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Headlines for November 26 – December 3

Finland Addresses Media Literacy and Early Reading Gaps in New Strategy

Finland has unveiled a new media literacy and early reading strategy. While the overall literacy skills in Finland are high, gaps persist between high- and low-income students, students with and without college-educated parents, and native students and those who speak Finnish as a second language. The strategy, in the works since the 2018 PISA results came out and unveiled this month, aims to tackle several problems: disparities in reading ability at all levels among different student groups, evidence that young Finns from all backgrounds are struggling to demonstrate multimedia literacy and particular problems with early literacy in young learners. The strategy will invest more resources in Finnish language acquisition, early literacy programs, remediation, hiring additional librarians, and professional learning and support for teachers and literacy support staff. Read more at YLE.


England to Fast Track Inspection of All Schools and Colleges


After two years of pandemic-related school disruptions, England’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) has been asked by the government to fast track inspections of all schools by summer 2025, cutting a full year off the usual timeline for inspections. Ofsted will receive an extra £24 million (US$32 million) to ensure that all of England’s 24,000 schools and 335 further-education providers will receive full, graded inspections in the shorter timeframe. The government hopes this will give parents, students, teachers, and schools more up-to-date information about the effects of the pandemic on student learning. But teacher unions and education experts say that the inspections will only add stress to teachers and leaders already feeling overworked, and that the funding would be better spent on catch-up recovery and support programs. Read more at BBC


Children Will Be Represented by Standalone Agency in Japanese Government

Youth and children’s policies will be aligned within a single government agency under a plan from Japan’s government. The new children’s agency coordinates roles currently spread across the health and education ministries, as well as others and streamline how the government responds to issues. Making children a cabinet-level focus of the government comes as Japan experienced its lowest ever birthrate—already falling for years—in 2020. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration has pushed the agency’s creation—proposed by his predecessor’s government—back a year, to 2023. Read more at The Japan Times.

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

Taiwan to Purchase Tablets for All Students

Taiwan's Education Minister Pan Wen-chung
Taiwan's Education Minister Pan Wen-chung

Taiwan’s Ministry of Education will spend NT$20 billion (US$72 million) to improve digital learning, with the majority of funding to go towards purchasing tablets for all primary and secondary students by 2025. Part of the funding will also go to ensuring internet access in all classrooms and developing new digital content. Students and classrooms in rural areas will be prioritized for tablets and internet, as part of an effort to close the gap in digital access between urban and rural areas. Education Minister Pan Wen-chung said that the pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital learning, which will enable students to learn at their own pace. Read more at Focus Taiwan.