Course: Textbook Development-I (6552) Semester: Autumn, 2021 Level: MA/M.Ed.
Q.1 Highlight the gaps between 2006 curriculum and social studies textbook of secondary level
The focus on the achievement gap has intensified since the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was passed in 2001. In particular, achievement gaps among culturally, linguistically, ethnically, and economically diverse groups pose great concern to educators and policymakers. Another outgrowth of NCLB involves the adoption of high-stakes testing to measure achievement and evaluate school effectiveness (Cronin, Kingsbury, McCall, & Bowe, 2005; NCLB, 2001). The educational literature is replete with recommendations for improving student achievement and closing the achievement gap; however, research suggests that the gap remains. Since the standards and accountability movement gained momentum in the 1990s, school report cards, schoolchoice through vouchers and charter schools, and school takeovers through local and state-level oversight and reconstitution have gained popularity (Harris & Herrington, 2006). Yet, during this time, the achievement gap has increased (Harris & Herrington, 2006). Progress in reducing school segregation and increasing achievement during the 1960s–1980s has faltered. Communities have become more economically segregated, resulting in schools with larger minority and poor populations and lagging achievement (Foorman, Francis, Fletcher, Schatschneider, & Mehta, 1998; Harris & Herrington, 2006; Lara-Conisomo et al., 2004). Poverty continues to be one of the most persistent factors that negatively impacts student achievement (Barton, 2003; Barton & Coley, 2007; Harris & Herrington, 2006; Lara-Conisomo et al., 2004; Lutkus, Grigg, & Donohue, 2007; RAND Labor and Population, 2005). Under No Child Left Behind (2001), reading and mathematics are the two subjects that are used to gauge the academic progress of U.S. students in grades 3–8. Efforts to reduce the achievement gaps in reading and math have resulted in some reductions; however, the gaps between White students and their African American and Hispanic peers, and between students from high and low socioeconomic households still exist (Chatterji, 2006; Cronin et al., 2005; Lutkus et al., 2007). Factors that affect overall student achievement include the rigor of the curriculum; the experience, quality, and commitment of the teachers; the learning environment, including safety and expectations of students; and class size (Barton, 2003; Chatterji, 2006). The family plays an important role in school success: Reading to children at home, parent involvement in school, and regular school attendance promote student achievement (Barton & Coley, 2007; Chatterji, 2006; RAND Labor and Population, 2005). Recommendations for school improvement frequently include standards-based instruction, curriculum alignment and coherence, data-based decision making, improving teacher skills through evaluation and professional development, family and community involvement, and other research-based initiatives.
This article is based on 8 years of work within an elementary school and the historical and working documents accumulated during that time. Information was drawn from staff meeting agendas and supporting documents distributed to the staff, from the strategic plan, from materials prepared for professional development sessions, and from documents created for specific areas of the curriculum including the Global Studies theme in social studies, mathematics, and reading. Data that refer to demographic information were taken from the annual Strategic School Profile, a document that is required by the state within which the school was located. Test score data were taken from the reported scores on the state mastery tests for students in grade 4.
Central Elementary School was one of 11 elementary schools in a high performing suburban district bordering a largecity. However, Central School’s population mirrored its urban neighbor and was considered a failing school. Students were performing in the 30th percentile in reading, writing, and mathematics on state and district assessments. Many of the children had limited background knowledge, weak expressive language, nascent English skills, and limited experiences with books and written language. Poverty was a concern: 45% of the students received free and reduced lunch. The diverse student population included 43% culturally and linguistically diverse students. This figure increased to 75% over an 8-year period. Approximately 30% of the students spoke English as their second language.
Q.2 What are the textbook management process in United States? Enlist some of its salient features
A textbook is a book containing a comprehensive compilation of content in a branch of study with the intention of explaining it. Textbooks are produced to meet the needs of educators, usually at educational institutions. Schoolbooks are textbooks and other books used in schools. Today, many textbooks are published in both print and digital formats.
