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Covid-19 and Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Impact and the way forward

By Peter Anti Partey

Institute for Education Studies (IFEST, Accra – Ghana)

According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS), Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is considered to have low learning proficiency. SSA at the same time has the highest rates of education exclusion (UIS, 2019), that is, more than 20 percent of children between ages of about 6 and 11 are out of school, with about 33% of those between 12 and 14 also not in school. Again, UIS data put the percent of the youth who are not in school in this region at 60%. In terms of gender, the exclusion rate for girls (36%) is 4% more than boys (32%). In terms of literacy rate, the region has seen a marginal increase of .53% to the current level of 65.58 (UIS, 2018) which is still low when compared to the world average of 86.3%. these few statistics paint a picture of the urgency to improve the educational system in this region.


However, the advent of Covid-19 seems to have worsened the state of global education but the hardest hit will be regions with less robust educational systems such as Sub-Saharan Africa. Robust educational systems are identified by their levels of literacy and numeracy rates which can be used to predict the future human capital of the country. According to the World Bank, the effect of Covid-19 on education could be felt for decades to come. They reiterate the fact that the impact transcends learning loss which is a short-term issue to a more long-term issue of diminishing economic opportunities.


This challenge of learning poverty brought about as a result of the continued closure of schools should engage governments and education ministries in the region. Unlike the developed world where mitigation measures such as e-learning helped to ensure continuity of education of students, the adoption of the same rather seems to have widened the inequality gap in the region. This is partly attributed to the extent of the digital divide in the region and also the level of disparities between the urban and the rural child. The level of investment of African governments into education which according to the African Economic Outlook (2020) stands at 5% of GDP which is also the second-highest of any region should yield the relevant returns. Unfortunately, that has not been the case and with Covid-19 coming into the picture, we are not going to have any tangible benefits any time soon if drastic and innovative policies are not pursued within the shortest possible time.

To start with, governments and the managers of education in the region should embark on educational system transformation. There should be a conscious effort to improve learning outcomes and make learning relevant to the student. This implies taking a second look at the entire school curriculum. It is time for governments in the region to use the school system to prepare the students to be able to contribute to the economic development of the country and also be competitive globally, this requires a complete overhaul of the school curriculum to reflect the needs and aspirations of the society in the 21st Century and beyond. Ghana has taken the lead in this direction.


Again, educational policies in this region are more exclusive than inclusive. An inclusive education policy allows all children to develop and succeed especially those with special needs. One of the strategic measures needed to be taken by governments in the region is inclusive education. Students should not be denied basic educational resources due to their location, socio-economic status, family background, or physical or psychological deficiencies.


Furthermore, to be able to bridge the learning gap and ensure that teachers are up to speed with the level of learning loss of their students, assessment techniques that are more informative and ipsative should be adopted by educational authorities and implemented in schools. In my professional opinion, countries in the region should have a nationwide assessment during the early weeks of reopening for the basic and secondary level to inform various education decisions (instructional, pedagogical, etc.) at all levels from the teacher to the ministry in charge of education.


The efficient and effective use of instructional time is a big issue in the region. Maximisation of contact time when schools are officially opened should be given the needed attention. Research has shown that there is always a discrepancy between actual and intended instructional times due to teacher absenteeism, breaks, lack of textbooks which results in teachers writing comprehensive notes on boards for students, etc. According to the Human Capital Index (2018), children in Ghana spend 2.7 years more in school than a child born in Sierra Leone if they all begin school at age 4. However, 5.9 years of the child in Ghana’s education life can be described as being “a waste”, implying that, the child learns for only 5.7 years out of the total 11.6 years spent in school. In the case of a child in Sierra Leone, 4.4 years can be termed as “wasted years” in the child’s education while learning occurs only 4.5 years. This is unacceptable and if governments in SSA would be able to make strides in their education after Covid-19, there is a need to eliminate the ineffective usage of instructional time.


Another important measure that needs attention is the capacity building of teachers. Covid-19 has exposed the inadequacies in our teacher preparation and continuing professional development programmes. Most teachers in the region are not technologically savvy making it difficult for the smooth implementation of e-learning and EdTech programmes and policies. The lack of or inadequacy of knowledge in using modern technology to deliver education should be tackled head-on from pre-service and in-service teachers’ levels. Teacher preparation at our tertiary level should encompass the use of technology in delivering education. Again, workshops, training programmes, and special courses should be organised for in-service teachers to upgrade their knowledge on e-learning systems and EdTech. Educational digital devices should be made available to all teachers during these training sessions.


In conclusion, it is worth noting that, Covid-19 has been a blessing in disguise and a wake-up call for the education system in Sub-Saharan Africa. It has exposed the robustness of our education to stand the test of time and revealed the inadequacies in our educational system when compared to other regions. It is solely our responsibility to face the challenges that the advent of Covid-19 presents and reset our educational system to respond to the needs and aspirations of our children and more importantly make it relevant and competitive in the global education sphere.


