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Utahns rank education as a priority. Did that align with what lawmakers did this year?

Utahns think providing better support to teachers and addressing the teacher shortage are the most important strategies for ensuring students get a great education, according to the nonprofit Envision Utah.

The organization surveyed 505 adults last December before the start of the 2023 Utah Legislative Session. Respondents rated public education as the most important issue right now, ahead of water resources and inflation.

Within public education, respondents rated school safety, student mental health and teacher pay as the most important education policy priorities. Most said there would be positive outcomes to improving compensation like more people would become teachers and turnover would decrease, which would benefit students.

More controversial issues about what is taught in school, like transparency in curriculum and the appropriateness of books in libraries were further down on the list.

Jason Brown, vice president of education and communications, said Envision Utah wanted to do this survey partly because of the transparency and sensitive materials bills run during the 2022 legislative session, as well as a national focus on controversial topics in schools.

“We wanted to see if Utahns felt like those were the big things that needed to be focused on. And the answer that we got from the polling seems to be ‘no.’” Brown said.

The survey showed that how racism and gender are taught in school remain polarizing issues in Utah, but they are not the most important education issue. Brown wasn’t surprised, but he was a little relieved to see Utahns were so supportive of teachers.

During the recent legislative session, Brown felt lawmakers did not spend as much time on issues surrounding curriculum and transparency as they did in 2022. He said one of the bills headlining the session had a teacher pay raise component, in addition to creating a new school voucher program.

“As outsiders felt pretty good about that because it seems like that was in line with how Utahns are thinking about and prioritizing these issues,” Brown said.

Envision Utah’s survey did not ask respondents how they felt about vouchers, school choice or scholarship programs, a question that Brown wished they had some data on.

Republican Rep. Dan Johnson, a retired educator and vice chair of the House Education Committee, called this session “historic” because of the funding allocated to public education and the engagement of parents. He said in addition to school choice and funding, lawmakers were also focused on supporting teachers and will continue to focus on them.

“I think that sends a strong message that the Legislature really supported teachers.”

Johnson acknowledged that some teachers did not feel that support, especially because of the number of curriculum and sensitive materials bills that were run.

“Even though we give them $64 million for additional days to do their work, the biggest pay increase in the history of the state, it still doesn’t feel good. Why is that? It’s because they keep feeling like the Legislature sometimes is the gorilla in the room, hitting them over the head with a sledgehammer. And I think the teachers, a lot of them kind of felt like that. And I don’t blame them.”

During the interim session, Johnson said he will be working with House Education Committee Chair Rep. Candice Pierucci to monitor the number of bills dealing with curriculum and encourage lawmakers that are running these bills to combine them so there are not as many to deal with.

Democratic Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, also a retired educator, does not feel like supporting teachers was a priority this session and called it lip service, especially because the school voucher bill was combined with the pay raise.

“We love you, but we’re going to appropriate $42 million to encourage parents to take their kids out of public school and put them in either homeschool or any kind of private school.”

To Spackman Moss, supporting teachers would look like lawmakers giving them a bigger pay raise and showing that they respect the professionalism of teachers.

The average starting teacher salary in Utah is $44,349, according to data that the National Education Association released in 2022. Lawmakers gave teachers a $6,000 raise, which is a $4,200 salary increase and a $1,800 increase in benefits.

Brown said Envision Utah would like to see starting pay be between $60,000 and $70,000. He would like those salaries to keep growing throughout a teacher’s career so that they’re making more than $110,00 by the time they retire.

“If we really want to make sure that we have the best teachers possible, and if we really want to make sure we get over the teacher shortage, then we definitely need to have much more competitive salaries.”

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Every child deserves to be able to read a simple text by age ten

By Vicky Ford MP, Minister for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, United Kingdom

Being able to read sets children on a path to success: in school, at work, wherever life may take them; and provides choice for them on that journey. Yet six in ten children globally are denied this right. The picture is worse in low-and middle-income countries, and in sub-Saharan Africa, almost 90 per cent of ten-year-olds lack this basic reading skill.

Vast numbers of young people are out of school altogether – 244 million, even before the pandemic. Girls and children living with a disability are disproportionately affected. Following the impact of COVID-19 and school closures, the UK’s work on girls’ education, is even more important. A missed education snatches away the bright future that every child deserves. It is a catastrophic waste of energy, ideas and opportunities.