The history of textbooks dates back to ancient civilizations. For example, Ancient Greeks wrote educational texts. The modern textbook has its roots in the mass production made possible by the printing press. Johannes Gutenberg himself may have printed editions of Ars Minor, a schoolbook on Latin grammar by AeliusDonatus. Early textbooks were used by tutors and teachers (e.g. alphabet books), as well as by individuals who taught themselves.
The Greek philosopher Socrates lamented the loss of knowledge because the media of transmission were changing. Before the invention of the Greek alphabet 2,500 years ago, knowledge and stories were recited aloud, much like Homer‘s epic poems. The new technology of writing meant stories no longer needed to be memorized, a development Socrates feared would weaken the Greeks’ mental capacities for memorizing and retelling. (Ironically, we know about Socrates’ concerns only because they were written down by his student Plato in his famous Dialogues.)
The next revolution in the field of books came with the 15th-century invention of printing with changeable type. The invention is attributed to German metalsmith Johannes Gutenberg, who cast type in molds using a melted metal alloy and constructed a wooden-screw printing press to transfer the image onto paper.
Gutenberg’s first and only large-scale printing effort was the now iconic Gutenberg Bible in the 1450s — a Latin translation from the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament. Gutenberg’s invention made mass production of texts possible for the first time. Although the Gutenberg Bible itself was expensive, printed books began to spread widely over European trade routes during the next 50 years, and by the 16th century, printed books had become more widely accessible and less costly.
While many textbooks were already in use, compulsory education and the resulting growth of schooling in Europe led to the printing of many more textbooks for children. Textbooks have been the primary teaching instrument for most children since the 19th century. Two textbooks of historical significance in United States schooling were the 18th century New England Primer and the 19th century McGuffey Readers.
Recent technological advances have changed the way people interact with textbooks. Online and digital materials are making it increasingly easy for students to access materials other than the traditional print textbook. Students now have access to electronic books (“e-books”), online tutoring systems and video lectures. An example of an e-book is Principles of Biology from Nature Publishing.
Most notably, an increasing number of authors are avoiding commercial publishers and instead offering their textbooks under a creative commons or other open license.
The market for textbooks
As in many industries, the number of providers has declined in recent years (there are just a handful of major textbook companies in the United States). Also, elasticity of demand is fairly low. The term “broken market” appeared in the economist James Koch’s analysis of the market commissioned by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance.
In the United States, the largest textbook publishers are Pearson Education, Cengage, McGraw-Hill Education, and Wiley. Together they control 90% of market revenue. Another textbook publisher is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
The market for textbooks doesn’t reflect classic supply and demand because of agency problems.
New editions and the used book market in the United States
Some students save money by buying used copies of textbooks, which tend to be less expensive, and are available from many college bookstores in the US, who buy them back from students at the end of a term. Books that are not being re-used at the school are often purchased by an off-campus wholesaler for 0-30% of the new cost, for distribution to other bookstores. Some textbook companies have countered this by encouraging teachers to assign homework that must be done on the publisher’s website. Students with a new textbook can use the pass code in the book to register on the site; otherwise they must pay the publisher to access the website and complete assigned homework.
Students who look beyond the campus bookstore can typically find lower prices. With the ISBN or title, author and edition, most textbooks can be located through online used book sellers or retailers.
Most leading textbook companies publish a new edition every 3 or 4 years, more frequently in math and science. Harvard economics chair James K. Stock has stated that new editions are often not about significant improvements to the content. “New editions are to a considerable extent simply another tool used by publishers and textbook authors to maintain their revenue stream, that is, to keep up prices.” A study conducted by The Student PIRGs found that a new edition costs 12% more than a new copy of the previous edition (not surprising if the old version is obsolete), and 58% more than a used copy of the previous edition. Textbook publishers maintain these new editions are driven by demand from teachers. That study found that 76% of teachers said new editions were justified “half of the time or less” and 40% said they were justified “rarely” or “never”. The PIRG study has been criticized by publishers, who argue that the report contains factual inaccuracies regarding the annual average cost of textbooks per student.