***The writer is into educational research and policy analysis. He is an education economist by profession and currently the Acting Executive Director of the Institute of Education Studies (IFEST), an education think tank in Ghana.


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5 Things Every Teacher Should Know About Autism

The world’s opinion on autism is divided. Some believe it is on the rise, while others claim that the percentage of people on the spectrum remained the same, but we got a better understanding of the spectrum. Every 43rd child is autistic, and this fact which was the reason why governments make inclusive education programs. […]
The world’s opinion on autism is divided. Some believe it is on the rise, while others claim that the percentage of people on the spectrum remained the same, but we got a better understanding of the spectrum. Every 43rd child is autistic, and this fact which was the reason why governments make inclusive education programs. As a result, a number of autistic children now attend regular classes with their peers. This, however, made it necessary for teachers to know more about autistic children and find ways to help them adapt and adjust. Here are some common misconceptions about autism and a few things teachers should know.

What makes autistic children different?

Autistic children have a different way of perceiving reality, and their senses often work in a different way than you might expect. This means that children on the autistic spectrum might not remove their sweater if it’s too hot in the classroom or lower their voice even though they speak too loud or even shout during class. Every child with autism is different and unique and teachers should be familiar with the child’s character and habits before they introduce them to the rest of the class. Some children are nonverbal while others are loud, many are highly intelligent and have an extraordinary gift for specific subjects or topics. Labelling them as completely different is definitely not an option because, with appropriate care, these children could really use their potential and make progress.

Use teaching methods which support their strengts

Image source: Unsplash

Just like children who aren’t on the spectrum, autistic children have different strengths and weakness, yet theirs are a bit more extreme. They might be capable of extraordinary things, having an outstanding talent for math, arts, or music, but at the same time, they might be incapable of spelling their name correctly. This is why you should apply teaching techniques which support their talents rather than focus on improving their bad pronunciation. If you need help understanding your autistic students, you can always reach out to Behaviour Zen and ask their professional help and opinion on the matter. You shouldn’t try to prevent their repetitive patterns, or try to change their behaviour, as such approaches will only cause them to become anxious, angry, or even provoke acts of violence.

How to accept stimming

Repetitive patterns that some autistic children are prone to are called stimming (short for self-stimulation) and these are natural for some autistic children. The repetitive motions, actions, and sounds they make help them stay calm and they find it comforting. These patterns vary:

they could be flapping their heads, spinning, shifting their weight, running back and forth, pacing around, or rocking while sitting in the same spot. Although this kind of behaviour might be distracting for you and other students, you have to find a way to accept it and to explain to the other students that it helps the child feel better. What is good about it is that these repetitive patterns seem to occur always at a similar time so you could organise your class around them. This way, autistic children are going to be more included.

How to remain calm

Image source: Pexels

When autistic children are throwing a tantrum, it is important to stay calm and not to change your behaviour. Your body language should remain casual and natural and you shouldn’t be raising your voice. Sometimes you will have to talk to the child in private, away from the class, but it will help them understand better what you want and need from them. When talking to autistic children, use simple language and keep your sentences brief, as it will be easier for them to process and understand what you want from them.

Give them time

Speaking of simple language and brief sentences, it’s often helpful to be very patient and not take too many steps with autistic children. Even though it’s not the same for everyone, most autistic children will appreciate if you take things slowly and not expect them to follow your train of thought immediately. When giving instructions, give them the simplest two-step instructions you can muster, even if it means working with them longer than with the other children in the class. When you finish speaking to hem, give them a couple of seconds to process your instructions before they answer or ask you a question. When repeating things, don’t paraphrase, as it will take them longer to process this new statement.

The class atmosphere can be unpredictable when you’re working with autistic children, and the most important thing is to stay calm. Although it’s easier said than done, it is possible to keep control in these situations; short breaks are your best friends and don’t hesitate to use them often. When you see that things are getting out of hand, back down, have a short break, and try again. Patience is your best friend, and autistic children will love learning from you.

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‘I Work 3 Jobs And Donate Blood Plasma to Pay the Bills.’ This Is What It’s Like to Be a Teacher in America

United States / September 16, 2018 / Author: Katie Reilly / Source: Time

Hope Brown can make $60 donating plasma from her blood cells twice in one week, and a little more if she sells some of her clothes at a consignment store. It’s usually just enough to cover an electric bill or a car payment. This financial juggling is now a part of her everyday life—something she never expected almost two decades ago when she earned a master’s degree in secondary education and became a high school history teacher. Brown often works from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. at her school in Versailles, Ky., then goes to a second job manning the metal detectors and wrangling rowdy guests at Lexington’s Rupp Arena to supplement her $55,000 annual salary. With her husband, she also runs a historical tour company for extra money.