Education should never sit at the bottom of an agenda. It should be a top priority, given its ability to solve global challenges and empower individuals and communities. This is why, under our Presidency, the UK inspired G7 leaders to endorse two new global targets for low and lower-middle-income countries: Getting 40 million more girls into school, and 20 million more girls reading by age ten.

We called on the rest of the global community to help achieve these milestones, which we want to hit by 2026; transforming lives around the world. Meanwhile, we will support countries to achieve their ambitious commitments as they work towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 on quality education and continue backing the World Bank’s learning poverty work. Together, we will drive progress towards quality education for all. At the forefront of our efforts will be the most marginalised and vulnerable girls. Those most at risk of being left behind through poverty, disability, or the effects of conflict or natural disaster.

This report is the first in an annual series, tracking progress against the two G7-endorsed global objectives on girls’ education. It demonstrates that transformation is possible, but this will take an enormous effort on a global scale. It will require effective policies, targeted interventions, and quality data. Some countries are leading the way to ensure that all girls are in school and learning, and we must learn from these examples.

We must also strive towards the broader goal of gender equality in education – and through education – globally. Schools have a pivotal role to play in challenging harmful gender norms and preventing violence. They must deliver a safe environment for all children, offering equal opportunities for all to learn.

Our focus will remain on those who are hardest to reach:

  • The girl born into poverty; who lives in a remote rural area.
  • The girl born in a refugee camp; or caught up in conflict.
  • The girl who is disabled; or malnourished.

If we can reach her and ensure she is safe, learning and thriving in school, then we can do the same for all children. This is why we will continue our urgent and decisive action to help ensure that every child, everywhere, gets the education they deserve.


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The implications of school choice in the United States

By Frank Adamson, Assistant Professor of Education Leadership and Policy Studies at California State University, Sacramento and author of a background paper for the 2021/2 GEM Report

The title of the 2021/2 GEM Report, Who chooses? Who loses? invokes the notion of ‘school choice’, a term encapsulating Milton Friedman’s market-based theory that if students choose schools, those schools must outcompete each other for customers (students), with this competition yielding higher quality education.  By asking Who chooses?, the report raises the issue that schools may actually choose students instead of students choosing schools. The second question of Who loses? self-evidently addresses the global reality that many students lack sufficient educational opportunity.

This blog addresses findings from the GEM report in the context of the United States in three key areas: segregation, competition, and state responsibility.

Education segregation in the United States

Segregation directly addresses the GEM Report’s second question of Who loses? The historical legacies of slavery and segregation in the United States created racial and class divisions that remain today, with segregation in education having increased over the last 30 years.

Despite the desegregation intention of the 1954 Brown vs. Board supreme court case, Jargowsky reports that students in primary and secondary education are “substantially more racially and economically segregated than people not enrolled in school”. Furthermore, our 2019 study found that students of colour in urban contexts often attend intensely segregated schools enrolling over 90% students of colour. Most identify education segregation and inequity as major problems, but market-based, competitive approaches have not alleviated these issues.

Education competition in the United States

Briefly, non-state actor involvement in the U.S. context usually means spending public tax dollars on self-managed schools (the charter school model) or giving students vouchers or tax credits (again tax dollars) to attend private schools, as outlined in the GEM Report (p. 47). Our 2019 analysis shows that charter schools account for 7% of all schools and 5.7% of all enrollments, while “vouchers account for merely 0.34% of U.S. national student enrollments” and “only 0.02% of families nationally participated in Individual Tax Credits, Tax Credit Scholarships, and Education Savings Accounts” (pp. 16-17). While these percentages may not appear substantial, localized analysis produces a very different picture.

The distribution of the most prevalent form of non-state actor involvement, charter schools, varies substantially across the country, with 57% of charters operating in urban environments despite only 25% of students living there. Within charter schools, African American and Latinx students are over-represented, while white students, who comprise around half of the public school population, account for only one-third of charter enrolments. Over 30 school districts in the country have greater than 25% charter school enrolment, including many large cities serving predominantly students of colour, such as New Orleans (93% charter enrolment), Detroit (53%), Washington D.C. (46%), Oakland, California (29%), and Los Angeles (26%).

A heat map of charter schools illustrates their over-representation in urban districts and reveals the intersection of longstanding education segregation by race and class through the targeted deployment of school choice in the form of charter schools.

