Center on International Education Benchmarking

1. Ontario to Revise Career Studies Course

Studies course.  The course is a requirement for high school graduation. The revision includes the addition of content on financial literacy, introduction to careers in “high-growth” industries, responsible use of social media and more emphasis on “cross curricula transferable skills.” Lecce, who replaced Lisa Thompson as minister in a major cabinet reshuffle announced last month, said: “We are better aligning our curriculum with the labour market, to ensure our young people can optimize their skills and get access to good-paying jobs.” The Ministry is also working on better integrating the cross-curricula skills in the Career Studies course into all other subjects in the province’s curriculum.

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce

2. Switzerland Faces Teacher Shortage

Stefan Wolter, Professor at the University of Bern
Stefan Wolter, Professor at the University of Bern

A surge in the number of school-age children and a shortfall of teacher candidates has resulted in a significant teacher shortage in Switzerland. The country needs 10,000 teachers to make up the gap, including 7,000 at the primary level and 3,000 at the secondary level. However, only 5,000 new teachers graduate each year, according to Stefan Wolter, a professor in the economics of education at the University of Bern. A survey of principals confirmed the shortfall, with 39 percent of primary school heads indicating they had difficulty filling jobs in their schools. One reason for the shortfall is the large number of part-time teachers in Switzerland. About 70 percent of teachers work part-time, for an average of three days a week, compared with 22 percent in the United Kingdom and 38 percent in Germany. More information is available here.

3. New Zealand Principals Vote to Boycott Work With Education Ministry

Primary and intermediate school principals in New Zealand have voted to hold a six-week boycott of all of their work with the Ministry of Education. The decision comes just days after hundreds of principals delivered letters to ministry offices calling for better pay. Under the boycott, New Zealand Education Institute (NZEI) Te Riu Roa members will stop communication with the ministry and halt participation in ministry-led work groups, taskforces and meetings until mid-August. In speaking about their disappointment with the ministry, NZEI President Lynda Stuart said: “The latest (contract) offer would have seen some principals in our smaller schools paid less than some teachers in larger schools. This would have a real impact on retaining and recruiting principals in rural areas and small schools. Principals of our small and rural schools need to be valued – they deserve that and so do children.” Read more here.

NZEI President Lynda Stuart
NZEI President Lynda Stuart

4. Hong Kong Releases Initial Recommendations for Curriculum Review

HK student

Hong Kong’s Task Force on Review of School Curriculum, established in 2017 by Chief Executive Carrie Lam to review the curricula for primary and secondary schools, has released a public consultation document outlining its initial recommendations. Responding to concerns about testing pressure and academic workload, the Task Force has recommended reducing compulsory content on the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE), Hong Kong’s university admissions examination. Proposed strategies to do this include streamlining course content in some subjects and allowing students to opt-out of some examination components in other subjects. Additional Task Force recommendations include: promoting “whole-person development” by creating more space in the curriculum for a wide range of learning experiences; prioritizing values education; promoting Applied Learning courses, elective courses in professional and vocational subjects that are available in upper secondary schools; encouraging universities to increase flexibility in admissions criteria for students with non-academic skills; and strengthening STEM education. The Task Force will solicit public comments on its consultation document until mid-September and make final recommendations to the government by the end of the year. Read more from the South China Morning Post.

5. Singapore Announces New Coding Classes for Upper Primary Students

All upper primary students in Singapore will have coding classes starting in 2020, as part of the government’s effort to develop a pipeline of tech talent for the digital economy. A study published by Microsoft last year estimated that the digital economy would contribute another US$10 billion to Singapore’s GDP by 2021. The 10-hour enrichment program, Code for Fun, will be piloted at a set of schools before being rolled out to all primary schools by 2020. The class is designed to give students an appreciation of computational thinking and coding concepts through simple programming-based lessons. The program will continue at the secondary level as an option to complement existing computing education, which includes optional computing subjects.. Read more in The Straits Times.


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