The Student PIRGs also point out that recent emphasis on e-textbooks does not always save students money. Even though the book costs less up-front, the student will not recover any of the cost through resale.
Bundling in the United States
Another publishing industry practice that has been highly criticized is “bundling”, or shrink-wrapping supplemental items into a textbook.Supplemental items range from CD-ROMs and workbooks to online passcodes and bonus material. Students often cannot buy these things separately, and often the one-time-use supplements destroy the resale value of the textbook.
According to the Student PIRGs, the typical bundled textbook is 10%-50% more[clarification needed] than an unbundled textbook, and 65% of professors said they “rarely” or “never” use the bundled items in their courses.
A 2005 Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report in the United States found that the production of these supplemental items was the primary cause of rapidly increasing prices:
While publishers, retailers, and wholesalers all play a role in textbook pricing, the primary factor contributing to increases in the price of textbooks has been the increased investment publishers have made in new products to enhance instruction and learning…While wholesalers, retailers, and others do not question the quality of these materials, they have expressed concern that the publishers’ practice of packaging supplements with a textbook to sell as one unit limits the opportunity students have to purchase less expensive used books….If publishers continue to increase these investments, particularly in technology, the cost to produce a textbook is likely to continue to increase in the future.
Bundling has also been used to segment the used book market. Each combination of a textbook and supplemental items receives a separate ISBN. A single textbook could therefore have dozens of ISBNs that denote different combinations of supplements packaged with that particular book. When a bookstore attempts to track down used copies of textbooks, they will search for the ISBN the course instructor orders, which will locate only a subset of the copies of the textbook.
Legislation at state and federal levels seeks to limit the practice of bundling, by requiring publishers to offer all components separately. Publishers have testified in favor of bills including this provision, but only in the case that the provision exempts the loosely defined category of “integrated textbooks.” The Federal bill only exempts 3rd party materials in integrated textbooks, however publisher lobbyists have attempted to create a loophole through this definition in state bills.
Given that the problem of high textbook prices is linked to the “broken” economics of the market, requiring publishers to disclose textbook prices to faculty is a solution pursued by a number of legislatures. By inserting price into sales interactions, this regulation will supposedly make the economic forces operate more normally.
No data suggests that this is in fact true. However, The Student PIRGs have found that publishers actively withhold pricing information from faculty, making it difficult to obtain. Their most recent study found that 77% of faculty say publisher sales representatives do not volunteer prices, and only 40% got an answer when they directly asked. Furthermore, the study found that 23% of faculty rated publisher websites as “informative and easy to use” and less than half said they typically listed the price.
The US Congress passed a law in the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act that would require price disclosure. Legislation requiring price disclosure has passed in Connecticut, Washington, Minnesota, Oregon, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Publishers are currently supporting price disclosure mandates, though they insist that the “suggested retail price” should be disclosed, rather than the actual price the publisher would get for the book.
Used textbook market
Once a textbook is purchased from a retailer for the first time, there are several ways a student can sell his/her textbooks back at the end of the semester or later. Students can sell to 1) the college/university bookstore; 2) fellow students; 3) a number of online websites; or 4) a student swap service.
As for buyback on a specific campus, faculty decisions largely determine how much a student receives. If a professor chooses to use the same book the following semester, even if it is a custom text, designed specifically for an individual instructor, bookstores often buy the book back. The GAO report found that, generally, if a book is in good condition and will be used on the campus again the next term, bookstores will pay students 50 percent of the original price paid. If the bookstore has not received a faculty order for the book at the end of the term and the edition is still current, they may offer students the wholesale price of the book, which could range from 5 to 35 percent of the new retail price, according to the GAO report.
Q.3 Discuss textbooks reforms in publications under the effect of National curriculum 2006 in Pakistan
In 1981, the University Grants Commission issued a directive to Pakistan Studies textbook authors, stating that they were to “guide students towards the ultimate goal of Pakistan, the creation of a completely Islamized State”. Given this direction, Pakistan’s textbook authors certainly did their job well. In the process, as I, and others before me – including K K Aziz, A H Nayyar, and Pervez Hoodbhoy – have documented, those government-approved authors also wrote textbooks rife with biases, negativity, half-truths, errors, over simplifications, and conspiracy theories.
