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World Bank Loans Morocco $100 Million for Education Development Funding

Morocco has made strides in ensuring the quality and coverage of their educational system in recent decades. The World Bank reports encouraging statistics: a rise in primary school enrollment from 52.4 per cent to 98.2 per cent over the last decade, and a rise from 17.5 per cent to 56.7 per cent in secondary education. However, there are still serious issues facing the country— notably a significant decline in enrollments between primary and secondary school and unequal access to education in urban and rural areas. The report shows, for example, that in urban areas, 79 per cent of boys are enrolled in secondary school, while in rural areas only 26 per cent of girls are in school.

Students Outside Casablanca, Morocco (School #3)Morocco also struggles with ensuring a quality education for its students. In the 2011 Trends in Mathematics and Science Study, only 26 per cent of Moroccan 4th graders reached international benchmarks in mathematics, and only 36 per cent of 8th graders met those standards.

To promote the gains in Morocco, the World Bank has issued two $100 million loans since 2010, with the goal of increasing access to schools, especially for young women. The need to promote a strong educational system in Morocco has become more urgent recently, as youth unemployment continues to grow and jobs are harder to come by. Morocco needs to continue its push toward educational reform to field a more competitive workforce.

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Ghana Promotes Science Education

Students at Saint Joseph's Primary SchoolIn an effort to ensure that students receive a well-rounded education and can better compete on the world stage, the government of Ghana has begun new initiatives to promote science education in the classroom.

Among the new programs is a Mathematics, Science, and Technology Scholarship Scheme for secondary school and university students, established by the Ghanaian government. Providing incentives for students choosing to study the STEM fields is essential, and to that end the government has also slated the resources to upgrade school science centers, including tools and equipment.

At a recent speaking engagement, government minister Helen Adjoa Ntoso also announced a provision of 400,000 laptops and desktop computers to schools across the country, urging teachers to focus on software programs and technology education in the classroom.

Madam Ntoso’s remarks echoed those of Professor Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, who has called for a revitalization of science education in the country.

Schools need to be equipped with computer labs, Asenso-Okyere said, so that students can conduct experiments and develop computing skills. In addition, schools should establish science clubs and science fairs, and students should be able to see science in action through fieldtrips.

According to Professor Asenso-Okyere, developing a national interest in and appreciation for science is a process that should be seen as contributing to Ghana’s overall economic and social development.

“Investing in science to improve the standard of living of people is investing in the future,” he said.

For tips on engaging students with science in your classroom, check out Open Equal Free’s series of articles on the subject.

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Literacy for Anywhere

We’ve got a new program in the works! A full, professionally developed, series of leveled readers for primary students that can be downloaded, translated, and printed, for free!

Check out our video above, and donate to, like, and share the campaign!

 

Indonesia’s New Education Curriculum Experiment Set to Begin in July 2013

Tekun

Amidst heavy criticism, Indonesia’s Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh is ready to implement a new curriculum in July, despite the fact that less than ten percent of schools are ready to implement it.

In an effort to improve the nation’s education quality, the new curriculum integrates science and civic education with religious and moral education while decreasing exposure to social science and English. Nuh claims that “students haven’t been taught enough to think creatively. Education should be both accurate and offer the the best lesson, and this can be achieved by teaching them to be creative.”

Nuh, among others, believes that morals and other subjects can be simultaneously taught by integrating underemphasized subjects into religious curricula. For example, one civics lesson teaches 10th grade students that discipline can be learned from the behavior of an electron which always moves within its orbit. In another lesson, linear equations suggest that students should learn to live in a heterogeneous society.

Class at Sentarum elementary school

 Educators and other activists were able to persuade government officials to cut the initial budget by two-thirds, a total of Rp 829 billion ($85 million.)  The cut provides for the new curriculum to begin in 6,325 schools and 55,762 teachers to be trained in a five day period in early July 2013.  The original budget would have financed 102,435 schools to receive the new curriculum.  However, opponents of the new plan point out that there needs to be further evaluation, training, and proper funding for the implementation of the curriculum which has been untested. Critics point to a lack of input from Indonesian teachers regarding the proposed curriculum.