Figure 1. United States school districts with charter school enrolment greater than 10%

Note: Visualization produced using data from the National Alliance for Public Charters, 2016 and adapted from Adamson, F. and Galloway, M. (2019) (EPAA open-source). Circle size proportional to enrolment.

The rise of charter schools has seen communities lose their public schools as policy-makers close them or convert them to charter schools. For instance, research in the Chicago system shows that, as education privatization increased citywide, African Americans became increasingly segregated into low-income and uni-racial schools due to both enrolment in charter schools and public school closures. Resistance to these school closings by the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, including a 34-day hunger strike, motivated members to create a national black-and-brown led organization called the Journey for Justice Alliance (J4J). Led by Jitu Brown, J4J now advocates in over 30 cities for education justice.

Competition in charter schools often leads to student selection, one of the most detrimental set of practices to educational equity. Selection occurs when schools counsel- or force-out students using different strategies, including a lack of transparency in registration practices, hints to parents that other schools would better serve their children, and schools finding reasons to suspend or expel students with low test scores.

None of these practices is hypothetical. I encountered them in countless interviews while researching a detailed report on New Orleans entitled Whose choice? that describes the myriad ways in which charter schools selected students and stratified the entire district. A new book by Welner and Mommandi, released last year, delves even further, describing 13 different ways in which charter schools choose students to shape their enrolment.

Examples of the cost of competition for students do not stem only from New Orleans and the United States. This GEM Report also describes the collateral damage of competition, noting that “non-state actors may increase cost-efficiency by hiring young or unqualified teachers” or that “non-state providers may be tempted to reduce inputs by focusing on subjects whose results are measured, which may matter for their funding” (p. 13). In these cases, the quality of education suffers through inexperienced teachers and/or truncated curriculum. Furthermore, when states allow, or even support, systems with these results, they abrogate their legal responsibility as the duty-bearer for the human right to education, as described in human rights law and The Abidjan Principles.

State responsibility in the United States

This third issue, state responsibility, starts with the acknowledgement that the pursuit of market-based approaches in the United States has exacerbated inequity and segregation in many contexts. A different course for public education provision could include investing in full-service community schools. According to J4J Alliance, these schools would have engaging, culturally relevant and challenging curriculum, educator roles in professional development and assessment design and use, and wrap around supports such as health and other care for students needing those services. Overall, the U.S. case provides an important and instructive example that other countries should examine before scaling up similar education approaches.

This brings us to a final international point about policy, politics, and influence. While the GEM Report does call attention to the myriad actors and political acrimony that divides opinion on the role of markets and governments in education, the report does not go far enough in naming the power asymmetries in terms of finance and access of different constituencies (e.g., technology companies and venture capital funds having orders of magnitude more resources and policy influence than civil society). To that end, I would add a third question to the report – Who chooses? Who loses? And who benefits? – to interrogate how non-state actors derive profit from the education sector and to help us remember that students should remain the recipients of our education expenditures and resources.

At a more fundamental level, the GEM Report could also have more explicitly identified who stands to benefit from different approaches. There is an inherent conflict of interest between the universal right to education and the goal of increasing profit. As we face increasing global challenges, we cannot afford to further fracture education provision by diluting public investment in the interest of private profit; instead, we must collectively deliver on the vision of the U.N. and treaty law that guarantees the right to a high-quality public education for all students.

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Kenya: Alarm as 4000 school girls get pregnant in Machakos since March

Africa/Kenya/21-06-2020/Author and Source:

Over 4000 school girls in Machakos County have been impregnated in last three months. Among these, 200 are under 14 years of age.

This is according to the County Children’s Officer Salome Muthama speaking on Tuesday during the celebrations to mark the Day of the African Child at Machakos Rescue Center in Katoloni, Machakos town.

Ms Muthama described the situation as worrying. She assured that legal action would be taken against those responsible for the beastly action. The Children’s officer blamed the long school holiday occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic for the upsurge and implored parents to take more responsibility over their children.

“As we celebrate this day here today, just within this Covid-19 period alone, some 4000 girls have been impregnated in our county!” Ms Muthama declared as she blamed parents for not taking keen interest in bringing up their children thus exposing them to the trickeries of wayward adults and bad peer influence.

“This is a very big number and I am calling upon parents to involve themselves fully in taking care of their children especially the girl child,” the officer added.

She noted that following the partial lockdown of major towns like Nairobi and Mombasa due to Covid-19 pandemic, most parents had sent their children to the rural areas where they are being taken care of by aged grandparents who are unable to take keen care of the youths.