But Pakistan is not the only country to have problems in its textbooks, and hardly the only country to impose its brand of nationalism – in our case, religio-nationalism – through its education system. Research on textbooks in China, Japan, South Korea, and Israel – among other countries – documents similar distortions of history in the name of fostering nationhood.
Yet I argue in my recently published U.S. Institute of Peace report on education and attitudes in Pakistan that curriculum reform is essential to countering radicalism in Pakistan. Government textbooks did not cause Pakistan’s terrorism problem. We can thank a confluence of internal and external geo-political factors for that. But our textbooks have certainly not helped the situation, and have worsened it in some cases; and they define how we respond to terror and the terrorists in our midst.
Textbooks, memorized, drive attitudes on what they focus on most – India, the Pakistani identity, and our national sense of victimhood. But textbooks and schools also define how the public absorbs information — from the media, the mullah, the army, politicians, and each other. So when the army blames RAW for all of Pakistan’s problems, a paranoid public agrees. It forgets the killers in its midst, the Taliban who claimed responsibility for killing 150 schoolchildren in Peshawar.
Teach them how to do research – how to seek out evidences
Why do attitudes matter? After all, believing in conspiracy theories never killed anyone. But such attitudes create space for militant groups to survive, and they define government action toward these groups. And the exclusionary identity cultivated by Pakistani textbooks leads citizens to tolerate increasing sectarian and religious violence. Even worse, this mindset can trigger mob violence. Remember Shama and Shahzad, the Christian couple burnt to death in KotRadhaKishan in November 2014.
So curriculum reform is necessary – but not sufficient – if Pakistan is to find a way out of this mess. But it is easier said than done. Pakistan’s previous attempt at this, the 2006 curriculum reform, failed save for marginal improvements. Now there is no federal ministry of education that could undertake a comprehensive reform, even if it wanted to – not that the ideological leanings of the current PML-N government would make that likely – and curricula are the purview of the provinces.
So unless we see a reversal of the 18th amendment vis-à-vis curricula, textbooks will be dictated by the political leanings of their provinces. Ideologically, Sindh under the PPP is the only province that would lean toward a liberal curriculum but – while it has shown a positive step in that direction by announcing that it will add Jinnah’s August 11 speech to textbooks – it seems too mired in misgovernance to be able to launch and complete a comprehensive reform. The direction in KPK, under pressure from the Jamaat e Islami – reintroducing jihad in textbooks, for one – is regressive. And Punjab shows no signs of wanting to move on curricula.
A complete curriculum reform would allow all Pakistani government schools, and private schools using government textbooks, to follow an international level curriculum that encourages analytical and critical thinking. Textbooks would reflect the latest international scholarship while being authored by Pakistanis (reality in a country where educationist Dr. Bernadette Dean was forced to leave due to security concerns after it became known that had co-authored textbooks). History would be presented as it is written and debated by academic historians, not conjured up by our army and politicians. All this would be costly.
But in a country where the net primary enrollment ratio is only 57 percent, and the primary school completion rate is 50 percent, how realistic is this? The educational system is drowning in problems: 51 percent of schools function without electricity, 36 percent of them have no drinking water, 42 percent of schools are missing a toilet, and 35 percent of schools have no boundary walls. There are at least 8252 ghost schools across the country, according to a recent Supreme Court survey. And teachers – of whom 10 to 18 percent don’t show up on any given day — are struggling to impart basic literacy and math skills. Is costly curriculum reform a “luxury” Pakistan cannot afford, faced as it is with these basic educational access and quality issues?
Pakistan allocates just 2.14% of its GDP to education, or roughly 10% of government spending. And 20-30% of even that — this may come as a surprise — remains unused. In addition, corruption means that the used funds don’t go where they are supposed to.