Undoubtedly, there will be great interest in the outcome of this experiment.  In the meantime, much debate will continue regarding the wisdom of the implementation of the new curriculum set to begin soon in Indonesian schools.

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Engage Your Students with Science – Tip Five: Teach Them What They Want to Know.

 

Children are inquisitive by nature. They are constantly trying to make sense of the world around them and are eager to understand how natural processes occur. Science teachers should make use of that inquisitiveness in order to engage students with the subjects being explored.

Research suggests that students are more likely to get interested in a subject or engage in an activity if they consider what they are learning to be interesting or relevant. Thus, you must to learn what interest your students and explore these interests in class.

Finding these interests may seem more difficult then it actually is. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask for your students’ opinions, giving them the impression that what they are curious about matters. When choosing an activity for the class, you should avoid simply imposing an exercise you have selected. You can have your students come up with questions they want to know the answer to, or prepare two or three activities/subjects to explore in class and allow your students to pick the one they find most interesting. You might even let them plan and conduct an investigation on a subject the class has been studying.

Allowing students to choose what they want to learn will help keep them focused and enthusiastic throughout the entire task.

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Thai Students Receive 24 Points of Compensation

Mathayom 6 (Grade 12) Thai students who recently took the Ordinary National Education Tests (Onet) will receive 24 extra points on the science exam as a result of administrative test errors.

"Final Exam"โรงเรียนเผยอิง Pei-ing SchoolTwo different versions of the exams (No. 100 and No. 200) were distributed among 400,000 students at various universities in Narathiwat province.  No issues were found with the No. 100 version. However, in about 80,000 copies of version No. 200, 16 questions were repeated and 13 more were missing.

Samphan Phanpruek, director of the National Institute of Educational Testing Service (Niets), commented, “Our investigations show computer errors were the cause of the mistakes made when publishing the No.200 exam papers,” Mr Samphan said.

“To make up for the flaw, 24 extra marks will be given to all 400,000 test takers.”

Some students disagree with the decision. Thanawit Krintrakul from Triamudomsuksa School stated, “It is not really fair because both students who studied seriously and those who were lazy and did not prepare will get 24 extra marks. Even one point is very important for us to compete in our university applications.”

Onet made a similar mistake about a month ago. Mathayom 3 (Grade 9) students received 20 extra points on Thai language exams after flaws were detected on two of the questions.

Given these recent errors, some students are now asking school authorities to reconsider the standard use of Onet scores to calculate overall grade point averages.

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Tanzania: Prestigious All-Girls Secondary School Excels in Necta Exams

A shining example of the potential Africa holds for high quality education can be found at the ‘Precious Blood Girls Secondary’ School in the Arusha Region, Tanzania. The school achieved astounding results when ranked against 341 rival schools in the North West region of the country, scoring in the respectable Sixth position out of 4114 institutions.

Smiling Girl at School near Mount Meru Such success in the nationwide examination ‘Form Four’ has established a widespread reputation for the institution. Mothers from the entire eastern region of Africa are clamoring to gain admittance for their daughters at a school that could guarantee academic success.

The secret to the school’s success derives from its founding principles and the consequent motivation of students. Each and every teacher at Precious demands the highest grades attainable. The severity of the practitioners has stimulated test scores similar to those found in western institutions.

The emphasis on the sciences has meant that students are achieving persistent A’s and B’s in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. “We have several clubs here but teachers have to do their best in keeping the students out of the already congested Science Club, by encouraging them to join other organizations,” said the school principal, Sister Hiltruda Mumburi.

Thanks to the constant maintenance of Precious Blood’s vision, the girls who attend have admirable ambitions that are not far out of reach. Doctors, Engineers, Pilots, and even astronauts make up a larger list of science related careers which the students are determined to achieve.

Schools such as Precious Blood give hope and inspiration to other African countries who are fighting for a brighter future.

