Center on International Education Benchmarking

1. Education Workers in Ontario Vote to Strike at Month’s End

Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) who work in Ontario’s schools voted overwhelmingly to strike at the end of the month if negotiations with the government on key issues do not progress. The workers are concerned about changes in the province’s schools implemented by the Progressive Conservatives under Premier Doug Ford. These include increases in class size, shifts towards online learning and a gradual reduction in the number of teachers. Education Minister Stephen Lecce said: “We continue to call on all parties to reach a deal as soon as possible to provide predictability and confidence to parents, students and educators alike.” For more, see CBC Canada.

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce

2. New Zealand Releases Education System ‘Blueprint’

New Zealand Education Minister Chris Hipkins
New Zealand Education Minister Chris Hipkins

Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced the release of a new report titled Shaping a Stronger Education System with New Zealanders that outlines five strategic objectives for the country’s education system and sets out draft priorities for the National Education and Learning and Priorities (NELP) and the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES). The report is based on input from 50,000 New Zealanders who participated in a feedback process that covered early childhood through tertiary education. The report’s strategic objectives include: putting learners and their families at the center of education; better access to education, quality teaching and leadership; future-focused learning priorities; and forming a trusted and sustainable public education system. The report also includes proposals for improved ratios for early childhood services, support for local curriculum design and the use of data to support learners in tertiary education. Hipkins referred to the report as a “30-year strategic approach for education.” Read more in Stuff.co.

3. Finland’s 2020 Budget Adds ECEC Slots, Education to 18, Workplace Training

The Finnish Government agreed on the policies of its 2020 budget proposal this week, allocating a total of €350 million (US$386.5 million) for education. The new funding priorities include an expanded focus on the equity of access and quality of early childhood education and care (ECEC) offerings: €125 million (US$138 million) in total will be invested in expanding free ECEC for five year olds and lowering class size for ECEC programs. In addition, an investment of €22 million (US$24.3 million) supports the extension of compulsory education from the age of 16 to 18, in order to give students more opportunities to learn skills that will be needed for work and life and decreasing the number of young people not in education or training. Other priorities include developing a digital platform to connect students with job opportunities and adding workplace instructors in vocational education programs. Read more about the new budget here.

Finnish hands flag

4. Estonian Unions Protest Freeze on Higher Ed, Research Funding

textbooks

Five academic trade unions are holding demonstrations in Tallinn and Tartu this week demanding the Estonian government increase funding for higher education and research. The unions, which represent researchers nationwide as well as teaching staff from three major universities, are presenting three requests to the government: increase research funding to 1 percent of GDP, fund higher education at 1.5 percent of GDP and ensure researchers a basic income at half the national average salary. Representatives from the unions say the government has not provided adequate funding for higher education and research. The protests come after the government released a national budget which failed to hold to the government’s previous promise to increase higher education spending to 1 percent of GDP. The unions want the fund increases in order to avoid cost saving measures currently being deliberated in universities, such as the reintroduction of paid higher education, a reduction in the amount of face-to-face teaching or requiring lecturers to take unpaid leave. Read more at ERR

5. Swiss Supreme Court Rejects Right to Homeschooling

Swiss parents do not have the right to educate their children at home, Switzerland’s highest court has ruled. As a result, cantons can restrict or ban homeschooling. The case was brought by a mother in the canton of Basel City whose request to educate her son at home was denied. She argued that this action violated her rights as a parent. But the court ruled that federal law guaranteed all children a “sufficient and free” elementary education, and that cantons had wide latitude in regulating education, including education at home. Currently, about 1,000 Swiss children are homeschooled, although the practice varies widely by canton. Some cantons require only a notice, while others require parents to hold teaching certificates. More information is available here.

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