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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2012): Education - overseas

A contemporary review of the definition, prevalence, identification and support of learning disabilities in Australian schools

J. L. Skues and E. G. Cunningham

Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, vol. 16, 2011, p. 159-180

Learning disabilities (LDs) are associated with underachievement in one or more areas such as reading, spelling, writing and/or mathematics. In general, it is assumed that LDs are neurological in origin, permanent in nature and resistant to intervention. Moreover, LDs are not considered the result of intellectual, physical or sensory disabilities, emotional disturbance, cultural or economic disadvantage or inappropriate teaching. The purpose of this review was to provide school communities including principals, classroom teachers, other professionals, parents and students with a contemporary review of the definition, prevalence, identification and support of LDs. In particular, this review highlights the confusion surrounding the definition of LDs and how this has impacted on estimates of their prevalence, as well as current identification methods used in Australian schools. The various methods used to support students with LDs in schools are discussed.

Democratizing Indonesia through education? Community participation in Islamic schooling

L. Parker and R. Raihani

Educational Management, Administration and Leadership, vol. 39, 2011, p. 712-732

In 1998, Indonesia embarked on a journey to democracy. This journey involved the decentralization of education from 2002. The new school-based management (SBM) system required greater community and parental participation in schools - thereby, it was hoped, contributing to a deepening of democracy. Islamic schools (madrasah) also adopted this policy reform. Here we present the findings of our research into community participation in madrasah in Indonesia. One of our principle findings, and concerns, is the low level of parental and community participation in madrasah governance. Parents feel they have no place in school governance or in teaching and learning. There is a concentration of power in the hands of principals, teachers and school founders (of private madrasah). In general, participation by teachers in madrasah governance is increasing. Also, there are examples of excellent madrasah, where the principals devolve power and responsibility to other teachers, cooperate with parents and community leaders, model exemplary behaviour and institutionalize a clear vision. The decentralization of education in Indonesia has not uniformly empowered citizens to become more involved in Islamic schools. The question remains how to extend practices at excellent madrasah to effectively articulate community enthusiasm for Islamic schooling and school governance nationwide.

The gender mix policy - addressing gender inequality in higher education management

H. Peterson

Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, vol. 33, 2011, p. 619-628

Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data, this article highlights the increase in the proportion of women in senior academic management positions in Swedish higher education between 1990 and 2010. It uncovers some of the factors that account for women's successful entrance into these positions. According to 22 interviewed female senior academic managers, the implementation of a gender mix policy is key to explaining the decrease in male domination. However, the women also expressed some concerns about the consequences of how the gender mix policy was applied. The article takes these concerns as a point of departure for a critical evaluation of how successful the policy is in promoting gender equality on a structural level.

Government policy and research higher degree education

M. Kiley

Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, vol. 33, 2011, p. 629-640

Just over a decade ago, the Australian Government introduced funding mechanisms which aimed at reducing doctoral candidates' attrition rate and completion times, and increasing reported student satisfaction. This study looks for any evidence of the impact of the introduction of these mechanisms on Australian universities' research education programmes.

Policy dynamism: the case of Aboriginal Australian education

T. Moore

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 41, 2012, p. 141-159

Australia's leading Aboriginal intellectual, Noel Pearson, has argued that prescriptive identity politics led Cape York Aborigines to conform to stereotypes and dress up anti-intellectualism and apathy as Aboriginal culture, and so create an impediment to their own education. This paper uses the author's doctoral research to explain the counter-productive behaviours to which Pearson refers as partly the outcome of the progressive policy frameworks that have dominated Aboriginal education for the past thirty-odd years, in which the performance of the many actors involved (policy makers, deliverers and recipients) are integral. The perspective reveals some of the socio-cultural and political forces generated by a particular policy framework that has driven the performance of contrary difference and become counter-productive for Aborigines, as they, the objects of policy, comply with the subject they are imagined to be in policy.

Principals and the politics of resistance to change

K. Starr

Educational Management, Administration and Leadership, vol. 39, 2011, p. 646-660

Governments hold principals accountable for leading and managing significant change for school improvement, primarily demonstrated through enhanced student test results. Research evidence suggests, however, that schools are slow to change, that many individuals are resistant to major change and that school reforms are often cursory or short lived. The stakes for principals to produce measurable improvements are rising, as are disincentives for failure. This article discusses the experiences of Australian principals overseeing major change in the context of rapid structural and policy reform. It focuses specifically on the micro-politics of resistance, through an exploration of principals' experiences and perceptions of introducing major change.

Vocational and higher education in Australia: a need for closer collaboration

S. Bandias, D. Fuller and D. Pfitzner

Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, vol. 33, 2011, p. 583-594

An important way to improve access for groups that are under-represented in tertiary education is to facilitate the movement of students from vocational education and training to higher education institutions. However, there is substantial evidence of rigidities and obstacles to such a closer integration between these two sectors. This paper discusses the problems experienced by students currently moving from vocational education and training to higher education institutions, identifies impediments to collaborative pathways and suggests measures for overcoming such obstacles.

Women and higher education leadership in Kenya: a critical analysis

G. Odhiambo

Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, vol. 33, 2011, p. 667-678

This paper undertakes a critique of the gendered nature of leadership in modern universities in Kenya. The paper argues that the inclusive nature of African feminism makes it easier for both men and women to join in this discussion since African feminism demands a more holistic perspective that does not pit men against women but encourages them to work together to address gender inequalities. The review shows that there is a need to develop policies and strategies both at national and local level geared towards increasing women's participation in decision making and leadership in higher education in Kenya. The paper provides an opportunity for reflection on problems related to the participation of academic women in leadership in higher education in Kenya and comparable systems

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