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Bulgarian President Emphasizes Need for Scientific Innovation

Science World “Education and innovation are the recipe of Bulgaria’s future success.” This is the new mantra championed by Bulgaria’s President, Rosen Plevneliev, in a meeting with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia yesterday.

Bulgaria is a nation that demands that higher emphasis be placed on education, especially in the secondary vocational sector. Speaking with the Chairman of the Bulgarian Academy of sciences, academic Stefan Vodenicharn and 14 other colleagues expressed their desire to see their work on the future educational operation program continued.

Plevneliev continued by setting himself a set of development goals to be reached by the end of 2013. These include a careful plan and preparation for a new educational program with an emphasis on science.

The significance of the sciences in the President’s plans will culminate in the creation of a National Innovation Fund, designed to support fresh and innovative ideas found in businesses and high schools nationwide.

The board will be empowered to make “transparent decisions in favor of the development of innovations” in Bulgaria, since the country currently lags behind its European counterparts within the scientific fields.

The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences will be involved in drafting the specifics of the National Innovation Fund, with particular proposals. Scientists working within the academy have outlined their priorities, stating that they seek “a working model and program for adapted education of the Roma Community in Bulgaria, legislative changes regarding scientific ranks and encouragement of scientific research, with emphasis on mathematical and engineering specialties.”

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West London School Provides Extra Tuition for Political Refugees

Owl EducationOn the outskirts of West London a small group of dedicated practitioners have created a multi-storey educational complex tailored towards helping political refugees. Owl Education, situated in Southall, was founded in 1987 due to the fact that many of greater London’s current inhabitants have suffered educational setbacks. Owl therefore offers extra tutoring to the children who need it most.

 Over the last ten years, it is estimated that over 20,000 asylum seekers from countries such as Sri Lanka, Eritrea, and the Federal Republic of Somalia have immigrated to London’s fringes to escape violent conflict. Misplaced and endangered, there now exists a wealth of educationally underprivileged young people clustered in West London who require extra support.

The students who attend Owl Education all have individual needs, yet they all require the same basic schooling if they are to integrate fully into the British mainstream. Owl offers courses in Math, English, and Science to children ranging from four to eighteen years old. The classes take place in the evenings and on the weekends, so that children who attend state schools can top up their learning or work through their school work in this extra time. The aim is to provide intensive, traditional teaching that pupils don’t receive in a classroom environment with thirty other students.

Promina Rhea, Customer Relations Manager is an essential member of the Owl Education team and states that ‘It is initiatives such as this that help to give this demographic the fighting chance they deserve. We are very proud of what we do.’

Picture courtesy of Owl Education Ltd.

Bhutan Bringing Conservation into Conversation and Practice in Elementary Schools

Inside Pema's greenhouse

In Thimphu, Bhutan‘s capital, one school’s moto is “Let nature be your teacher.” The school has a communal vegetable garden, flower gardens, recycle and reuse activities, trees, and children learn basic agricultural skills and about environmental conservation, all as a part of Bhutan’s Green Schools for Green Bhutan program.

The program is part of Bhutan’s commitment to measuring the nation’s success on an internal level using gross national happiness (GNH), which measures a nation’s overall quality of life, and not gross domestic product (GDP), which measures only economic gains. GNH measures success based on seven different qualities: 1. economic wellness, 2. environmental wellness, 3. physical health wellness, 4. mental health wellness, 5. workplace wellness, 6. social wellness, and 7. political wellness.

The Green Schools for Green Bhutan program is underway, but Bhutan struggles to provide the necessary resources to its 650 understaffed elementary schools and 8,000 overworked teachers educating a student population of 170,000. UNICEF Bhutan is working to help implement this program and find a way to train more teachers.

According to Bhutan’s Minister of Education, Thakur Singh Powdyel, “Green schools is not just about the environment; it is a philosophy, so we’re trying to instill a sense of green minds, which are flexible and open to different types of learning. It’s a values-led approach to education that stems from the belief that education should be more than academic attainment; it should be about expanding children’s minds and teaching what it is to be human – and at the forefront of this is the conservation of the natural environment.”

For more information, please click here.

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