Showing posts from April, 2017

Working together to build the culture of learning in the Netherlands

by Andreas Schleicher 
Director for Education and Skills, OECD

The Dutch are known for making a virtue of necessity. Now is a time when their reputation will be put to the test.
The Netherlands’ economy and society are being transformed by technological change, increased economic integration, population ageing, increased migration and other pressures. A highly skilled population with the opportunities, incentives and motivation to develop and use their skills fully and effectively will be essential for confronting the challenges and seizing the opportunities of the future. The Dutch skills system is strong compared to others internationally, but still the Dutch understand that for a small country with an open economy to remain competitive, it will need to reinforce the foundation of skills on which Dutch success has been built.
The OECD Skills Strategy Diagnostic Report: Netherlands, published today, identifies nine key skills challenges for the Netherlands and three priority areas for…

Learning in school as a social activity

by Mario Piacentini
Analyst, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills
What do 15-year-old students really need from school and what can school give them for their personal growth? The third volume of PISA 2015 results on students' well-being shows how important it is that education helps them develop not only knowledge and cognitive skills, but also the social and emotional competencies and resilience to thrive in the face of present and future challenges. Schools can attend to these needs, and making schools happy and caring communities is a feasible and worthwhile pursuit.

Happy schools are places where children feel challenged but competent, where they work hard but enjoy it, where social relationships are rewarding and respectful, and where academic achievement is the product but not the sole objective. Creating happy schools is the joint responsibility of teachers, parents and students.

All of us have memories of at least one teacher who made a difference in our life. My firs…

Country Roads: Education and Rural Life

by Marc Fuster
Consultant, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

“Country roads, take me home” sang John Denver a while ago and, in fact, improvements in transportation and communication technologies have brought our cities and towns closer together. Some rural regions benefit today from their proximity to social and economic urban centres to attract people and enhance their economic competitiveness. Nevertheless, the attractiveness of rural regions, particularly those more remote, has been dropping off in many OECD countries. The trend is more severe among the young: Rural populations are ageing faster and in some cases declining.

The loss of critical mass makes service delivery more difficult and puts economic and social sustainability at risk. Education plays an important role in this equation as knowledge and skills are critical drivers of individual development, community cohesion and economic competitiveness. Yet several challenges for individuals in rural communities remain,…

Developing an agenda for research and education in Wales

by Hannah von Ahlefeld
Project Lead, TALIS Initial Teacher Preparation study, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

It’s an exciting time in Wales for education. In the wake of a number of high-profile reports by the OECD and leading international experts urging change in teacher education, Wales is implementing a wave of reforms designed to improve delivery of teacher education. There is a new curriculum; new teacher and leadership standards for teachers; and new accreditation standards for providers of initial teacher education.

Research can be used as an important pillar and driver of these reform efforts. The need to build research capacity was underscored in Professor John Furlong’s review of initial teacher education in Wales, Teaching Tomorrow Teachers. He highlighted the importance of research as a means of developing student teachers as critical consumers of or participants in research; recognising the role of research or critical reflection in teachers’ professional learn…

Does the world need people who understand problems, or who can solve them?

by Dirk Van Damme
Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, Directorate for Education and Skills 

The label “21st -century skills” is being increasingly used, and sometimes misused, to indicate that the rapidly changing economic, social and cultural environment of the current century demands a revision of what we think are crucial subjects for the next generations to learn. Examples include creativity, innovation, critical thinking, curiosity, collaboration, cross-cultural understanding or global competence. Some people wonder whether these skills are truly new, or whether education has always been about fostering these capabilities. But stakeholders – not least employers and the business sector – continue to complain that they don’t find candidates leaving the education systems who have the skills they think matter for the jobs they have to offer. And they claim that this is the case because current education systems do not sufficiently prioritise the development of such…

Building tax systems to foster better skills

by Pascal Saint-Amans
Director, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration
Andreas Schleicher
Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

Investing in skills is crucial for fostering inclusive economic growth and creating strong societies. In an increasingly connected world, skills are particularly important for citizens to get the most out of new forms of capital, such as big data and robotics. More and more, policy makers are recognising that rapid change in technologies and work practices mean that people will have to continually upgrade their skills throughout their lives.

This new reality raises many questions for governments, firms and individuals, including: who is to pay for all these skills investments? In many OECD countries, student debt is rising, and in many others, public debts are persistently high. How can policy makers decide on the right financing mix for students and governments?

This is where taxes have an important role to play. In a nutshell, delivering educat…

Preparing teachers for change – in and outside of the profession

by Andreas Schleicher
Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

Every year in March, education ministers and union leaders of the highest-performing and most rapidly improving education systems (according to PISA) meet to seek ways to improve the status of the teaching profession. Many countries could use such guidance. While in Finland teaching has become the most prestigious profession – those who don’t compete successfully for a place in teacher education can still become lawyers and doctors – in other countries, the situation is very different. In the Slovak Republic, France and Sweden, for example, just 5 in 100 teachers agree that teaching is a valued profession in society; in Croatia and Spain, fewer than 10 in 100 teachers agree.

Ministers and union leaders concur that success hinges on ownership by the profession. Real change won’t happen without teachers being active agents for change. When governments don’t succeed in engaging teachers in the design of reforms, tea…

How to return to the “gold standard” for education

by Andreas Schleicher
Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

Results from our comparative PISA studies have often been disappointing for Sweden; they’ve been disappointing for me too. When I was a university student, I used to look to Sweden as the gold standard for education. It was a country that was providing high-quality and innovative education to children from all social classes, and that was close to making lifelong learning a reality for all.

But sometime in the early 2000s, the Swedish school system somehow lost its soul. Superior learning outcomes weren’t enough anymore: Swedish educators felt that they had to offer their students shiny buildings in shopping centres, or a driving license instead of better teaching.
And even though students were getting better marks each year, PISA observed a steady decline in the quality of learning outcomes. Beyond that, new analyses show that, after Finland and Korea, Sweden has also seen one of the biggest increases in social…