“I truly love teaching,” says the 52-year-old. “But we are not paid for the work that we do.”

That has become the rallying cry of many of America’s public-school teachers, who have staged walkouts and marches on six state capitols this year. From Arizona to Oklahoma, in states blue, red and purple, teachers have risen up to demand increases in salaries, benefits and funding for public education. Their outrage has struck a chord, reviving a national debate over the role and value of teachers and the future of public education.

Hope Brown works at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY on Aug. 31.
Hope Brown works at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY on Aug. 31.
Maddie McGarvey for TIME/Economic Hardship Reporting Project

For many teachers, this year’s uprising is decades in the making. The country’s roughly 3.2 million full-time public-school teachers (kindergarten through high school) are experiencing some of the worst wage stagnation of any profession, earning less on average, in inflation-­adjusted dollars, than they did in 1990, according to Department of Education (DOE) data.

Meanwhile, the pay gap between teachers and other comparably educated professionals is now the largest on record. In 1994, public-school teachers in the U.S. earned 1.8% less per week than comparable workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a left-leaning think tank. By last year, they made 18.7% less. The situation is particularly grim in states such as Oklahoma, where teachers’ inflation-adjusted salaries actually decreased by about $8,000 in the last decade, to an average of $45,245 in 2016, according to DOE data. In Arizona, teachers’ average inflation-adjusted annual wages are down $5,000.

The decline in education funding is not limited to salaries. Twenty-nine states were still spending less per student in 2015, adjusted for inflation, than they did before the Great Recession, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, leaving many public schools dilapidated, overcrowded and reliant on outdated textbooks and threadbare supplies.

To many teachers, these trends are a result of a decades-long and bipartisan war on public education, born of frustration with teachers’ unions, a desire to standardize curricula and a professed commitment to fiscal austerity. This has led to a widespread expansion of charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated, and actions such as a move in the Wisconsin legislature in 2011 to strip teachers’ pensions and roll back collective bargaining rights. This year, Colorado lawmakers voted to raise teachers’ retirement age and cut benefits.

Stacks of books are organized in Binh Thai's classroom at the University Neighborhood Middle School in New York City.
Stacks of books are organized in Binh Thai’s classroom at the University Neighborhood Middle School in New York City.
George Etheredge for TIME

As states tightened the reins on teacher benefits, many also enacted new benchmarks for student achievement, with corresponding standardized tests, curricula changes and evaluations of teacher performance. The loss of control over their classrooms combined with the direct hit to their pocketbooks was too much for many teachers to bear.

‘I love teaching. But we are not paid for the work that we do.’
– Hope Brown, Kentucky

The wave began in West Virginia, where in February and March some 20,000 teachers walked out across the state. Educators there—who made an average of $45,701 in 2016, according to the DOE­—refused to enter their classrooms until the state met their demands to fully fund insurance benefits and increase salaries. Instead, they marched on the capitol, passed out bag lunches for low-income students who normally rely on free school meals and watched as public support flooded their way. After nine school days, lawmakers caved and approved a 5% wage increase. Weeks later, the specter of a similar strike led Oklahoma lawmakers to pass the state’s first major tax increase in nearly 30 years to fund raises for teachers who still walked out for more funding. Teachers in Kentucky and Arizona—both GOP-leaning states—followed their lead.

But teachers faced opposition at times from state and federal leaders. In April, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos criticized striking teachers, suggesting they were failing to serve their students and urging them to “keep adult disagreements” out of the classroom.

Humanities teacher Binh Thai in his classroom at University Neighborhood Middle School in New York City on Aug. 16.
Humanities teacher Binh Thai in his classroom at University Neighborhood Middle School in New York City on Aug. 16.
George Etheredge for TIME

And when school was out for the summer, the teachers’ momentum was blunted. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that public­-sector unions can’t mandate fees from nonmembers—a decision that experts estimate could cost influential teachers’ unions money and clout. And in August, the Arizona supreme court blocked a ballot initiative that would have added $690 million annually to state education funding.

Teachers are out to regain the upper hand. Some have already gone on strike in Washington State, and others are threatening to do so in Los Angeles and Virginia. And they promise to turn out in force for November’s midterm elections, where hundreds of teachers are running for office on platforms that promise more support for public schools. They have also sought to remind the public that they are on the front lines of America’s frayed social safety net, dealing with children affected by the opioid crisis, living in poverty and fearful of the next school shooting.

Recent polling suggests teachers have the public on their side. Nearly 60% of people in a Ipsos/USA Today survey released Sept. 12 think teachers are underpaid, while a majority of both Republicans and Democrats believe they have the right to strike.

