and the United States. Facing shortages in public schools in the early 2000s, the New York City Education Board increased international recruitment, attracting hundreds of teachers from the Caribbean. For small island states, even small numbers of emigrating teachers can create significant shortages. Continue reading

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Respecting indigenous languages in education is core to reducing exclusion

indigenous languagesThis year’s International Mother Language Day coincides with the declaration of 2019 by the UN as the International Year for Indigenous Languages, which “matter for development, peace building and reconciliation”.

mld 3We have come a long way for this to be hailed globally as important. In the past, in much of the world, education systems not only failed to provide relevant education to indigenous populations but focused instead on forcing assimilation through schooling. The legacy of discrimination and stigmatization facing indigenous people in rich countries — such as in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States — has received insufficient attention but is clearly visible in literacy data.

Countries are seeking ways to address the challenges indigenous populations face. The Canadian government has been attempting to redress the legacy of residential schooling that separated indigenous children from their families and aimed to assimilate them, including punishing them for speaking their own language.

Times have changed. For starters, there is a growing sense of awareness and advocacy about how important it is for education systems not to contribute towards the loss of language. Aside from inclusion, one key reason for respecting indigenous language in education is the importance of incorporating traditional knowledge into schools. This is not trivial: these days, for example, traditional knowledge is recognized as a major resource for adapting to climate change. This was why Mundiya Kepanga, from the Huli Tribe in Papua New Guinea attended the launch event for our 2016 GEM Report on Education for People and Planet, for example, describing how, in his school he “learned to live together in harmony and take care of our planet”. Continue reading

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Sazhida runs a kindergarten for pastoralist children in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan during the summer

This content comes from our newly released interactive youth version of the 2019 GEM Report, presented today at the UN Youth Forum in New York.

sazhida blog 1Jailoo kindergartens provide education for the children of pastoralist families who move to mountain pastures (jailoo) in the summer to fatten their livestock for the winter. The kindergartens ensure that children do not fall behind in their studies while their families are on the move. Lessons are designed to match the lifestyle of the children and teachers are equipped with culturally responsive teaching materials.

‘I teach lessons related to livelihoods,’ Sazhida told us. ‘For example, we hold a lesson on the topic of kurut, and so we teach how to cook it. Children develop their speech and learn diligence, and also learn to count and establish order and cleanliness.

Also, in lessons, children learn to paint on stones, and make a herbarium; in this way, we develop a love for nature. In lessons, we also teach national traditions and national games.’

Pioneered by the Aga Khan Foundation Mountain Societies Development Support Programme, 21 jailoo kindergartens are currently operating. They follow the national pre-school curriculum and employ teachers trained in current best practices for early childhood development. An internal assessment found that children attending these kindergartens scored significantly higher in their tests in autumn than those who did not attend them. Continue reading

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Additional pay-outs to the poorest students announced in Thailand

In late 2018, it was announced that about 600,000 students considered to be ‘very poor’ will receive an extra $24 per semester by the Equitable Education Fund (EEF), created by the government .

Inequalities are a concern and a recent report by Credit Suisse named Thailand the most unequal country in the world, with one percent of the population owning two thirds of its wealth.

Using the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE) we can see how far some of the inequalities stretch. While almost all the richest on average complete lower secondary education, this drops to just 67% for the poorest young men in urban areas.

thailand blog 1

The 2017 Thai constitution makes a provision for EEF to be an independently managed fund. As a result EEF has an independent board, appointed by the cabinet but nominated by the Independent Committee for Education Reform. EEF’s programmes and budget are developed and implemented independently. This new public fund targeting the poorest indicates that solutions to education exclusion require innovative thinking. Continue reading

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Malaysia says it will redress the gender bias in its textbooks

Last year, social media helped call out an infographic being studied by nine year olds in a Year 2 health and physical education textbook in Malaysia showing that girls should protect their modesty or risk being shamed and having their family’s honour questioned.

Screenshot 2019-02-12 at 11.00.24The infographic has now been covered up in the textbooks, with a correction page issued to schools.

The graphic on the left taken from the textbook in question is about a girl called Amira who it says would be shamed if she did not look after the ‘modesty of her genitals’ by dressing modestly, if she went to quiet places alone and did not get changed behind closed doors.

The content raised eyebrows for the way that it perpetuated victim-blaming for sexual assault among young girls. As a result of the clamour, the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development announced in January that it would take a closer look at the lack of sex education in Malaysian schools.

This is not the first time that parents and the community have managed to use the power of their voices to change textbook content. The 2017/8 GEM Report showed that advocacy efforts in the USA by the Texas Freedom Network, for instance, saw publishers revise questionable text that was distorting climate change facts. Continue reading

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Unlock education for everyone

By Tisha Verma, Save the Children

2019 is a critical year for children and young people everywhere. It’s critical in building a world where every child gets the chance to learn.

The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in July in New York will include a review of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4), which promises quality inclusive education for all by 2030.

Whilst there are some exceptions, an honest appraisal of progress towards achieving SDG4 will point to serious and often growing gaps.  We know that too many children and young people are still being denied access to education, particularly those that face deprivation and marginalisation:

  • 262 million children and young people remain out of school
  • Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school
  • Twice as many girls as boys will never start school
  • Half of children with disabilities in lower and middle-income countries do not go to school.

And when we consider those children who do access school, we see that many children are in school, but are not learning and are not realising their right to a quality, inclusive education. A staggering 387 million children of primary school age will not achieve minimum proficiency levels in reading; two-thirds of them – 262 million – are in school.

send my friend to school.PNGIt doesn’t have to be this way though, and this year poses some real opportunities to unlock education for everyone— but only if we nail down exactly how we are going to do it and where the money is going to come from.

The Send My Friend to School coalition in the UK today launches their 2019 campaign, ‘Unlock education for everyone’.  Thousands of schools and young people across the UK will create and present paper keys to their local MP, calling on the UK to give all children the chance of an education.

And the campaign has launched with a new report, ‘Unlock Education for Everyone’, which identifies why inequality in education persists and what needs to be done to tackle it. Continue reading

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An e-textbook scandal rocks Antigua

antigua 1A couple of weeks ago, the leader of the opposition in Antigua, Jamale Pringle, called for the resignation of the Minister of Education, Michael Browne. Why?

The heat has been turned up over the matter of some 6,000 e-books due to be used in secondary schools. These books were contracted from an Indian firm, FortunaPix, for $9 million. The heart of the debate lies over an additional licensing fee of US$250 for every eBook user per year, totaling $5 million per annum, that was never brought to the attention of the Cabinet.

The Education Minister is being accused of not following correct contractual procedures. Some are even questioning whether he received kick-backs during the procurement, while leaving the country with this annual bill. This has resulted in the Prime Minister warning of consequences for those who signed the contract. It also led to the Education Minister telling the 2019 budget debate “There was no hanky panky. There was no attempt to deceive, there was no attempt to cover-up, there was no effort to hide.”

This is not the first time the government has decided to launch into e-books. The same initiative was tried in 2016, with the following statement on the government’s press release “The move to digitize the textbooks is expected to significantly reduce the expense incurred by the Board of Education. The statutory body spends more than four million dollars annually on textbooks to meet the demands of students.Continue reading

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