Meanwhile, Pakistan spends at least 3.5% of its GDP on defense – accounting for roughly 20% of government spending. It spends liberally on “nice-to-have”s, like the metrobus projects — the recently completed one in Islamabad cost Rs. 45 billion; as a comparison, the Punjab government allocated Rs. 48.31 billion in 2014-15 to education (a notable increase from Rs. 23.31 billion in 2013-14).
So Pakistan can afford to fix its access to education and educational quality issues, as well as its curriculum. And given that a comprehensive curriculum reform is very time-consuming in any context (as my experience as faculty at a U.S. university has taught me) – not to mention politically fraught in Pakistan, given that the previous curriculum was instituted explicitly as an Establishment policy — one can start incrementally, and shake up some fundamentals in the process.
Start, for one, by teaching world history as a core subject. It will give students context in which to place their knowledge of Pakistan, teach them about other people and places, and their histories, and hopefully give students the ability to draw common threads across the world.
Teach them how to do research – how to seek out evidence and evaluate sources of information. Focus on discussions and debate within the classroom. De-emphasize the matric exam. Make classroom interactions count for students’ final evaluation.
Present students with additional sources of information beyond prescribed textbooks – with the scholarship of Ayesha Jalal and so many others who have written about Partition.
All this can happen even without new textbooks for Pakistan Studies. Teachers will need to be re-educated twice – once on the additional materials and again on how to engage with students in an interactive manner. Spend the summer training them. Some of these changes can start as early as September.
The above offers a start. It is our best hope for a thinking population, that, even when faced with hate material and militant propaganda, will be able to counter it.
The author is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and a non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution
In April 2010, the eighteenth constitutional amendment committed Pakistan to free and compulsory education for all children between the ages of five and sixteen. Yet, millions are still out of school, and the education system remains alarmingly impoverished. The madrasa (religious school) sector flourishes, with no meaningful efforts made to regulate the seminaries, many of which propagate religious and sectarian hatred. Militant violence and natural disasters have exacerbated the dismal state of education. Earthquakes and floods have destroyed school buildings in Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Punjab, disrupting the education of hundreds of thousands of children. Militant jihadi groups have destroyed buildings, closed girls’ schools and terrorised parents into keeping daughters at home; their attacks made global headlines with the shooting of schoolgirl and education activist Malala Yousafzai in October 2012. The public education system needs to foster a tolerant citizenry, capable of competing in the labour market and supportive of democratic norms within the country and peace with the outside world.
More than nine million children do not receive primary or secondary education, and literacy rates are stagnant. Pakistan is far from meeting its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of providing universal primary education by 2015. The net primary school enrolment rate in 2012-2013 is a mere 1 per cent increase from 2010-2011. There are significant gender disparities and differences between rural and urban areas. The combined federal/provincial budgetary allocation to education is the lowest in South Asia, at 2 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
If Pakistan is to provide all children between five and sixteen free and compulsory education, as its law requires, it must reform a system marred by teacher absenteeism, poorly maintained or “ghost schools” that exist only on paper and a curriculum that encourages intolerance and fails to produce citizens who are competitive in the job market. Private schools, increasing largely in response to these shortcomings, account for 26 per cent of enrolment in rural areas and 59 per cent in urban centres but vary greatly in methodology, tuition and teacher qualifications.
The eighteenth constitutional amendment devolved legislative and executive authority over education to the provinces to make it more responsive to local needs. Given the scale of those needs, donors and the private sector must be key partners, but provincial governments need to become the principal drivers of reform. They should reverse decades of neglect by giving government-run schools adequate materials and basic facilities such as boundary walls and toilets. They should also tackle teacher absenteeism and curb nepotism and corruption in appointments, postings and transfers.
To counter the challenge from the private schools, and madrasas and religious schools of Islamic parties and foundations that fill the gaps of a dilapidated public education sector but contribute to religious extremism and sectarian violence, the state will have to do far more than just increase the numbers of schools and teachers. Curriculum reform is essential and overdue. Provincial governments must ensure that textbooks and teachers no longer convey an intolerant religious discourse and a distorted narrative, based on hatred of imagined enemies, local and foreign.