“We have to organize even harder and even broader,” says Los Angeles teacher Rosa Jimenez. “People are fired up.”

Social studies teacher Rosa Jimenez atthe UCLA Community School in Los Angeles on Aug. 21.
Social studies teacher Rosa Jimenez atthe UCLA Community School in Los Angeles on Aug. 21.
Alex Welsh for TIME

When Elaine Hutchison’s mother started teaching in Oklahoma in 1970, she made about $7,000 a year. In 2018 dollars, that’s roughly $45,000—nearly the same salary Hutchison, Oklahoma’s 2013 Teacher of the Year, now makes after a quarter-century on the job. Hutchison, 48, is a fourth-generation educator whose daughter also plans to become a teacher. She says she never got into teaching for the money, but, “I do want to be paid what I’m worth.”

Since the first U.S. public-school system was established in Massachusetts in 1647, many localities have struggled to pay teachers and searched for people willing to do the job for less. In the mid-1800s, California superintendent of public instruction John Swett lamented that the work of teachers was not “as well-paid as the brain labor of the lawyer, the physician, the clergyman, the editor.”

“They ought not to be expected to break mental bread to the children of others and feed their own with stones,” Swett wrote in 1865, foreshadowing arguments still made by teachers today.

‘We have to organize even harder and even broader.’
– Rosa Jimenez, California

Teaching has long been dominated by women, and experts say the roots of its relatively low pay lie in sexism. “The ‘hidden subsidy of public education’ is the fact that teachers for many years were necessarily working at suppressed wage levels because they really had no options other than teaching,” says Susan Moore Johnson, a professor of education at Harvard and an expert in teacher policy.

In 1960, teaching was more lucrative than other comparable careers for women, according to the EPI, but that was because of limited opportunity, not high pay. As women were admitted to other professions in wider numbers, choosing teaching carried a cost. For example registered nurses—another career historically dominated by women—make far more than teachers today, earning an average annual wage of $73,550 in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nursing shortages in some parts of the U.S. have led to signing bonuses, free housing, tuition reimbursement and other perks, while teacher shortages have contributed to some states increasing class sizes, shortening school weeks and enacting emergency certification for people who aren’t trained as educators.

Scenes from the Carroll Leadership in Technology Magnet Middle School in Raleigh, NC.
Scenes from the Carroll Leadership in Technology Magnet Middle School in Raleigh, NC.
Jared Soares for TIME/Economic Hardship Reporting Project

Nationwide, the estimated average public-school teacher’s salary is now $58,950, according to the National Center for Education Statistics—a respectable income in many locales, but actual wages vary widely by state, and often do not track with costs of living. When compared to professions with similar education levels, teacher pay tends to pale. In 2016, for instance, the average teacher’s starting salary was $38,617—20% lower than that of other professions requiring a college degree.

The public response to the teachers’ protests shows signs of a shift in the perception of the profession. Even in conservative states, many voters backed tax increases to support public education, and called on lawmakers to stop cutting school budgets. State funding for public schools fell off a cliff 10 years ago, when recession-­wracked states slashed education budgets and cut taxes. The uprising in West Virginia seemed to mark a turning point in public support for refilling the coffers.

Read more about what it’s like to survive on a teacher’s salary

But like most stories, the fight over teacher pay has many shades of gray. Generous retirement and health-benefits packages negotiated by teachers’ unions in flusher times are a drain on many states. Those who believe most teachers are fairly paid point to those benefits, along with their summer break, to make their case.

Teachers, however, say those apparent perks often disappear upon inspection. Many regularly work over the summer, planning curricula, taking continuing education and professional development courses, and running summer programs at their schools, making it a year-round job. Indeed, teachers—about 40% of whom are not covered by Social Security because of states’ reliance on pension plans—must stay in the same state to collect their pensions. Studies have shown that the majority of new teachers don’t stay in the same district long enough to qualify for pensions. Even for those who do stand to gain, it can be hard to find reassurance in distant retirement benefits when salaries haven’t kept pace with the cost of living.

NaShonda Cooke at the Carroll Leadership in Technology Magnet Middle School, where she teaches in Raleigh, North Carolina.
NaShonda Cooke at the Carroll Leadership in Technology Magnet Middle School, where she teaches in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Jared Soares for TIME/Economic Hardship Reporting Project

“Utility companies do not care that you had a great day with one of your students. They don’t care that you’re coaching the soccer team. They want you to pay for the services that they provide you,” says NaShonda Cooke, a teacher and single mother of two in Raleigh, N.C. “I can’t tell you how many letters I got this summer that said final notice.” Cooke, who makes about $69,000, often skips doctor’s appointments to save the co-pay and worries about paying for her eldest daughter’s college education. “It’s not about wanting a pay raise or extra income,” she says. “It’s just about wanting a livable wage.”

