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Welfare Reform on the Web (September 2007): Education - overseas

Inclusive education in South Africa in the era of AIDS: every voice counts

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 11, 2007, p. 383-533

This themed issue looks at the impact of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) on delivering education to all learners in South Africa. The featured articles address a range of issues linked to inclusive education and HIV and AIDS (e.g. stigma and discrimination, illness and disability as barriers to learning and development) and draw attention both to challenges and innovative solutions in mapping out the terrain of working with the special and diverse needs of children in the era of AIDS. Although the papers make clear that there is no single answer and that the solutions (plural) must be located within the assets and resources of communities themselves, the authors, many of whom are working in schools and tertiary institutions in South Africa, offer hope for an 'every voice counts' global response to the pandemic. As a collection, these papers highlight an urgent need for action or what Stephen Lewis, the former UN Envoy on HIV and AIDS, describes as a 'race against time' (Lewis, 2005).

Beyond the charter schoolhouse door: teacher-perceived autonomy

M. A. Gawlik

Education and Urban Society, vol. 39, 2007, p. 524-553

This article presents a study that explores the relationship between charter schools and teacher autonomy. The theoretical framework is based on the charter school concept, whereby three policy levers choice, deregulation and accountability lead to various goals for the charter school. One of the first and foremost of these is the enhancement of professional autonomy and opportunities for teachers. The assumption is that teachers who select the schools they want to work at will be more willing to invest their time and energy and be more dedicated to the school. Although charter school legislation has provided significant autonomy for professionals in exchange for accountability, the school-based initiatives that have been under way suggest that the autonomy is not always present.

Does it work? The effect of continuing training on labour market outcomes: a comparative study of Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom

M. Dieckhoff

European Sociological Review, vol. 23, 2007, p. 295-308

This article seeks to examine the impact of continuing training for adult workers in Germany, Denmark and the UK. Drawing on data from the European Community Household Panel survey, it analyses:

  1. How far continuing training reduces the risk of future unemployment spells.
  2. If training increases the odds of re-entering the labour market given unemployment.
  3. Whether training fosters upward occupational mobility.

Results show that the impact of training varies across countries: while there were marked training effects in Germany and Denmark, training in the UK did not appear to have any significant effect on labour market outcome. It is argued that the effectiveness of the training provided is influenced by the different institutional setups in the three countries.

Education and state formation reappraised: Chinese school identity in postwar Singapore and Hong Kong

T.-H. Wong

International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol. 17, 2007, p. 63-78

After World War II the Singapore government sought to integrate the island's various ethnic communities. To this end it endeavoured to abolish Chinese schools, which it regarded as divisive since they transmitted distinctive Chinese culture. This policy met with strong resistance from Singapore's ethnic Chinese population and the government was forced to include Chinese schools in the education system. This reduced the tension between the government and the Chinese population, but allowed the Chinese schools to continue to create social division and slowed state formation. In contrast, although the government of Hong Kong never aimed to replace Chinese schools, many of its policies unintentionally Sinicized non-Chinese schools and blurred the cultural distinctiveness of Chinese institutions. This prevented Chinese schools from becoming catalysts of social division and helped consolidate state domination.

Education service delivery: the disastrous case of outcomes-based qualifications frameworks

S.M. Allais

Progress in Development Studies, vol. 7, 2007, p. 65-78

Outcomes-based qualifications and qualifications frameworks claim to be able to provide a basis for the measurement of the effectiveness of both private and public education provision. They claim to be able to do this by providing explicit, formal and measurable standards against which all education can be tested. These standards are captured in outcome statements which learners must be able to meet. South Africa provides a clear example of the problems with implementing outcomes-based qualifications frameworks. Ten years after the implementation of a comprehensive national outcomes-based qualifications framework by the African National Congress, the system is deadlocked in unresolved policy reviews and educational inequalities remain stark.

From unconscious to conscious inclusion: meeting special educational needs in West China

M. Deng and J.C. Holdsworth

Disability and Society, vol. 22, 2007, p. 507-522

The Gansu basic education project is supported by the Department for International Development and aims to increase school enrolment and retention in four poor counties so as to achieve universal basic education. As general enrolment in schools increased, so did that of pupils with special educational needs. This article maps out the route taken by the project Management Office to institute measures to ensure good learning opportunities for these children.

Multicultural tensions in England, France and Canada: contrasting approaches and consequences

D. Gereluk and R. Race

International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol.17, 2007, p. 113-129

This article considers three instances that exemplify the tensions apparent in the plural societies of France, Canada and England: 1) civil disturbances in England in October 2005; 2) race riots in France in November 2005; and 3) the Supreme Court of Canada's decision to allow Sikh children to wear the kirpan (ceremonial dagger) in schools. Using these case studies, the authors focus on three related issues. First, they compare and contrast how England, France and Canada have addressed the complexities of a plural society and how this may impact on education policy. Secondly, they consider whether multicultural education policies are reflective of the broader social issues. Finally, it is argued that unless there are consistent underpinning multicultural values inherent in society, it is difficult for schools to promote multiculturalism beyond a superficial level.

The new educational policy for the reform of the curriculum and the change of school knowledge in the case of Greek compulsory education

G. Koustourakis

International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol.17, 2007, p. 131-146

At the beginning of the 21st century a new curriculum was introduced into Greek schools. All textbooks were completely rewritten and computer-based learning was introduced to supplement printed educational materials. The reform of the curriculum was driven by the European Union Lisbon process, which aims to reform education to equip students with the skills to create a 'knowledge society' across all member states.

