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Showing posts from March, 2012

Women’s outcomes in education and employment: strong gains, but more to do

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by Éric Charbonnier and Corinne Heckmann
Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, Directorate for Education


There’s no denying it: when it comes to education and employment, women are on a roll, all over the world.  As described in the latest issue of the OECD’s new brief series Education Indicators in Focus, the achievement gap between boys and girls has narrowed so much at lower levels of education that the focus of concern is now on the underachievement of boys.  On the 2009 PISA reading assessment, for example, 15-year-old girls outperformed boys in every OECD country, on average by 39 points – the equivalent of one year of school.

Young women are also making strong progress in higher education in OECD countries.  In 2000, 51% percent of women could be expected to enter a university-level programme at some point in their lives; today, the number is 66%.  In fact, the proportion of women who hold a university-level qualification now equals or exceeds that of men in 29 of the 32 …

Teachers Summit highlights need for collective leadership

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by Kristen Weatherby
Senior Analyst, Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS)

Yesterday was the first day of the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in New York City, co-hosted by the US Department of Education, Education International and the OECD. I was lucky enough to be an attendee, along with government and union representatives, teachers and school leaders from 24 countries around the world.

The theme of this year’s summit is Preparing Teachers and Developing School Leaders. All presentations and discussions at the summit are designed to give countries examples of high-performing systems that are successful in:
1. Placing high-quality teachers in the areas where there is the most need;
2. Preparing teachers to equip students with 21st century skills; and
3. Growing school leaders at scale.

Andreas Schleicher (who will be blogging later about the conclusions of the Summit) gave the first presentation of the summit using data from various OECD studies to frame …

A View from the Teachers’ Summit

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By John Bangs Special consultant on OECD issues for Education International, the global body for all teachers’ organisations

I have two hopes for this summit: The fact that the number of countries and unions participating in the summit this year is up by a third compared with last year reflects the increasing understanding that it is teacher policies that matter. Their ability, their confidence and their self-efficacy are crucial. I hope that the kind of dead-end discussion about how choice and the market yield better performance begins to fade away.
My second hope is that the Dutch government continues this summit in 2013 as it has offered to do, and that we continue to build greater dialogue into the summit. South Africa is attending as an observer country this year. This is absolutely the right thing to do: to invite countries that are determined to improve their education systems to enter the dialogue with those whose education systems have improved, to encourage a dialogue between …

Lessons in learning, amid the rubble

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by Barbara Ischinger
Director for Education

A school band played for us. It was the best school band I’ve ever heard—and I’ve heard many. It was the true image of hope, team spirit and positive attitudes. For the students, it was the welcome experience of normality.

A brass band playing in the midst of vast devastation; a landscape that reminded me of street scenes from my childhood in Germany after the war. But this was just one week ago, in Japan, during a visit to the area torn apart by the earthquake and tsunami a year ago today. I went there to participate in the launch of the Japan edition of our Strong Performers, Successful Reformers series and to discuss the OECD’s Tohoku School project with local partners.

This is a project whereby students learn through doing. In this case, they are planning an international event, scheduled to be held in 2014 in Paris, to attract visitors to the devastated Tohoku region of Japan. To do this, they will need to acquire and use very specific s…

Knowledge and skills are infinite – oil is not

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by Andreas Schleicher
Deputy Director and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the OECD's Secretary-General
As the bible notes, Moses arduously led the Jews for 40 years through the desert – just to bring them to the only country in the Middle East that had no oil. But Moses may have gotten it right, after all. Today, Israel has an innovative economy and its population enjoys a standard of living most of its oil-rich neighbours don't offer. More generally, countries with greater total rents from natural resources tend to be economically and socially less developed, as exports of national resources tend to appreciate the currency, making imports cheap and the development of an industrial base more difficult. And as governments in resource-rich countries are under less pressure to tax their citizens they are more prone to autocratic leadership.

But there is more to this: OECD’s PISA study shows that there is also a significant negative relationship between the money countries e…

How do we keep new teachers teaching?

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by Kristen Weatherby
Senior Analyst, Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS)

In many countries, we read stories in the media about large numbers of teachers – up to half in some countries – leaving the teaching profession before their first five years of teaching are finished. This statistic, exaggerated or not, is often followed by questions such as these:
Why are new teachers leaving the profession – seemingly in droves?Does this mean that the government is wasting money training new teachers who leave before five years?What happens to the consistency and institutional knowledge and experience in schools if teachers are constantly leaving and more new teachers are arriving? And finally
What kind of support can be provided to new teachers to prevent them from leaving the profession? The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) at the OECD looked at the responses of new teachers (those with two years or less of teaching experience) from the TALIS 2008 survey and has …

Great (Career) Expectations? A Tale of Two Genders

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by Marilyn Achiron
Editor, Directorate for Education
International Women’s Day (March 8) is always a great occasion to focus on the obvious: that some women have made great strides in recent decades in fulfilling their potential; that there is still a long way to go before all women enjoy true equality in all societies. This month’s edition of PISA in Focus decided to dig a little deeper: given that girls are doing as well as, if not better than, boys in most core subjects at school, do boys and girls now expect to pursue similar careers when they become adults?

In 2006, PISA asked 15-year-old students what they expect to be doing in early adulthood, around the age of 30. In almost all OECD countries, girls are more ambitious than boys: on average, girls were significantly more likely than boys to expect to work in high-status careers such as legislators, senior officials, managers and professionals. France, Germany and Japan were the only OECD countries where similar proportions of boy…

Let’s learn a new language

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by Lynda Hawe
Communications Officer, Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI), Directorate for Education

How many of you have experienced while travelling, in a country which hosts a foreign language and a different culture, the desperate need to wholeheartedly express yourself?  As frantically you watch your intrigued interlocutor return your inadequate efforts with blank looks of total incomprehension! Then, with the support of some friendly smiles, warm gestures and some very theatrical hand waving motions, suddenly the situation eases and you feel a connection, even if you’re still not completely understood!

The language assets of a country, as well as the language components of human capital of individuals, can provide to be of a comparative advantage in our globalising world. Visibly, globalisation transcends time and geographical barriers as well as political and social ideals. It also enhances the blending of cultural elements, such as music, languages and cuisine…