"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Monday, August 5, 2013

Basic Education in Other Countries

More than a month ago, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a report on basic education indicators among its members and other countries.


To read the entire report, please visit
http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/education/education-at-a-glance-2013_eag-2013-en

The following figures are excerpts that illustrate some of the conditions that may influence basic education outcomes. First, let us look at class size. The average among OECD members is about 20 students per classroom. Indonesia, a non OECD member, but included in this list has about 25 pupils per classroom in primary and 35 in secondary education. The Philippines has on average 37 in primary and 56 in secondary (Education Statistics - Philippines), making the country comparable only to China in the figure below.

OECD (2013), Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing.

Another piece of data is the ratio of students to teachers. The OECD average is about 15 students per teacher. The highest in the figure below is from Mexico where there are about 25-30 students per teacher across three levels of basic education. The numbers for the Philippines are 36 (elementary) and 38 (high school) (Education Statistics - Philippines), placing it clearly outside of the range in the figure below.

OECD (2013), Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing.
doi: 10.1787/eag-2013-en
Another variable that may influence learning outcomes is instructional time. In the Philippines, the following describes the class schedule for first grade:
From Rappler: Based on the curriculum guide provided by DepEd, the incoming grade 1 students will be taking up 6 subjects for an entire school year. Each subject will be taught for a maximum of 40 minutes per day:
Reading and Writing in the Mother Tongue - 40 minutes
Oral Fluency in Filipino - 40 minutes
Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (EsP) - 30 minutes
Mathematics or Arithmetic - 30 minutes
Araling Panlipunan (AP) - 30 minutes
Music, Arts, Physical Education, Health (MAPEH) - 30 minutes 
When the second half of the school year comes, a 7th subject, Oral Fluency in English, will be introduced. This subject will be taught for 40 minutes.
Reading and writing take about 120 minutes of instructional time. This is half of the 240-minute instructional time. The reason behind this large percentage is that primary pupils in the Philippines are being taught three languages. Fifty percent is much higher than the 26% spent on average on reading, writing and literature in OECD countries. As a result, pupils in the Philippines spend only 12.5% on mathematics, lower than the average time spent on math, 17%, by OECD students. In addition, while Philippine students spend 12.5% of class time on music, arts, physical education, and health, pupils in OECD countries spend 27% on arts, physical education, and science.

OECD (2013), Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing.
doi: 10.1787/eag-2013-en

Another important factor that may affect education outcomes is teacher quality. To attract talent into any profession, competitive salaries are necessary. The OECD average is about 40,000 USD. A teacher in the Philippines receives roughly 12,000 USD (purchasing power parity (PPP) is taken into account). This places a teacher in the Philippines near the lowest end in the figure below. The OECD average is about 40,000 USD, which compares to about 80% of what a college graduate would earn in other professions.


OECD (2013), Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing.
doi: 10.1787/eag-2013-en

How teachers effectively teach also depend on working conditions. Teachers in the Philippines are expected to spend 6 hours per day in classroom time. Multiplying this by 180 days adds up to 1080 hours per year. In the figure below, only three countries exceed 1000 hours per year; Argentina, Chile and the United States.

OECD (2013), Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing.
doi: 10.1787/eag-2013-en

Lastly, one final picture that may be of concern to all countries is the age distribution of teachers:

OECD (2013), Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing.
doi: 10.1787/eag-2013-en

Most teachers are 30-39 years old (light gray in the above figure). David Weston writes "Why Are Teachers Leaving Education" in The Guardian:

So where are all of our more mature teachers going? According to a 2009 study by researchers at Durham University into recruitment and retention in teaching, the top reasons given for leaving are stress, excessive workload, bureaucracy and behaviour issues. 
Broadly speaking, the majority of teachers in England who leave the profession tend to be either in their early careers (within the first five years) or toward the end (over 50s) – according to earlier Department for Education research. Notably, a significant proportion (around three in 10) of the younger teachers are leaving with an intention to return, for example going on sabbatical, travelling or starting a family. 
The fact that such a large number of more mature teachers are citing stress, workload and bureaucracy as a reason to leave is worrying. It suggests that not only are some teachers burning themselves out and leaving, but that some may be burning themselves out earlier in their career and yet remaining in the classroom in order to retain their salary.

The above figures and numbers should make us think more about basic education indicators....







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