The International Education Day celebrates the role of education for peace, recognizing its importance for achieving sustainable development and highlighting the need to take measures to ensure an inclusive education, equitable and quality.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, indicates in the message she has issued on this occasion that the fundamental principles are the following:
- Education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility.
- Education is the most powerful force we have to guarantee significant improvements in the areas of health and economy and create resilient and sustainable societies.
- Education must receive worldwide attention and collective action.
Spanish results questioned
The results of the Spanish education system are being questioned by the relative place that Spain occupies in the international PISA assessments . Although there have been advances in the rankings that are generated from these evaluations, Spain’s position in relation to developed countries in its environment is clearly improved.
In the most recent report of 2018, our country does not exceed the OECD average neither in Mathematics nor in Science, both half points having dropped ten points since the 2015 evaluation and reaching the lowest level in Science since the PISA report exists . More worrying, perhaps, is that the results of the Reading test were invalidated because the students ‘responses in the reading fluency part did not seem to reflect the students’ real ability.
We are facing a critical situation to which we must respond promptly. One way to improve these results, already found in the most successful educational systems, is to give the necessary attention to the ability of teachers, as mentioned by the creator of the PISA report, Andreas Schleicher.
Government Education Program
Paying more attention to teachers and the teaching career is one of the proposals of the new government program in education, along with several others, to highlight the following:
- Inclusion: promotes coeducation and bullying prevention .
- Elimination of school segregation: promotes the prevention of school failure and dropout and education from 0 to 3 years.
- Transversality and interdisciplinarity: highlights the development of soft skills , affective-sexual education and professional training.
- Digitalization in education: proposes to improve digital talent, following the framework established by the UN in its 2030 goals for education .
- University: launches the Pact for the university, links higher artistic education to university education and promotes the scientific park.
The two essential proposals
Beyond those issues that can be politicized, from a purely educational and evidence-based point of view – which should be the starting point of any educational reform – there are two essential proposals: improvements in teacher training and universal access to education from 0 to 3 years.
- Improvements in teacher training. The importance of teachers in the quality of the education system has been ratified in numerous international studies, leading global organizations such as the OECD to place teachers and educational leaders at the center of educational reforms .
Finland’s results in the PISA tests over time indicate that it is one of the countries whose educational system is one of the most effective. On the one hand, at the social level, the country has resources and has designed a social services system that establishes a very positive context for learning and teaching.
In addition, Finland has made various bets in a big way, among them it has focused on selecting talented teachers and management teams , training them very well and giving them autonomy, as well as a professional prestige with very competitive salaries and the recognition of their authority as experts.
More importantly, the Finnish system is based on trust in the teacher, the management, the educational centers and other agents of the system and gives them the time and tools necessary to develop a quality education system.
- Education 0-3 years. Learning occurs at all stages of life. Neuroscientists have disputed that some skills can only be learned in early childhood, such as “neuromites” who argue that speaking a language or developing musical talents can only be achieved if acquired from a young age.
On the other hand, there are numerous investigations that show that there are certain functions, such as those related to visual and auditory stimuli, which must be developed within a period of early childhood development . Documentaries such as The Beginning of Life or Brain Matters have allowed a wide audience to understand in a very direct and intuitive way the enormous relevance of this period of development in education.
Although the importance of early childhood education has been recognized in numerous studies in many countries, including ours, it remains a pending subject.
What happens with the reading?
The program does not give the importance it requires to an aspect that is not very fashionable compared to technology, robotics or science, but which is absolutely crucial: reading.
Language is the means by which learning takes place: if students do not have a good reading ability, they cannot expand their knowledge and experiences. Reading activates many interrelated processes and their quality is measured taking into account several factors, as well as the relationship between them.
One of those factors is reading fluency or how quickly it is read (words per minute). Although this indicator, at first glance, may seem insignificant, reading fluency is one of the most relevant aspects for reading comprehension, especially texts with high academic and technical content.
The lack of attention to this aspect at the level of teacher training, the absence of classroom libraries and centers, the absence of the figure of the librarian and appropriate evaluation methods and whose results the teacher can access quickly, is worrying.
The consequences of these shortcomings are remarkable. Do you remember what happened with the results of the PISA 2018 report? The Spanish students did not seem to even know how to respond to the tests of reading fluency. Reading should be the axis of the educational system, and not only non-fiction reading, but also fiction, because the benefits of this reading go far beyond academics.
What are the challenges
The challenge of the government and the country is transcendental, so we must seek a climate of cooperation that will help us focus on what is best for students.
Essential in this process is that the agents involved not only have a voice, but also a vote: students, parents, teachers, teachers and other educators. Their opinions have to be heard and taken care of through the ordinary media (school boards, meetings, agreements with educational groups, etc.), but it would also be desirable to have objective data collected systematically, through surveys, interviews or groups. of focus.
Author Bio: Eva Ponte is Professor of the Department of Education and Academic Coordinator of Practicum Master’s Degree in Teacher Training at Nebrija University