Putting teacher experience back into curriculum theory: case studies from Japan

M. Mitsuno

International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol. 17, 2007, p. 95-112

School management in Japan is currently being decentralised and a quasi-market model is being introduced. There is also concern over falling education standards. In this context a new national curriculum was introduced in 2002. The new curriculum is designed to teach pupils how to think independently, solve problems and engage with a lifelong learning agenda instead of learning by rote. It encourages more flexibility and less pressure on children in spite of current debates over falling academic standards. This article argues that curriculum reform has triggered a cultural change among teachers in Japan.

Reshaping the methodological identity of education research

M. A. Constas

Evaluation Review, vol. 31, 2007, p.391-400

This article assesses the impact that recent US federal policies have had on education research. Using published journal articles as a data source, the study examines reports on the frequency of use of terms representing federal priorities for education research (experimental, randomisation, hypothesis, and quantitative) compared to the frequency of use of terms representing methodologies that are granted a low priority within federal policy (ethnographic, narrative, post-modern, and qualitative). A comparison between the data for 2001 (pre-policy period) and 2005 (policy enactment period) shows increased use of all four terms representing non-experimental research is associated with decreased numbers of articles. Some of the ways in which the findings may be interpreted are discussed and additional analyses that may be conducted to help track the impact of federal policy on education research are described.

The role of parents in high-achieving schools serving low-income, at-risk populations

M. Ingram, R. B. Wolfe & J. Lieberman

Education and Urban Society, vol. 39, 2007, p. 479-497

This study investigates the critical elements of parent involvement as related to children's improved academic achievement. Survey data were collected from 220 parents whose children attend three Chicago elementary schools that serve largely minority, low-income populations and score in the top third of the Illinois State Achievement Tests. Using Epstein's framework of parent involvement, the authors found that participants indicated a stronger tendency to participate in two of Epstein's typologies: Type I (Parenting) and Type IV (Learning at Home). Results suggest that schools struggling with unsatisfactory student achievement may benefit from focusing parent involvement efforts on building parenting capacity and encouraging learning-at-home activities

School-police partnership effectiveness in urban schools: an analysis of New York City's Impact Schools Initiative

K. P. Brady, S. Balmer & D. Phenix

Education and Urban Society, vol. 39, 2007, p. 455-478

Despite nationwide decreases in school crime and violence, a relatively high and increasing number of students report feeling unsafe at school. In response, some school officials are implementing school-police partnerships in an effort to deter criminal activity and violence in schools. This article examines the initial effect of New York City's Impact Schools Initiative, a punitive-based school-police partnership developed in January 2004 that increases police presence at some of the city's most dangerous schools. An initial examination of school-level demographic and environmental variables reveals that, despite increased police presence, students enrolled at Impact Schools continue to experience higher than average problems linked directly to future criminality, including more student suspensions and lower attendance rates than other New York City Schools. The data also reveal that relative to other New York City schools, Impact Schools are more crowded and receive less funding.

'Scientifically-based research': the art of politics and the distortion of science

P. Shaker and C. Ruitenberg

International Journal of Research & Method in Education, vol. 3, 2007, p.207-220

The US Federal Government is forcefully prescribing a narrow definition of 'scientifically-based' educational research. US policy, emerging from contemporary neo-liberal and technocratic viewpoints and funded and propagated on a large scale, has the potential to influence international thinking on educational research. In this article the authors continue a policy critique that has emerged and address three problems associated with the US government's narrow definition of research: (1) the Government's claims about 'scientifically-based research' are, in themselves, philosophically problematic; (2) the emphasis on quantitative, experimental research is modelled in a questionable manner on techniques from the natural (and especially medical) sciences, and the emphasis on applicability and transferability of findings can be directly related to a predominance of economic principles and discourse; and (3) the research commissioned and used by the US Federal Government itself is inconsistent with the rhetoric of scientific criteria. The authors call for educational leaders and researchers to challenge the Governmental manipulation of science and the marginalisation of the education profession from policy-making in its own field.

The spread of targeted educational policies in Latin America: global thesis and local impacts

A. Tarabini-Castellani Clemente

International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol. 17, 2007, p. 21-43

This article attempts to analyse the current role of the education system in Latin America and to explore the repercussions of this new mandate for the design and development of education policy. Globally, investment in education has been promoted as a tool for eradicating poverty since the early 1990s. The local implementation of this global agenda in Latin America has led to the expansion of education programmes targeted on the poor. One of these local targeted education programmes, the Bolsa Escola in Brazil, is described in detail and its impacts assessed. The Bolsa Escola consists of a monthly income transfer to poor families on condition that their children attend school.

Universities in Europe: innovation and economic development

H.L. Smith

Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics, vol. 18, 2007, p. 239-264

This paper reviews issues concerning the relationship between universities in Europe and industry. It places the discussion in the context of the European Union's Lisbon Agenda of raising national expenditures on research and development to create the 'Europe of Knowledge' and the Bologna Agreement of 1999 on the European Higher Education Area. The EU aims to place universities at the heart of the drive towards enabling Europe to compete more strongly with the USA. To achieve this goal, the emphasis is on greater co-ordination of teaching and research across Europe, networking to overcome barriers to industry working with universities, improving career opportunities for scientists, and student mobility. Universities are also intended to be the major points of delivery of the production and dissemination of new knowledge. Examples from some EU15 countries are used to illustrate the problems Europe faces in developing an integrated strategy.

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