A new report from the OECD shows how much attention countries around the world are paying to early childhood education and supports for young learners. Key OECD Indicators on Early Childhood Education and Care compiles a voluminous dataset from 24 participating nations. It shows that access to early childhood education services is expanding across countries, with almost all countries offering services to over 90 percent of 5-year-olds. Countries that are expanding early childcare are increasingly unifying governance for early childhood under a single governance agency and developing unified standards and curricula in the process. Nevertheless, funding for early childhood education and care is far more diversified than any other area of education, with local dollars making up over 80 percent of funding in most countries. Although countries are moving toward requiring a bachelor’s degree for early childhood teachers, the duration and design of teacher training varies widely, and early childhood teachers remain underpaid everywhere compared to other workers with similar education levels.
Image Source: OECD
In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Vocational Training Council chairman Dr. Clement Chen Cheng-jen urged Hong Kong companies to take on more students as apprentices as a key strategy to expand vocational training in the municipality. He said that currently only large companies were willing to take on apprentices, while small or medium-sized companies—which make up 98 percent of firms in Hong Kong—have little incentive to do so. He argued that Hong Kong coud learn from the Swiss model where more than two-thirds of 16-year-olds choose vocational training pathways in secondary school . Chen also praised an ongoing pilot scheme called Earn and Learn offered by the Hong Kong Vocational Training Council with support from the government and various firms. Students in this pilot program continue their studies while working a few days a week and earning about HK$8,000 to HK$9,000 (US$1,025 to US$1,153) a month and pocketing a subsidy of HK$2,000 (US$256). The program offers 4,000 places annually and they had been filled every year since its launch in 2014. Chen urged the government to expand the program. Read more at South China Morning Post. For more on the Swiss model of vocational education, see CIEB’s Gold Standard: The Swiss Vocational Education and Training System.
Image: Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training director general Cornelia Oertle (left) and Vocational Training Council chairman Clement Chen
Source: South China Morning Post
New Zealand’s Education Council has recommended training new teachers to teach across broader grade spans than is currently done. This might mean training teachers to teach students ages 0-8 or for 4th to 8th grade, for example, rather than training pre-school teachers, primary teachers and middle school teachers. The goal would be to help “smooth the transitions between school levels” for students by ensuring that teachers were experienced with the curriculum and demands for the next level of education for their students. Difficulty transitioning between levels of education has been shown, the Education Council reported, to be a predictor of higher dropout levels for students. In addition, the proposed change in teacher training would broaden the career possibilities for individual teachers by allowing them to teach or lead teachers at a broader range of levels. Teacher union leaders expressed concern that adding requirements to teacher education might exacerbate the current shortage of teachers. The previous administration, led by Education Minister Hekia Parata, sought to address the same issue of difficulty for some students in transitioning to the next education level by creating “campus” style schools, which co-located preschool, primary and secondary schools. For more, see The New Zealand Herald.
Education Week highlights findings from a recent report from American Councils for International Education that found that only one out of every five K-12 students in the United States is studying a world language or American Sign Language. The vast majority study Spanish (69 percent), followed by French (12 percent), German (3 percent) and Chinese (2 percent). The study compared enrollment in U.S. states, finding that New Jersey enrolled more than half of its students in world language courses, whereas Arkansas enrolled fewer than 10 percent. Only 11 states require foreign language study to graduate from high school. In comparison, according to Eurostat, for several decades, it has been mandatory for most European children to learn at least one foreign language during their compulsory education and some 94 percent of all European Union upper secondary students studied English as a foreign language in 2014.