“These helpless grandmothers are not able to closely watch over the youths, and as a result the young ones are introduced to bad habits or even molested by peers and other unscrupulous people thus leading to such calamities such as these pregnancies,” she observed.

She said it was not enough for the parents to send food and money from the towns for the children they had dumped at their own grandparents’ homes noting that it behooves them to stay with their children and mentor them.

“Parents should stay with their children so that they watch over them closely and provide appropriate guidance instead of dumping them at their grandparents’ homes claiming that they are protecting them from the Corona pandemic,” she noted.

At the same time Muthama urged those charged with the dispensation of justice to children to make deliberate efforts to eradicate delays in the process. She particularly called on the police to fast track cases involving children so that justice is dispensed with promptly and the children allowed to go on with building their lives.

She told those attending the celebrations whose theme was “Access to a child-friendly justice system in Africa” that delays in dispensation of justice to children amounted to denial of their rights.

“Cases involving children should take at most six months to resolve but here in Machakos some take up to two years or more,” she lamented.

Noting that delay of children’s cases amounted to a denial of their rights, she added, “Children attend court either as offenders, victims or witnesses, and every time a case drags, the children are being denied opportunity to either attend school or other matters that affect their future lives,” she noted.

The children’s officer similarly appealed to members of the society who are witnesses in cases involving children not to shy away from attending court, but come out and participate fully so that the cases are solved promptly.

And reacting to the shocking news, Machakos Women Representative Joyce Kasimbi condemned the wave of pregnancy among children and said local grassroots leaders should explain how it happened.

She said parliament would pass a law that will ensure that anybody who impregnates a child will be held responsible.

Similar sentiments were expressed by two DCI officers who warned of dire consequences.

Speaking when they joined children of at  Mwisoo Children’s home in Kyawango, Maau-eli in Mwala, to celebrate the Day, Machakos Sub County DCI boss Rhoda Kanyi and her Mwala counterpart Catherine Kinoti said the law will be brought to bear on those found molesting minors.

“Men who sleep with minors must be warned that the law will definitely catch up with you,” they warned.

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China: Millions of children across the world aren’t going to school. It’s not just their education that could suffer

Asia/ China/ 10.03.2020/ Source:


For 18-year-old Huang Yiyang, school starts when she opens up her laptop.

Over the past two weeks, there have been no school bells, bustling corridors, busy canteens or uniforms. Instead of physically traveling to her public school in Shanghai, Huang sits at her laptop from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. often in her pajamas, watching livestreamed class after livestreamed class.
For physical education class, her teacher performs exercises for students to follow. For English, she sits silently through lectures to virtual classrooms of 20 to 30 students.
She puts stickers or tissues over her webcam, so her classmates can’t see her if a teacher calls on her to answer a question. «We’re at home, so we don’t look so good,» she says.
Huang barely leaves the house, and she hasn’t seen her friends for a month. But while she is isolated, she’s also part of what may be the world’s largest remote learning experiment.
An English teacher gives online tuition to students at Lushan International Experimental Primary School in Changsha, central China's Hunan Province, Feb. 10, 2020.

China is battling a deadly coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 2,700 in the country alone. In a bid to stop the spread of the disease, schools across the country are closed, leaving about 180 million school-aged children in China stuck at home.
And mainland China is just the start. Millions of students in Hong Kong, Macao, Vietnam, Mongolia, Japan, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and Italy have been affected by school closures. For some, that means missing class altogether, while others are trialing online learning. Authorities in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom have indicated that, if the outbreak gets worse, they could shut schools, too.
But while online learning is allowing children to keep up their education in the time of the coronavirus, it’s also come with a raft of other problems. For some students, the issues are minor — shaky internet connections or trouble staying motivated. For others, the remote learning experiment could come at a cost of their mental health — or even their academic future.

What it’s like doing school from home

The components are the same: a laptop, an internet connection, and a bit of focus. But thetype of online study differs from school to school, and country to country.
For Huang, learning at home means spending hours in front of a computer with little social interaction. There’s no discussion in class, and she often can’t hear her teacher because of the poor internet connection. She feels her classmates — and their teachers — are struggling to stay motivated.
«We cannot give (the teachers) a response even though they want it. So they feel bad and we feel awkward as well,» she said.
Teacher Zhang Weibao shoots a video course at a middle school in Urumqi, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on February 3, 2020.

