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Showing posts from October, 2012

Got any good ideas about how to improve education?

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by Pablo Zoido Analyst, Early Childhood and Schools Division, Directorate for Education
Do you have an idea about how to improve quality and equity in education in your country or region, but need some time and support to research that idea? You might find what you’re looking for through the OECD’s new Thomas J. Alexander Fellowship Programme.

In effect, the OECD is holding a “competition for ideas” on education policy. As Andreas Schleicher, deputy director of the OECD’s education directorate, puts it, the Fellowship “provides an opportunity to identify and nourish the best available ideas”. The Fellowship, named after a dynamic and admired former head of the OECD’s education team and funded by the Open Society Foundations, offers a chance for qualified candidates to work with international experts on education policy, including during a stay at the OECD’s headquarters in Paris.

Prospective candidates can come from any field of study and from anywhere in the world; those from emerging …

The more the merrier

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by Tracey Burns
Analyst, Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, Directorate for Education

Who is responsible for successes and failures of schools? A new Education Working Paper says  involving parents and students can help improve education systems by including them in accountability and school achievement processes. The traditional approach where central government provides the resources and made the majority of decisions has given way in many OECD countries to greater autonomy and control over decision-making for schools and local governments. This greater freedom has developed hand in hand with the rise of benchmarking and international assessments, and has made accountability a hot topic for policy makers and communities alike.

But what about other voices? Parents, community leaders, and others are taking an increasingly active role in governing their local schools. This trend, called “multiple accountability”, aims to provide more localized and nuanced feedback and guidance …

How “green” are our children?

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by Marilyn Achiron
Editor, Directorate for Education
As the threats to the environment become ever more urgent, are our children learning what they need to know to make environmentally responsible decisions now and later on? The latest issue of PISA in Focus finds that while most 15-year-olds have some understanding of environmental issues and feel responsible towards the environment, those without some scientific knowledge consistently underestimate the amount of time needed to find solutions to pressing environmental problems.

When tested on their understanding of the science of environmental issues, and when asked about their attitudes towards these issues, large majorities of 15-year-olds across OECD countries not only knew about such issues as air pollution, the loss of plant and animal species, and water shortages, but also felt a strong sense of personal and social responsibility towards these issues. For example, an average of 92% of students believes that air pollution represe…

What the D in OECD stands for

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byBarbara Ischinger
Director for Education

Did you know that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development helped to lay the groundwork for the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals? Even though Development is part of our name, there are many people who don’t realise just how much of our resources are devoted to developing economies and not only to the development of the OECD’s 34 member countries.

The focus of this year’s International Economic Forum on Africa, held at the OECD’s Paris headquarters in early October, was youth employment, but this issue cannot be separated from another one just as important:  education. The African Economic Outlook 2012 notes that in Egypt, for example, about 1.5 million young people are unemployed at the same time that private-sector firms cannot fill 600 000 vacancies. And in South Africa, there are 3 million young people who are neither in education nor employed and 600 000 unemployed university graduates, yet 800 000 jobs are vac…

Women leaders can break the mould

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Indira Samarasekera, President of the University of Alberta  in Canada, was one of the keynote speakers at this year’s Institutional Management in Higher Education (IMHE) Conference, held at OECD headquarters in Paris this past September. Marilyn Achiron, Editor at the OECD’s Education Directorate, spoke with her about a variety of subjects:

Marilyn Achiron:What unique talents do women have as school leaders, and how can we achieve gender equality in school leadership positions?
Indira Samarasekera: At the risk of overgeneralising, women tend to network more, and perhaps listen more, to a variety of stakeholders. Men have tended to have to follow the mould of someone before them; but women can break the mould. That’s the advantage of women leaders.
Gender equality in school leadership has often been difficult to achieve because of the challenges of women having children. The question is: How do you support that? It requires that people in the university be thoughtful and mindful. There …

Are countries educating to protect against unemployment?

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by Dirk Van Damme
Division Head, Innovation and Measuring Progress (IMEP) and Head of Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI)


More people than ever before now reach a level of educational attainment equivalent to upper secondary education. The available evidence is very conclusive: this level of education can be considered a minimum level to ensure a job and a living wage. As the latest issue of the OECD’s Education Indicators in Focus details, the difference in unemployment risks in OECD countries between individuals with and without an upper secondary qualification is significant. In 2010, across OECD countries, 19.1% of 25-34 year-olds without an upper secondary qualification were unemployed, compared with 9.8% of young adults of the same age who had an upper secondary qualification. And without an upper secondary qualification, the risk of poverty is looming: some 27% of people without an upper secondary education earn less than half the median income – around 10 perc…

It's high time to fight corruption in education

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by Mihaylo Milovanovitch
Policy Analyst, Non-Member Economies, Directorate for Education

A modern day Bulgarian proverb says “What money can’t buy, a lot of money can”. Sadly, the truth of this popular wisdom holds well beyond the country it comes from. Sadly too, it seems to work well in schools and universities. Year by year Transparency International (TI), an international anti-corruption NGO, publishes data on the perceptions and experience of people from around the globe with corruption and in 2011 it reported that 35% of the world population considered education in their respective countries to be extremely corrupt.

There is no lack of individual examples. A media outlet in Serbia, a country in which more than quarter of the population this year is officially without a job, recently reported that getting one as a teacher would cost you 7000 EUR - the equivalent of around 22 average salaries. Students are ready to pay too. To succeed in school in Kyrgyzstan, they better be ready (…