Q.4 Develop criteria to analzye the contents and structure of a secondry level textbook keeping in view the genere of textbook structure.
Textbooks are much more complex than most other publications. Not only do they need to cover a body of knowledge in a structured and logical way, but they also utilize design elements to help the learner better understand the subject.
For a very helpful introduction to textbooks, watch Characteristics of a textbook (Links to an external site.), a seven-minute video by Oxford University Press Southern Africa.
The Tree Structure
Textbooks can be thought of as having content divided into a tree structure. The terms used to name these structures could be different from book to book, but the author will need to determine the terms used and the number of sub-levels in the tree. Think of it as the highest level outline for the structure of the book. For instance, a textbook could have the following tree structure:
The “Book” is always the trunk of the tree, with the next level usually being “Chapter” or “Unit”. Determining this structure will eventually lead to the full book structure. For example, if the author decides to structure the book with Book⟹Chapter⟹Section, the completed book structure could look like this (showing chapter one sections only):
Each element in the tree consists of structural elements that are designed to aid in learning. Some of these elements are what set textbooks apart from other books. They provide structure, context, overview, motivation, review, and other functions that are useful for learning. Dividing these elements into categories can be helpful when helping authors think about the elements they might want to use. Three of the element types help structure the textbooks content: Openers, Closers, and Integrated Pedagogical Devices1 (Schneider, 2008).
Openers are structural elements that come before the main content of a tree level. Openers help lead the learner into the content. They could provide motivation, an understanding of the structure of the content, or a summary of what is to come. For example chapter openers could include:
- a banner image
- learning objectives
- focus questions
- chapter summary
Closers are structural elements that typically help learners review or reinforce their learning. Closers are typically found after the main content of a tree level. They often help students summarize, review, or practice what they’ve learned. Some example chapter closers are:
- review problems
- chapter summary
- links to external resources
For example, each chapter in a textbook could have the following standard structure that utilizes opener and closer elements:
Note that openers and closers can happen at each level of the tree, including the book, chapter, section, etc.
Integrated Pedagogical Devices
Integrated pedagogical devices1 are strategies and elements used in the main content of a tree element to assist in learning. Often, these devices use design to differentiate each element, which separates them from the rest of the content, and makes the element recognizable through consistent use in each chapter, section, etc.
For example, each chapter in a mathematics textbook might have:
- a “Biography” element that highlights the biography and accomplishments of a famous mathematician
- a “Case Study” element that illustrates the concepts by describing a real-world application
- vocabulary words in bold
- illustration of geometric figures
- graphsIn summary, structural elements aid in learning. They provide context and structure, and can play a role in motivating learners, helping them reflect, and extending their understanding. Structural elements should be used consistently throughout the text so that all instances of a tree element are structured the same. This lessens the cognitive load on students by making the content more easily recognizable.