Stagnant wages are one reason teachers believe school districts across the country are facing hiring crises. This year in Oklahoma, a record number of teachers were given emergency teaching certifications, despite no traditional training. In Arizona, school districts began recruiting overseas to fill their shortfall. Last year, U.S. public schools hired 2,800 foreign teachers on special visas, up from 1,500 in 2012, according to federal data.

‘I can’t tell you how many letters I got … that said “final notice.”’
-NaShonda Cooke, North Carolina

The pipeline, meanwhile, is drying up. Between 2008 and 2016, the number of new educators completing preparatory programs fell by 23%, according to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. And once ­teachers make it to the classroom, attrition is high: at least 17% leave the profession within the first five years, a 2015 study found.

Hutchison says her daughter has plans to continue the family teaching tradition, but it’s becoming a harder path for a middle-­class kid. Hutchison’s sibling—an attorney, engineer and physical therapist—all earned graduate degrees, but now she makes half of what they do. “My younger brother who’s an engineer—his bonus is more than my salary,” she says.

NaShonda Cooke, center, at home in the morning with her daughters in Raleigh, NC.
NaShonda Cooke, center, at home in the morning with her daughters in Raleigh, NC.
Jared Soares for TIME/Economic Hardship Reporting Project

As the new school year gets under way, many are picking up where the spring protests left off. In L.A., teachers voted in August to authorize a strike if negotiations continue to stall over issues including teacher pay and class sizes. In Washington, teachers in several districts are already on strike, calling for pay raises to come out of newly allocated education funding. In Virginia, teachers are floating the possibility of a statewide walkout.

Brown, the Kentucky teacher, says the fight needs to happen now or never. If budget cuts and school privatization efforts continue, she warns, teaching will cease to be a viable career for educated, engaged and ambitious people. She talks about what she does not as a job but as a calling. “I’m not necessarily a religious person, but I do believe I was put here to be a teacher,” she says. “I just want to be able to financially do that.”

But to Brown, it’s not only about what she and her fellow teachers are worth, because they’re not in the classroom alone. If the public is on their side, they say, it’s ultimately because of the kids.

—With reporting by Haley Sweetland Edwards/New York



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The Slow and Fast Assault on Public Education


Since Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, there have been few occasions to feel hopeful about politics. But now we are witnessing a proliferation of causes for hope, as brave students from Parkland, Florida, and equally courageous teachers throughout the United States lead movements of mass demonstrations, walkouts, and strikes.

The United States is in the midst of a crisis of values, ethics, and politics. It has been decades in the making, produced largely by a neoliberal system that has subordinated all aspects of social life to the dictates of the market while stripping assets from public goods and producing untenable levels of inequality. What we are now living through is the emergence of a new political formation in which neoliberalism has put on the mantle of fascism.

The assault on public education, the slow violence of teacher disenfranchisement, and the fast violence of guns can only be understood as part of a larger war on liberal democracy.

Amidst this cataclysm, public schools have been identified as a major threat to the conservative ruling elite because public education has long been integral to U.S. democracy’s dependence on an informed, engaged citizenry. Democracy is predicated on faith in the capacity of all humans for intelligent judgment, deliberation, and action, but this innate capacity must be nurtured. The recognition of this need explains why the United States has, since its earliest days, emphasized the value of public education at least as an ideal. An education that teaches one to think critically and mediate charged appeals to one’s emotions is key to making power accountable and embracing a mature sense of the social contract.

Now, as our public schools are stretched to their breaking, their students and teachers are leading the call for a moral awakening. Both argue that the crisis of public schooling and the war on youth are related, and that the assaults on public schooling can only be understood as part of a larger war on liberal democracy.

No one movement or group can defeat the powerful and connected forces of neoliberal fascism, but energized young people and teachers are helping to open a space in which change looks more possible than at any time in the recent past. The Parkland students have embraced a grassroots approach and teachers are following their lead. Both are primed for action and are ready to challenge those eager to dismantle the public education system. They recognize that education is a winning issue because most Americans still view it as a path through which their children can gain access to decent jobs and a good life. The usual neoliberal bromides advocating privatization, charter schools, vouchers, and teaching for the test have lost all legitimacy at a moment when the ruling elite act with blatant disregard for the democratizing ethos that has long been a keystone of our society.

All of the states in which teachers have engaged in wildcat strikes, demonstrations, and protests have been subject to the toxic austerity measures that have come to characterize the neoliberal economy. In these states, teachers have faced low and stagnant wages, crumbling and overfilled classrooms, lengthening work days, and slashed budgets that have left them without classroom essentials such as books and even toilet paper—necessities that, in many cases, teachers have purchased themselves with their paltry salaries. It is significant that teachers have refused to confine their protests to the immediate needs of their profession or the understandable demand for higher wages. Rather, they have couched these demands within a broader critique of the war on public goods, calling repeatedly for more funding for schools in order to provide students with decent conditions for learning.

