More than 20,000 parents participated in a simultaneous parent-teacher conference in Finland on Wednesday. It included talks with teachers, remarks from senior officials, and interactive lectures about new learning methodologies and the changing role of the school system. The goal was to keep all Finnish parents be more informed and engaged in discussions about the goals of schooling in the 21st century and how modes of learning have to change in order for students to keep up. The Ministry of Education, the Trade Union of Education, the Finnish Parents’ League, and the Finland Board of Education all collaborated on the massive effort. Read more here.
With students set to return in less than two weeks, schools in New Zealand are desperately searching to fill hundreds of teaching positions. A lack of a qualified teaching pool has some schools even looking as far away as England for teachers to fill vacancies. Shortages are especially acute in areas of math and science. Read more in the New Zealand Herald.
An article in HRM Asia addresses why Singapore placed second (the only Asian country in the top ten) in the 2017 Global Talent Competitiveness Index which measures a country’s ability to grow, attract and retain talent. In addition to the government launching numerous innovation policies to help transform the economy, Singapore stands out for its continued focus on skills upgrading. Policies highlighted include the “Adapt and Grow” initiative that helps workers adapt to changing job demands and a new TechSkills Accelerator initiative to give workers IT skills needed in growing sectors such as finance and healthcare. In 2016, 126,000 Singaporeans learned new skills as a result of the S$500 (US$350) credit provided by the SkillsFuture program, the country’s largest skills development initiative.
Ontario is negotiating with the province’s universities to link provincial funding to graduation and employment outcomes. Universities currently receive approximately CAN $12,000 (US$9,000) per student in a master’s level program and up to more than double that for students in doctoral programs. The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development will begin talks to define how and where it provides these grants, responding to calls to focus its investments on programs that promise students marketable skills. Ontario is following the lead of other provinces, like British Columbia, which recently linked one-quarter of its investments in post-secondary education to fields that are in demand by employers. Brenda Brouwer, vice-provost and dean of graduate studies at Queen’s University, agreed with the direction of provincial policy. “We have to be responsive to the kinds of jobs that are available,” she said. For more, see The Globe and Mail.
Some 151 undergraduate and graduate programs in Taiwanese universities have enrolled no students this year as a consequence of decades of declining birth rates, according to new figures released by the Ministry of Education. Even top universities such as National Taiwan University, National Cheng Kung University, National Chengchi University and National Chiao Tung University saw graduate programs enroll no students this fall. The ministry now oversees the operation of 10 institutions due to low enrollment and has the authority to intervene in the operations of more if they experience continued low enrollment or financial instability. According to officials, a new fund will be established this year to assist institutions facing enrollment challenges. Read more at China Post.