Even after class, her work isn’t over. She usually stays up until about 10 p.m. each night, completing homework which she submits online. Although she doesn’t see her friends face-to-face, Huang says she actually feels closer to them — they talk more than they would usually on Chinese online messenger apps such as WeChat and QQ because they’re all hungry for contact.
«Because we can’t meet anyone our age in reality, so we have to go online.»
Across China, primary and middle school students are required to provide online learning, according to state media agency Xinhua. China has started broadcasting primary school classes on public television, and launched a cloud learning platform based on its national curriculum that 50 million students can use simultaneously.
In Hong Kong, where schools have been closed for a month, some teachers are doing things differently.
At the International Montessori School, students work together in small groups on Google Hangouts so they can all see and talk to each other.
The school started off just posting videos and activities for students on their website, but quickly realized that it was crucial for children to see each other and speak with their teachers. Now they study together in small online groups.
«They were all getting cabin fever — they were all locked inside in apartments,» said principal Adam Broomfield. «I’ve never experienced a school closure like this.»
The different learning style has actually led to innovation, he said — a student made a video explaining how they solved a math problem, and a teacher made a video from a beach to help with a geology lesson.

Schooling in Italy

Students in Hong Kong and mainland China have been isolated for weeks already, but in Italy, where the number of people infected with coronavirus soared past 800 this week, remote learning has just started.
What to know about the coronavirus

The novel coronavirus is spreading globally and has killed at least 2,800 people, the vast majority in mainland China. There have been more than 83,000 global cases, with infections on every continent, except Antarctica.

Here’s what’s happening:

Schools closed this week in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, which include the cities of Milan and Venice, and together have a combined population of about 15 million.
In Milan, Gini Dupasquier’s two daughters have been learning through a combination of live PowerPoint presentations, group work with other students over Google Hangout, and a live chat with teachers.
«Emotionally, they’re fine,» Dupasquier said. «They’re having fun with this new method. So far I see no problem at all.»
A bigger problem for her — like other working parents — is having to balance being at home with her child with the demands of her job as a consultant. «I need to adapt my working hours,» she said. «The balance is a bit tough.»
In Casalpusterlengo, a northern Italian town in the so-called «red zone» where tens of thousands of residents have effectively been cut off from the rest of the country, Monica Moretti’s 15-year-old daughter doesn’t have access to livestreaming — instead, she’s doing homework using an electronic notebook. Unlike many children in mainland China, every afternoon she goes for a walk.

Future-defining exams

Students in senior grades are potentially facing bigger problems than falling behind on their schoolwork.
Jonathan Ye, an 18-year-old high school student in his final year at international school Shanghai Pinghe, has conditional entry to university in the United Kingdom. He still needs to do well on his final International Baccalaureate exam in May if he wants to start university overseas — something he’s been working toward for years.
«If I do not do well on that exam, then I’m screwed,» he said. «I think I’ll be OK because I like to self-study, but I’m not sure. I still get nervous because we are not going to school right now, so we might be missing information from the teacher.»
But Ye’s situation is better than most.
High school students take part in a rally for relieving stress two days ahead of the upcoming annual gaokao or college entrance examinations in China, in Haikou in China's southern Hainan province.

In June, the vast majority of final year students in mainland China are due to sit the gaokao — the notoriously intense and ultra competitive university entrance exams. Even at the best of times, those exams can change lives — they can be the difference between a prestigious university and no university at all.
Students become consumed by studying for the test, and teachers sometimes tell them to focus on nothing else. While it’s possible to resit the gaokao, that would require studying your whole final year again.
The Ministry of Education said it will assess and decide whether to delay the gaokao. Beijing authorities have already said there will be an online mock exam ahead of the gaokao — although that isn’t the actual gaokao exam.
Although Hong Kong schools are shut until April 20, the city will still hold its university entrance exam on March 27 as planned. The only difference: students will be required to wear face masks and desks will be moved further apart than normal.
A teacher gives a lecture with her smart phone during an online class at a middle school in Donghai in China's eastern Jiangsu province on February 17, 2020.

