Center on International Education Benchmarking

1. Alberta Unveils New School Funding Formula

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange unveiled the province’s new education funding model.  Under the new plan, schools will receive per capita school funding based on a three-year average enrollment, and each district is promised increased operational funding. LaGrange explained that the increased funding will come from savings from “reducing red tape,” such as annual assessments for students with disabilities, but the details were not yet available. Basing the new funding arrangement on three-year averages will, La Grange acknowledged, favor districts with decreasing school populations. Districts with rapidly increasing student populations, such as large urban areas, will be disadvantaged, Trisha Estabrooks, chair of Edmonton Public Schools, argued.  For more, see CBC Canada.

Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange
Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange

2. Singapore’s 2020 Budget Prioritizes Preschool

Singapore’s Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat

The Singapore government announced this week that it intends to allocate more than S$2 billion ($US1.43 billion) per year on the early childhood sector, up from S$1 billion (US$710 million) spent in 2018. Starting in January of this year, the Ministry of Social and Family Development began providing higher preschool subsidies and expanded eligibility for those subsidies to more than 60 percent of households in Singapore. The 2020 budget commits to increasing government-supported preschool places to 80 percent by 2025, up from just over 50 percent currently. “Good education provides a strong foundation for children to grow, realize their aspirations, and continue a journey of lifelong learning,” said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat. Read more at The Straits Times and Channel News Asia.

3. Finland’s Promising Adult Education System Failing to Reach Those Who Need It

Finland benefits from one of the most developed adult learning systems in the world, but training opportunities are not reaching those most in need, according to a new report from the OECD released this week. Currently, adults have access to many financial incentives to access training programs at technical colleges, workplaces or online. But according to the OECD, offerings could be better aligned to labor market needs. Further, the average participant in a training program is an already-well-trained middle class woman employed by a large firm. Few participants are low-income or underemployed. The OECD recommends diversifying training offerings, improving outreach to the underemployed, more rapidly systematizing anticipation of future labor market needs, and reducing the emphasis on degrees to certify mastery, as these serve as a barrier to entry for low-income learners who need to get back to work quickly. The government has already announced an upcoming reform of adult education which may tackle some of these recommendations. Read more in YLE’s analysis of the report.

CTE Student

4. The Cost of Early Learning in Australia

Preschooler

A report from the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University finds average income parents in Australia are spending more on early childhood education and care (ECEC) than they would sending their child to private schools, despite increased government funding. The report, Australian Investment in Education: Early Childhood Education and Care, found a family of two adults working full-time with an average combined income of AUS$170,000 (US$113,4330) last year paid AUS$5,949 (US$3,969) for one year of full-day early learning. The average for sending a child to an independent primary school is AUS$5,782 (US$3,858). While the government has increased funding for ECEC over the last 10 years, it still remains far less than the per-student expenditure on primary schooling. Estimates indicate Australian families spend between $3.8 billion (US$2.54 billion) and $6.8 billion (US$4.54 billion) a year on ECEC. Read more in The Sydney Morning Herald.

5. Thousands of University Workers Strike for Pay, Working Conditions in the UK

University workers across the UK, including academic and support staff, went on strike Thursday over pay, pensions and working conditions. The strike is the third time university staff in the UK have gone on strike in the past three years, including a walk-out last December. The University and College Union (UCU), which represents these workers, is calling on university managers to address what they see as excessive workload, low pay, a 15 percent gender pay gap and changes to pensions. The Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA), which represents universities and colleges in these negotiations, claims that the demand for a pay increase of more than 5 percent is unaffordable, with several universities reporting deficits in their latest accounts. Up to 50,000 lecturers, technicians, librarians and other academic and support staff at 74 universities are expected to take part in a total of 14 days of strike action, staggered through February and March, which will potentially affect around 1.2 million students. Read more in The Guardian

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