Likewise, students protesting gun violence have contextualized their demands for gun control by addressing the roots of gun violence in state violence and political and economic disenfranchisement. Refusing to be silenced by politicians bought and sold by the NRA, these students have called for a vision of social justice rooted in the belief that they can not only challenge systemic oppression, but can change the fundamental nature of an oppressive social order. They recognize that they have not only been treated as disposable populations written out of the script of democracy, they also are capable of using the new tools of social media to surmount the deadening political horizons preached by conventional media outlets and established politicians.

The attack on public education is one side of the neoliberal ledger. The other side is the explosion of the punishing state with its accelerated apparatuses of incarceration and militarization.

What is so promising about the student-led movement is that not only is it exposing the politicians and gun lobbies that argue against gun control and reframe the gun debate while endangering the lives of young people, they have also energized millions of youth by encouraging a sense of individual and collective agency. They are asking their peers to mobilize against gun violence, vote in the midterm November elections, and be prepared for a long struggle against the underlying ideologies, structures, and institutions that promote death-dealing violence in the United States. As Charlotte Alter pointed out in TIME:

They envision a youth political movement that will address many of the other issues affecting the youngest Americans. [Parkland student leader David] Hogg says he would like to have a youth demonstration every year on March 24, harnessing the power of teenage anger to demand action on everything from campaign-finance reform to net neutrality to climate change.

This statement makes clear that these young people recognize that the threat they face goes far beyond the gun debate and that what they need to address is a wider culture of cruelty, silence, and indifference. Violence comes in many forms, some hidden, many more spectacularized, cultivated, valued, eroticized, and normalized. Some are fast, and others are slow, and thus harder to perceive. The key is to address the underlying structures and relations of power that give rise to this landscape of both spectacular gun violence and the everyday violence experienced by the poor, people of color, the undocumented, and other “disposable” people. The attack on public education and the rights and working conditions of teachers is one side of the neoliberal ledger. The other side is the explosion of the punishing state with its accelerated apparatuses of containment, militarized police, borders, walls, mass incarceration, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the creation of an armed society. These issues need to be connected as part of a wider refusal to equate rapacious, neoliberal capitalism with democracy.

The Parkland student movement and the teacher walkouts have already advanced the possibilities of mass resistance by connecting the dots between the crises that each group is experiencing. The “slow violence” (to borrow Rob Nixon’s term) of teacher disenfranchisement needs to be understood in relation to the fast violence that has afflicted students, both of which arise from a state that has imported the language of perpetual war into its relationship with its citizens. As Judith Levine points out, every public sphere has been transformed into a virtual war zone, “a zone of permanent vigilance, enforcement, and violence.”

In the face of this, the need is for disruptive social movements that call for nothing less than the restructuring of U.S. society. In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., this means a revolution in values, a shift in public consciousness, and a change in power relations and public policies. The Parkland students and the teachers protesting across the nation are not only challenging the current attacks on public education, they also share an effort in constructing a new narrative about the United States—one that reengages the public’s ethical imagination toward developing an equitable, just, and inclusive democracy. Their protests point to the possibility of a new public imagination that moves beyond the narrow realm of specific interest to a more comprehensive understanding of politics that is rooted in a practice of open defiance to corporate tyranny. This is a politics that refuses “leftist” centrism, the extremism of the right, and a deeply unequal society modeled on the iniquitous precarity and toxic structures of savage capitalism. This new political horizon foreshadows the need to organize new political formations, massive social movements, and a third political party that can make itself present in a variety of institutional, educational, social, and cultural spheres.

The teacher and student protests have made clear that real change can be made through mass collective movements inspired by hope in the service of a radical democracy.

What the teacher and student protests have made clear is that change and coalition-building are possible, and that real change can be made through mass collective movements inspired by hope in the service of a radical democracy. This is a movement that must make education central to its politics and be willing to develop educational spheres which listen to and speak to the concrete problems that educators, students, minorities of color and class, and others face in a world moving into the abyss of tyranny.

The long-term success of the movements begun by the teachers and students will likely hinge on whether they connect with wider struggles for minority rights, economic justice, and social equality. If they open to a vision of shared struggle, they may find their way to a radical democratic recuperation that benefits all people whose needs are being sacrificed on the altar of neoliberal fascism. What we have learned from the student and teacher demonstrations is that politics depends “on the possibility of making the public exist in the first place” and that what we share in common is more important than what separates us. At a time when tyranny is on the rise and the world seems deprived of radical imagination, such courageous acts of mass resistance are a welcome relief and hopeful indicator of an energetic struggle to secure a democratic future.