That’s also an issue for students sitting other exams. Hong Kong-based Ruth Benny found home study just wasn’t working for her 14-year-old daughter, who is sitting GCSEs this year. «There was no learning happening. It was just like a big long holiday,» she said. Her daughter has now transferred to boarding school in the United Kingdom.
Some parents have raised concerns over paying expensive international school fees when their child isn’t doing regular schooling.
Benny, who runs education consultancy Top Schools, said that if schools are doing the best they can, there’s no need for reimbursement.Her 12-year-old son normally boards during the week at Harrow International School in Hong Kong, but they’ve reimbursed the cost of boarding while her child is out of school. «It’s really as good as it can be, but I know that it’s not like that for all schools.»
Broomfield, the principal of International Montessori School, said that if schoolsreimbursed parents, the schools might not survive.
«We still have to run, we still have to pay our staff. We still want a school here when all this is over,» he said. «I just don’t see how those refunds can be provided.»
And he pointed out that it had been a difficult time for teachers too, with much longer hours than usual, and a steep learning curve, particularly for the «tech dinosaurs» on their staff.
In a way, the situation was like trying to plumb a bathroom with the water still running, he said. «We had very little preparation for this,» he said. «If you’re going to renovate your bathroom, you turn your water off first. This was a whole replumbing of education, but we had to do it on the run.»

Psychological effects

There’s also a risk that studying from home could impact children psychologically.
Hong Kong-based mental health expert Odile Thiang said the loss of routine and the loss of social activity could have a big impact on children, who were also stuck inside with their parents during an already stressful time. «There’s also that general fear of contamination that people are feeling, so everything is adding up.»
«(The psychological lessons) is yet to be learned, to really see what is going to come out of this major public health experiment that we’re doing here,» she said, adding that children tend to be very resilient.
Chris Dede, a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, said there were plenty of studies showing the negative psychological effects on students who had been isolated from their peers after suffering serious illnesses.
Children studying from home could experience the same effects. But he pointed out that, in this situation, whole schools were studying remotely — not just one single student who might feel lonely and left out.
«The shared problem becomes a way of having shared support,» he said.

Is studying remotely a good thing?

It’s not the first time that schools have had to shut down or experiment with remote learning. In countries with particularly harsh winters, children sometimes find their school canceled for «snow days.» In Hong Kong, some schools canceled classes last year over the ongoing pro-democracy protests.
And it’s not like education experts have never thought of studying without a face-to-face teacher before. Children in remote parts of Australia have long taken lessons via education programs over the radio. And, in China artificial intelligence has been touted as a way to ensure students in rural communities get a better education.
A teacher gives a lecture in front of a camera during an online class at a middle school in Donghai in China's eastern Jiangsu province on February 17, 2020.

According to Dede, a mix of online and face-to-face teaching is better than learning entirely offline, or entirely online. But the crucial thing isn’t the medium, he said — it is the quality and the method of teaching.
«The worst thing for children would be just to be isolated, at home, without emotional support from their friends, without the opportunity to have a skilled educator to help them learn,» he said.
He sees this as a chance for educators to experiment with new teaching approaches, and then take what works back into the physical classroom.
Regardless of the teaching style, students were still lucky in a sense that this was happening now.
«We have social media, and the internet, and we have smart phones. So the degree of isolation and the degree of lost opportunity to learn would have been much greater if this happened two decades ago,» he said.
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Education innovations in Asia: 5 takeaways from Taiwan’s NXTEducator Summit

Asia/ Taiwan/ 21.o1.2020/ Source:

here’s no question that children in school today will encounter an entirely different workplace than the one we’re in now. The impact of new technologies and a changing climate will influence the kinds of jobs available and the skills needed to be successful in them. While it’s impossible to know what exactly the future will hold, education scholars are emphasizing the need for young people to acquire skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving. These so-called “21st century” skills will help young people thrive in an uncertain future. Around the world, innovators are finding new and creative ways to deliver such skills.

I recently took part in the NXTEducator Summit in Taipei on 21st century skills in Asia, which shed light on the many innovations in the Chinese-speaking world. Co-hosted by the Finnish nonprofit HundrED and the Sayling Wen Cultural and Educational Foundation in Taiwan, the summit brought together more than 100 teachers, administrators, and innovators across China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia to learn from seven featured innovators and exchange ideas for delivering a quality, future-ready education for all of today’s young people.

