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Do schools meet the demands of Society?

NOT:

- Moreover, education should take account of the needs of employers and give the pupils
the type of training the business world regards as important.
- It is evident thus that the conventional school system does not keep up with the increasing
demands of the society. Considerable changes are necessary that would be aimed at
making school education more practical and more closely connected with the world of
professions, industry and commerce.
- People who went to different schools confess that when they completed their school
education they had not the remotest idea of what they wanted to do
- The best thing that schools can do now is make sure people have the core of knowledge
and skills and ability to decide what they want to do with their lives.
- I think we're preparing children for the middle of the 20th century and not for the 21st. And
by that I mean we are not equipping them with the skills and the attributes and the
competencies that they need. And I think that's partly an obsession with a certain type of
rigid exam. And there's no assessment of all those other qualities which we all know that
children need out there in the real world. The main graduate website lists all the qualities
that employers are looking for, like problem-solving, like initiative, like teamwork, like very
good spoken communication. We've got to totally revamp what we're teaching.

-YES:
- Hong Kong: Emphasis on diligence: It's not natural ability, it's hard work. There
is a curriculum to be followed, a book to be covered and a scheme of work that
teachers stick to. It's largely academic. Chinese, maths and English are the core
subjects. English classes can amount to a quarter of all weekly classes. Art, music,
drama and physical education are usually one or two lessons a week but they get
chopped in the run-up to exams.

upils are used to working under pressure and working towards examinations. To a
large extent the style of teaching is traditional but it is not rote learning without
understanding, it is memorisation with understanding.
Pedagogy: There's a mix of academic rigour and structure. There's a theory of
learning behind everything. They don't do a project just for the sake of doing it -
there's a framework of learning.
Other factors which impact on teaching: One of the big issues in Hong Kong is
space. There are 42 kids in each classroom and the only way to organise them is
in old-fashioned rows. Teachers often use microphones. They are the gurus and
there is little group work or student participation. It is difficult with 42 kids to give
them individual attention.

Some school principals have the belief that a silent classroom is a good classroom.
The idea that children can learn through discussion has not always permeated
through. There have been some moves towards activity-based learning but
success has been limited.
Final word: I think the UK government has taken the rhetoric of Hong Kong but not
the reality. The devolution of powers to schools is often seen as one of Hong
Kong's achievements but the Education Bureau still makes a lot of the decisions.

The context is important. You cannot transpose Hong Kong's style of learning
somewhere else without changing the parents, teachers and classroom
architecture.

Finland

Prof Kristiina Kumpulainen, Department of Teacher Education, University of


Helsinki:
Welfare society: There is an emphasis on supporting every individual, every child
regardless of their economic or social background. This basic principle of equality
applies to our education system but also healthcare and social care. It's an holistic
approach.

We pay for it through taxes and the government tries to support every family.
Highly-qualified teachers: Our teaching profession is highly valued and respected.
The programmes are highly competitive and many students do not get a place. We
get highly motivated students and the five-year courses are to masters level. Even
if you teach at a primary school, you need to have a masters qualification. This is
not the same in other Nordic countries.
here is a relaxed atmosphere in Finnish schools

The classroom is a very interactive space where pupils can challenge the teacher.
The traditional teacher-directed style is not so typical in Finland.
Local power: Municipalities and schools have a lot of power to localise the national
core curriculum. We trust our teachers as they have been selected through a
careful process. They are given a lot of freedom and responsibility to tailor learning
according to the needs of every child. They are not just paying lip service or
following a script.

There are core subjects such as literacy, numeracy and science but we try to
achieve a balance in the curriculum. A school day is a mix of core subjects and
also art, physical education, woodwork and entrepreneurial education (at
secondary level).

The curriculum is being renewed and is due out in 2015. There will be an increase
in 21st Century skills, such as collaboration, social interaction, problem solving and
life-long learning, but they will not be separate from the core subjects, they will be
integrated.
Other factors which impact on teaching: Class sizes are between 15 to 25 across
primary and secondary schools. There are no national examinations or rankings.
We don't have that culture of comparing schools. If a school is not doing well, it is
not closed down. It is given more resources.
Final word: There are elements of the Finnish model which could be implemented
elsewhere, such as the emphasis on high quality teachers.

The teaching environment is also important. In relaxed and educationally-


supportive environments children are granted authority and accountability in and
for learning. We believe that learning and interacting in relaxed educational
environments will teach children for life, not for school.

South Korea

Prof Paul Morris, from the Institute of Education, University of London, is a


comparative educator who specialises on East Asian education systems:
Connection between exams and the curriculum: The prevalence of testing and
examinations has a long history and is embedded in the culture. The curriculum is
effectively defined by what is examined. Places come to a standstill on days of
public examinations such as the university entrance examination. Traffic is stopped
and planes will be diverted to minimise noise.

Image captionAsian countries such as


South Korea have led the international rankings

The curriculum is dominated by languages, maths and science. English has


become a very important element of social mobility.

The high scores on Pisa [held every three years by the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development to measure pupils' skills in reading, numeracy and
science] probably reflects a strong overlap between the test questions and the
exam-driven curriculum that schools focus on, as well as the hard work by the
pupils and the strong support/pressure from parents to succeed.
Connection between social mobility and exams: South Korea, and other Far East
countries, have a long history of using competitive public examinations as a vehicle
for selection and social mobility. It only developed in the West in the 18th Century.
Whether you get into a good school or university is wholly dependent on exam
results. A child's future, status and social mobility are strongly connected to exam
outcomes.
It results in very strong parental support or pressure, depending on how you look at
it. When children go home the parents are often on top of them to do their
homework. They will also employ private tutors if they can afford it.
Culture of diligence: Children are expected to put the time in. There's a belief that
people have differing abilities but everyone can get there - it might just take some a
lot longer.

Although the classroom has become more interactive in the last 10 to 20 years, a
South Korean lesson would be viewed by people in the UK as didactic, orderly and
teacher-led.
Other factors which affect the style of teaching: Education has been strongly
harnessed to nation building and instilling a strong sense of national identity.
During the '60s and '70s, many of the East Asian countries were driven by the idea
that they were still part of an unfinished war - South Korea with North Korea,
Taiwan with China - and they used economic growth as a way of competing and
ensuring national cohesion and survival.
Final word: The Pisa tests tell only one side of the story. Korean schools can be
extremely stressful for children. Surveys tend to suggest that children don't like
going to school - they are often stressed and not happy or they're bored.

Schooling is seen to be a process of certification. Questions are being asked as to


whether the system is producing the sorts of people the economy and society
needs. The system does encourage hard work and diligence but the concerns are
that it is unduly stressful, does not promote creativity and the ability to be critical.
-BARBADOS: The Barbados government has invested heavily in
education, resulting in a literacy rate of 98%, one of the highest in the
world. Primary runs from 4 to 11, with secondary 11 to 18. The majority
of schools at both levels are state-owned and run.