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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2006): Education - Overseas

Adult learning in the digital age: information technology and the learning society

N. Selwyn, S. Gorard and J. Furlong

London: Routledge, 2006

Learning with technology is seen by many countries as a way of improving their collective human 'capital', and of offering opportunities to those currently excluded from mainstream education. The book describes the different ways in which adults interact with information and communications technologies (ICTs) for learning at home, work and in the wider community. It debates:

  1. Why ICTs are believed capable of effecting positive change in adult learning?
  2. The drawbacks and limits of ICT in adult education
  3. How people can be made into lifelong learners
  4. The wider social, economic, cultural and political realities of the information age and the learning society.

Miners, diggers, ferals and show-men: school-community projects that affirm and unsettle identities and place?

P. Thomson

British Journal of Sociology of Education, vol.27, 2006, p..81-96

Some national governments are concerned at the growth of deeply divided neighbourhoods in which all sense of community cohesion has been lost. The Australian State of Tasmania is characterised by deep divisions within its towns and communities. Article presents case studies of how four schools attempted to strengthen ties with their local communities and heal divisions. Author argues that by working with a 'place-based' curriculum to assist young people in building local networks and engaging productively with their local neighbourhoods, schools might provide important resources for identity-building and learning.

The next global cause: free education for all

Gordon Brown

Independent, January 4th 2006, p. 29

Free primary education globally is the most cost effective investment possible. The Chancellor argues that we cannot afford not to do it.

Policy and power in inclusive education: values into practice

J. Rix and others (editors)

London: RoutledgeFalmer, 2005

The book illustrates how principles of inclusive education are being translated into educational practices around the world. It adopts a critical perspective on policy issues and makes explicit the assumptions that drive policy development.

Social dialogue and vocational training in Europe: are we witnessing the emergence of a European model?

J. Winterton

Journal of European Industrial Training, vol.30, 2006, p.65-76

A survey of European Union member states before enlargement and two EFTA countries shows that the social partners (employers and trade unions) have a formal role in developing vocational training policy throughout Europe and are also involved in implementation, particularly at sector and local levels. Social partner involvement is extensive irrespective of the prevailing socio-economic model and regulatory framework.

Transformation tensions in higher education: equity, efficiency and development

N. Cloete and T. Moja

Social Research, vol.72, 2005, p.693-722

This review aims to show that a combination of high-level social and economic processes and historical legacies from the Apartheid era have led to the emergence of a number of tensions in the reform of higher education in South Africa. One of the main aims of the new government was to open up higher education to more black students. However, if those students were registered en masse on cheap courses, they would not be gaining the scientific and technical skills needed for the economic development of the country. The emergence of the new phenomenon of graduate unemployment, despite skills shortages, suggests that universities are not equipping students with the high-level skills and knowledge needed by employers. The government was also faced with the problem of directing resources away from historically well-endowed institutions catering mainly for white students and investing more those providing opportunities for young black people. This has been addressed through a series of institutional mergers, and through the imposition of a new funding and enrolment planning framework. The government argues that, as resources are not infinite, the number of students admitted to higher education must be capped, and throughput increased by reducing student dropout rates. However, limiting places in this way also makes it more difficult to eradicate the disadvantages faced by young black people when they compete with white applicants from wealthy backgrounds.

Universities and the Europe of knowledge: ideas, institutions and policy entrepreneurship in European Union higher education policy, 1955-2005

A. Corbett

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005

The book explores the dynamics of two major European initiatives: the Bologna process, to set common European standards for higher education, and the EU’s own strategy to exploit the knowledge economy more effectively. It also aims to provide a better understanding of earlier European initiatives from the European University (1955) to the Erasmus programme (1987) and to show why, and to what extent, the Bologna process builds on earlier developments.

The worldwide expansion of higher education in the twentieth century

E. Schofer and J.W. Meyer

American Sociological Review, vol.70, 2005, p.898-920

This cross-national analysis of enrolments in higher education shows effects consistent with several standard theories. Higher education expands fastest in countries with extensive secondary education systems, as predicted by functional, conflict/competition and neo-institutional theories. Enrolments also expand faster in countries with strong links to the international system or world polity, consistent with neo-institutional theory. Educational expansion is slowed in countries that are ethnically or linguistically diverse, and in countries where the system is under central government control. There has been a massive expansion in higher education worldwide since the 1960s. This change is linked to the rise of a new model of society involving increased democratisation and emphasis on human rights, scientisation and the advent of development planning. In this new society, educated people are seen as appropriate for a wide variety of social positions and education is seen as a form of human capital opening the door to unlimited progress.

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