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‘High degree of motivation’: Augmented, virtual reality transforming classrooms

Por Pallavi Singhal

When their school got 3D printers a few years ago, Brenden Davidson’s year 10 technology class was finally able to rotate and fully explore their designs.

Then in 2016, the technology leader of learning at St Mary’s Cathedral College started bringing augmented and virtual reality into the classroom.

«It’s an easier way to do it, we’d finish the design work and put it in augmented reality so they could view their work,» Mr Davidson said.

Now, he’s going even further with the technology.

«When I first started, I was just using it as a tool to display their work. Now I’m trying to use it as a content creation tool,» Mr Davidson said.

«With virtual reality, you’ve got sensors in your hand and you’re using your whole body to design something and it’s in real scale in front of you. Traditionally you’d have a keyboard and a mouse, which is not an overly natural way to construct something.»

Mr Davidson won the Premier’s Teachers Mutual Bank New and Emerging Technologies Scholarship last year and recently completed a study tour of England, Sweden and America to look at how augmented and virtual reality are being used in education around the world.

«What I learnt on the tour was that AR and VR can be successful at many levels and it’s very easy to jump into it at the free level,» Mr Davidson said.

«If students are using their smartphone, they’re bringing the technology with them and they can just use augmented reality at no cost. With virtual reality, you can get headsets for a couple of dollars.»

Mr Davidson said the technology is useful across all subjects, with companies now beginning to augment textbooks.

«You can scan the page and a 3D solar system will appear and you can rotate and move that around,» he said.

«It can help students digest complex concepts at a higher rate, we look at things in a 3D perspective so it’s more natural and easier to understand than 2D things.

«And there’s a high degree of motivation, students are quite excited by it because some of them are having that experience with games but it’s something they’ve never done in the classroom.»

The dive into educational uses for technology by schools and businesses comes amid warnings that smartphones and other devices may be affecting students’ focus in the classroom, as well as their level of physical activity and quality of sleep.

Finnish education expert Pasi Sahlberg recently said smartphones should be banned, at least at the primary school level, which was supported by NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes.

However, Mr Davidson said industry developments and widespread phone ownership are making tools such as augmented and virtual reality far more accessible in schools.

Mr Davidson will speak to Australian teachers about the potential uses of the technology at conferences this year and will also write a report on the subject that will be published by the NSW Premier’s Department.

«There’s a level of awareness [about augmented and virtual reality], but when I demonstrate it at different places teachers can see the benefit of it,» he said.

«You can go on virtual excursions to anywhere in the world, students can get an immersive experience in Africa, the Great Barrier Reef.

«With the amount of money that’s being invested in this, it’s going to become a tool students can utilise in all their education.

«And teachers can see how they can quickly and easily put it into what they’re already doing.»
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India: Teacher in sexual harassment row a repeat offender

Asia/India/20.06.18/Por Payal Dhawan/Source:

LUDHIANA : A day after Raikotpolice booked a government school teacher for allegedly sexually harassing a Class VIII school, the education department suspended him on Monday. In the suspension notice, director of public instructions (secondary) Paramjit Singh said the teacher was accused of sexual harassment by another girl student in 2016.

The official said the teacher had at that time given an apology for the incident. In the suspension notice, a copy of which is with TOI, the department has given 15 days to the teacher to give an explanation on the accusation against him.

The notice has stated that this was the second time the teacher had been accused of sexually harassing a student, so he was being suspended by the school. The education department’s action came a day after Raikot police registered a case against the teacher for allegedly sexually harassing a Class VIII student of his school.

The FIR was lodged after the school’s head had filed a police complaint against him, on the direction of Punjab State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights. Following the complaint, police had booked the teacher under Section 354A (sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code and under sections of Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

It has been alleged that the schoolgirl had to stay back at school because of bad weather, while most student had left for home, on May 2. The girl and the teacher were alone when he saw the girl, grabbed her and harassed her, it has been alleged.

The girl escaped from there and informed her family about the incident on reaching home. Her family had complained to the school against the teacher on May 4. An internal probe by the school had indicted the teacher. However, he was let-off after the matter was resolved by the village’s panchayat, and no one approached the police.

However, some village residents reported the incident to Punjab secretary (education) Krishan Kumar, who ordered local education officials to submit a report after inquiry. The report of district education officer also indicted the teacher. Taking suo-motu notice of the matter, the Punjab State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights summoned the school head and district education officer (secondary) Swaranjit Kaur.

The DEO presented a report which indicted the teacher. After this, the commission directed DPI (secondary) Paramjit Singh to suspend the teacher and the education department to lodge a police complaint.