At the Center for Universal Education (CUE) at Brookings, we research education innovations, and the summit provided a window into current trends in the region as well as similarities we see across the globe that can help inform our future work. Below are five takeaways from the summit:

1. Leapfrogging is happening in the here and now. The summit’s featured innovators confirm that rapid, nonlinear progress in education, or what CUE calls “leapfrogging,” is alive and well in communities across the Chinese-speaking world. CUE’s leapfrog pathway highlights how innovation can move education from the status quo to a place where all young people develop the breadth of skills needed to be successful in the future. For example, the Co-Publishing Project in Taiwan works with economically disadvantaged students and students from immigrant families, putting them at the center of learning through hands-on photography projects. Student-centered learning is a core element of leapfrogging, as highlighted in CUE’s leapfrog pathway. The project fosters students’ curiosity about their own cultures and the world around them and allows for their self-expression through the art of photography. Another featured innovation, Teach for Taiwan, recruits university graduates and professionals to teach in economically disadvantaged primary schools through its two-year fellowship program, helping to address educational inequity among rural and urban communities. The innovation represents an example of widening the pool of teachers, another aspect of the leapfrog pathway.

2. Advanced technology is being harnessed for learning. While many well-resourced classrooms have tablets and computers, the use of drones in school is less common. The Drone-based Interdisciplinary Learning and Entrepreneurship Education program in Hong Kong has seized on the greater commercial availability of drones to further student learning. Secondary school students first learn about drones in the classroom, applying math, science, and coding skills to program drones and track their trajectories. They also meet entrepreneurs and professionals who use drones in their day to day careers. Students apply their learnings to the real-life measurement of water quality, first by engineering drones to collect water samples through a testing process in the classroom and then collecting samples from local bodies of water. Back in the classroom, students analyze the collected samples to identify levels of water pollution and pollution sources. The program enables students to solve a local problem through technology, while robustly building their 21st century skills.

3. Familiar models are being used in new ways. Innovation isn’t always the brand new, never-before-seen thing. Indeed, in “Leapfrogging Inequality,” Brookings scholar Rebecca Winthrop defines innovations in education as a break from current practice, whether new to the world or new to a context. Two featured innovations, BEEP Lab and FunMeiker, represent examples of an old idea being adopted to serve a new purpose. Both innovations use concepts from the field of architecture to teach K-12 students. The programs work with local architects as mentors who guide students through the processes of inquiry-thinking, design-thinking, and problem-solving. While architecture’s use in K-12 education is not brand new, these innovations are providing thoughtful, new ways to deliver context-specific concepts and ideas to children in Singapore and Taiwan, such as a focus on the natural and cultural environments in addition to the built environment.

4. Innovation is promoting empathy and cross-cultural exchange. Featured innovation MTA World (Mondragon Team Academy) is a university in which students spend each year in a different country. Students can choose to study in Asia in China and Korea, as well as in Spain, Mexico, and the United States. Instead of classrooms, learning takes place through innovation labs where students work in teams of entrepreneurs. MTA recognizes that when young people have the opportunity to interact with others from different backgrounds, they develop new perspectives and ways of working that will serve them throughout their lives. Another innovation that promotes cross-cultural learning at the tertiary level is City Wanderer, in which teams of university students take on challenges in their city that benefit underserved groups—for example by cooking meals for the homeless or spending time with elderly neighbors. By interacting with others from different backgrounds, students develop empathy and a commitment to improve their world.

5. There is tremendous opportunity for governments to help innovation scale. Six of the seven featured innovations are led by nongovernmental organizations (the seventh is a social enterprise). Many collaborate with formal education systems by partnering with schools to lead after-school and weekend programs. This trend mirrors CUE’s research. In its global catalog of nearly 3,000 education innovations, CUE found that two-thirds of innovations originated from the nonprofit sector, whereas only 12 percent of innovations originated from governments. While innovation tends to occur outside of formal systems for a number of reasons, there is great value in more fully bringing innovation into the mainstream, where it can reach millions more students. CUE has called for a mindset shift among leaders as a starting point to encourage greater uptake of education innovation by local and national governments.

While we can’t say for certain what the world of work will look like 10 or 15 years from now, the conversations at the NXTEducator Summit show us that the education innovations community is putting into practice a range of creative ideas inside and outside of the classroom.

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Kenya: 73 students taken to Bahati hospital following night fire

Africa/Kenya/20-01-2020/Author: Christine Muchira/Source:

73 students were taken to Bahati Sub-County Hospital Saturday night following a fire incident at Bahati PCEA Girls School.

All have been discharged apart from three who were admitted while two were referred to Nakuru Provincial General Hospital.

The source of fire is unknown.

More to follow…..

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