Q.5 Highlight some of the reforms made for textbooks in last few years. Give some examples from textbook of History
One of the important aspects of the Reforms was educational reform: Kojong’s government issued new textbooks that attempted to not only change the content of education but also its objective. Yoonmi Lee, in Modern Education, Textbooks and the Image of the Nation, examines modernization and nationalism in Korean education during the open ports period, but focuses on the construction of a modern nationhood as envi-sioned by the “modernizers,” a group of reform-minded intellectuals. Lee argues that the redefinition of civilization and education, the emphasis on the royal household, and the construction of heroes and foundation myths were instrumental to modern state formation and a part of Korea’s “cul-tural revolution.”3 As part of an effort “to construct a new society based on the Western model,”4 modern education promoted “pride and harmo-ny of the nation”5 and the textbooks “carry messages serving the nation-alist cause.”6 Lee concludes that through modern mass education, the modernizers “aspired to construct a modern nation based on their inter-pretations of ‘Western’ modernity,” rendering education a “major ‘cultur-al’ agent in the state formation and nation building process.”7 The above works emphasize the construction of a modern state and the development of modern Korean nationalism through political and eco-nomic reforms, with Lee specifically stressing the role of education in the modern nation-building process. Other historians of education have also pointed to the first modern textbooks as harbingers of modernity and a by-product of a cohesive modernization program, beginning with the Kabo Reforms.8 This paper, in contrast to these existing studies, focuses on the self-conscious need of the government to strengthen and re-fashion itself on a pragmatic, rather than ideological or philosophical, level. In other words, I argue that the textbooks are primarily geared toward legit-imatizing Korea’s rule itself rather than developing nationalism or capital-ism as systematic objectives of its rule. By 1895, the Kojong government faced a legitimization crisis due to the problems they encountered with various foreign powers since the signing of its first international treaty in 1876. Beleaguered by social unrest (as manifested through the Tonghak Uprising), assassination attempts and successes on government officials and the monarchy, multiple shifts in power between the Taewǒn’gun, Queen Min and her supporters, and Kojong, not to mention a full-fledged war being waged on Korean soil, it was necessary for the government to defend its legitimacy to rule. Rather than concentrate on the government’s concerted efforts in the construction of Korean nationalism, this article instead suggests that a lateral reading of the first official modern text-books reveals a symptomatic expression of anxiety by the government, attempting to cast the existing state in a reinvigorated light while defend-ing its program of reform. In 1894, in the midst of the Sino-Japanese War and due to the demonstrated weakness of the government and its ruling authority, there was an acute need for the discomfited and self-conscious Chosǒngovernment to (re-) establish its right to rule and to justify its actions since 1876. The official textbooks supplied this badly needed le-gitimacy and explanations of recent actions of the Chosǒn government.
Every sector is reforming to meet the changing demands of the global economy. Except one. Education remains a predominantly public service. This is fine except that it means that this is also mainly publicly-provided, publicly-financed, and regulated. No public service agency is expected to do as much as we expect of education. How are education systems around the world faring?
In most countries, education systems are not providing workers with the skills necessary to compete in today’s job markets. Korea is an exception, having started its reform program long ago and raised student outcomes significantly. Korea is praised for building a solid foundation in the early years and using the private sector judiciously to expand access and develop relevant skills. The Education Commission – which includes heads of state, government ministers, Nobel laureates, and leaders in the field of education – praises the East Asian nation and urges other countries to follow the “progressive universalism” path exemplified by Korea.
As the recent release of international student test data (TIMSS and PISA) show, there is an urgent need for education system improvements in most countries. This obvious in low performing countries, as well as in middle income countries trying to catch up. But it is also true for high performers because the nature of the economy is changing, and with it so too are the demands for skills propelled by what the World Economic Forum has coined as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Not only are education outcomes poor in many countries, but the gaps are high and increasing. This is now being reflected in increasing returns to schooling and rising income inequality. Education systems are simply not performing as needed; not as economies demand, and not as parents desire. Even in high-performing countries, the level of dissatisfaction is high.
It’s important to celebrate and recognize the success of counties that have made significant advances. Here are five:
- Poland: A reform started in 1999 led to significant results. By 2012, the OECD ranked Polish teachers among the best in world. Part of the reform was a restructuring of the education system which postponed early tracking in the system. Research shows that these changes led to a significant increase in scores propelling Poland to the top of the rankings in PISA.
- Vietnam: PISA results in 2012 and 2015 shocked the world. A low income country surpassed most OECD countries. Assessments and evaluations confirm that Vietnam’s primary schools are very productive: “Vietnamese students learned a similar amount per year at the simplest tasks (e.g., addition and subtraction) but much more in terms of applying these to more complex tasks (e.g., multiplication, division and applied problems)” compared to other countries (read more about it in this blog post). In other words, Vietnamese schools are more productive at imparting learning. This is also evidenced in the application of Escuela Nueva, an innovative education model from Colombia, in Vietnamese classrooms.