Source of the notice:

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10 (More) Reasons Why the U.S. Education System Is Failing

By Matthew Lynch

We must grapple with digital equity, year-round schooling, gender parity in STEM, and more.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post for my Education Futures opinion blog on, entitled “10 Reasons the U.S. Education System Is Failing.” I listed 10 problems and issues that prevent the U.S. education system from living up to its potential. Even years later, my list—which addressed economic shortfalls, gender and racial disparities, parent engagement, and more—still periodically shows up as one of’s top-read blog posts of the day.

Because of this sustained interest from readers, Education Week’s opinion editors thought it would be interesting to revisit this list, and I wholeheartedly agreed. Most of the reasons that I listed still ring true, so I am adding 10 additional emerging problems and issues with our education system.

Without further ado, let’s get started.


1. In this digital age, we need to rethink literacy. Historically, literacy referred to print texts, but it’s becoming increasingly complex as we transition to a digital age. To accommodate this generational shift, educators need to start adopting a curriculum that covers digital literacy. Beyond basic reading and writing, students should be able to use technology to conduct research and make their own judgments about what they read. Without these skills, students will be left behind in our digital age.

2. The way we currently assess students is not working. The current testing system does not accurately measure the progress of individual students. In our digital age, we should be searching for testing options that can implement technology, gather information, and account for the differences among students who take the assessments. The initial cost outlay could be substantial, but we owe it to our students to create a fair testing system to help deliver brighter minds for the future.

3. We do a poor job of educating boys of color. Black and Latino boys have consistently been misunderstood in America’s schools. Their behavior, learning styles, and social skills are often misconstrued as problems. Until this situation is remedied, boys of color will continue to slip through the cracks. They have higher dropout, poverty, and incarceration rates than their peers. Perhaps the education system is partly to blame.

4. We continue to retain and socially promote students. The U.S. education system retains students at astronomical rates. The cost is outlandish, likely exceeding $12 billion annually, according to a 2012 estimate from The Brookings Institution, even though research shows that holding children back has little effect on their academic achievement. On the other hand, social promotion also poses a problem, as students will struggle to meet academic standards without extraordinary intervention. To end social promotion and retention, we must move from a graded classroom approach to a multi-age approach. Multi-age classrooms let students learn at an individualized pace, working to reach their full potential in their own time.

«The result is that wealthy students end up ahead, creating another barrier for schools with high poverty rates.»

5. Anti-intellectualism and academic disengagement are running rampant. In this digital age, students are accustomed to instant gratification. In response, school districts water down academic standards to keep students on an equal footing, but the result is academic disengagement. Traditional education is undermined by this growing anti-intellectualism. Today’s students are less inclined to pursue academic achievement if it offers no direct relevance in their daily lives.

6. We need more year-round schools. Most schools in America maintain the antiquated system of granting students the summer off, even though the economic justifications for such a schedule no longer exist. Unfortunately, the solid evidence that a switch to year-round schooling would improve our academic system is ignored because it’s too challenging to make a change. Teachers and policymakers alike would have to agree to switch up the status quo to accommodate this drastic shift in scheduling.

7. We are not able to consistently produce quality teachers. A child’s education is highly dependent upon the instruction they receive. The reality is straightforward: Not all teachers entering the classroom have enough training and experience to foster student learning. A strong teacher is an invaluable classroom tool, but we have yet to discover what it takes to produce strong educators with any degree of consistency.

8. We are not doing enough to foster digital equity. In the modern age, technology is an essential part of the world and academics. Students from wealthier backgrounds have greater access to the internet and technology in general than their impoverished counterparts. The result is that wealthy students end up ahead, creating another barrier for schools with high poverty rates. Digital equity could eliminate this gap and provide a more level playing field.

9. We are not doing enough to get girls involved with STEM. Despite Beyoncé’s declaration that girls run the world, there are still plenty of academic fields where females are underrepresented. The booming STEM industry is primarily male-dominated, with few opportunities for young girls to join. The issue is not a lack of interest but a lack of encouragement for girls to enter these fields or study the subjects at school. We must find new ways to promote STEM subjects to girls and help them foster a love for the mechanical and chemical.

10. Teacher-preparation programs don’t teach neuroscience. Most teacher-preparation programs focus exclusively on education instead of providing a more holistic view. Truly great educators need to understand neuroscience to grasp how the brain and nervous system work fully. It would fortify educators if they had a better understanding of how the brain learns new information and how strong neural pathways are formed. Even the most basic understanding of neuroscience could influence and improve the way teachers perform in the classroom.

The underachievement of the U.S. education system is not the result of one problem. It is a confluence of issues that undercut the cultural importance of education equity and broad-based intellect. To achieve better results, we must put aside partisan politics and petty policy disagreements and try to improve our schools, no matter what. I am overjoyed that my last piece has resonated with my readers, and I hope this installment will also strike a chord. Now, let’s get to work.



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