Tag Archive: education


Results of a Gallup/Microsoft Partners in Learning/Pearson Foundation study reveal that young people in the U.S. who learn and develop 21st century skills in their last year of school are more likely to report having higher work quality later in life.

In the study, “21st century skills” were measured via an index of seven specific areas: real-world problem-solving, global awareness, technology used in learning, collaboration, knowledge construction, skilled communication, and self-regulation. Participants who reported having an education strong in these areas also often reported excellent work quality (success relative to most Americans of their age, success in their current job, having a voice in decision-making and being a valued member of their workplace). Of the seven areas, real-world problem-solving has the strongest link to higher work quality.

The study also reveals the influence inequality in education has on future success. Respondents with postgraduate work or a degree (37%) were more likely to report having an education strong in 21st century skill development than college students and graduates (27%) and participants with a high school degree or less (22%). Students of a higher income are more likely to attend schools with the funding to support a comprehensive technological education and problem-based learning program and thus are more prepared for the workforce than students that are less economically fortunate.

What these results tell us is simple but critical for students’ future success. In order to truly prepare students for the workforce, we must provide them with an education that focuses on real-world problem solving. While a traditional education is valuable, students must also gain exposure and experience with following through on long-term projects, applying their knowledge to real-world problems, and using modern technology similar to how they will in future employment. Only in this way will they fully prepare themselves for what lies ahead, making themselves confident and knowledgeable employees for hire in a dog-eat-dog world. A technologically- and problem-based education utilizing programs such as eKWIP is incredibly important in raising our future leaders and workers, and we should look to integrate programs like this in all schools, regardless of area or income level, to promote equality and success for all students.

-Ashley Marquardt

References:
Busteed, Brandon. “What Works in Schools Is Real Work.” The Gallup Blog. Gallup, 30 May 2013. Web. 31 May 2013.
Levy, Jenna, and Preety Sidhu. “In the U.S., 21st Century Skills Linked to Work Success.”Gallup Wellbeing. Gallup, 20 May 2013. Web. 31 May 2013.

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With so many recent books and articles documenting the rapid and unyielding rise in female educational attainment in the U.S., and the simultaneous fall in male education (The End of Men and the Rise of Women by Hanna Rosin being the most prominent example), it is easy to forget about gaps in educational access and attainment in the developing world.

While educational equality in the U.S. and other western nations is sometimes an illusion since societal discrimination steers women to lower-paying and less prestigious careers, the inflammatory  wage differential pales in comparison to the issues that face girls and women in many areas of the developing world. Gender equality should be a goal in every aspect of development and public policy, but educational equity is doubly important because it is successful women more than gender legislation that is effective in changing social norms and perceptions. If women continue to be subjugated in the educational system, they will continue to be subjugated in their professional and personal lives as well, because for better or worse the economic value of women is tied to how valued they are as a member of their community and family.

Despite its centrality to success later in life, being a woman is a distinct disadvantage in the developing world. Although gender equity in education is a development goal that has been in vogue the last couple of decades, women still make up the majority of children who don’t go to primary school. In fact, of the 137 million young people that are illiterate in the world, two thirds are women (Kat Banyard, 2010), it is not coincidental then, that 70 percent of those living in extreme poverty (less than $1 per day) are women (Because I am a Girl: The State of the World’s Girls 2007 Report; Plan UK).

There are myriad reasons why women are educationally underachieving as compared to their male counterparts in the developing world; in many countries school is not publicly provided, and in the places that it is, the costs of school supplies preclude the possibility of attendance; parents are often forced to choose between educating their sons and educating their daughters, and in patriarchal cultures, that isn’t a tough choice; and familial caring obligations are also a key reason. None of these reasons are to be discounted in their magnitude, but perhaps the most insidious of all obstacles women face when pursuing an education is sexual harassment. The many challenges to intellectual betterment do not explain the gap in female education completely, and while poverty and family obligations are not gender-exclusive obstacles, sexual and physical harassment is.

According to the World Health Organization, school is the most common place where sexual harassment against women occurs. In Zimbabwe, an Amnesty International survey found that 92% of school-aged girls had been sexually propositioned by men or boys at or on the way to school. For women who have the opportunity to go to school, where is the incentive when they are faced with such rampant and overt sexual harassment. This obstacle to education is so unique and devastating because when women leave school because of the harassment that they face (usually with no consequences, because “boys will be boys” is still a shockingly accepted rationalization), it seems like it is a personal choice, when it’s not really.

This false choice brings us full circle, and connects educational equality in the Global North to that in the Global South; the largest barrier to equality is the current inequality. In the Western world women are steered into low paying jobs, and then gender gaps are explained away by saying that they are personal choices. While this is a significantly better problem to have than those facing many in the developing world, the root problem is often the same: women opt out of the highest quality education which will lead them to the most lucrative and prestigious careers, but they do so not out of personal agency, but because society conditions them to. Gender inequality should never be tolerated, but it is most pernicious when it precludes women from accessing the one good that has the power to change cultural perceptions: education.

– Karis McGill

Our trip to Gwalior

My name is Naina Boveja and I am the Executive Director of the Coalition for International Initiatives (CII).  I am traveling in India with 2 other members of the CII team, meeting with the schools that we are going to connect to the United States through our eKWIP platform.  Please read about my experience in Gwalior, India-

Our trip to Delhi Public School (DPS) Gwalior was more than I ever could have imagined.  The night before we went, we had the pleasure dining with the Director of the school.  He explained his vision, that children from Gwalior should be exposed to the world.  They should travel and know English well, even if their parents may not know the language. He told us his idea for video conferencing, where students from India would be taught by world-renowned teachers and vice-versa, through cutting edge technology.  We gave him more details about eKWIP, the secure platform that will connect classrooms globally.

Our adventure began with a 6:15am train ride from Delhi to Gwalior.  I had only heard about train stations in India, but never experienced one for myself, I was a little nervous, but there is nothing like going with locals who know the system.  They bypassed all the traffic and stopped in the middle to let us out.  We followed a man who carried our luggage on top of a red scarf that he wrapped around his head.  It was quite a memorable experience.

The train ride took almost 4 hours.  When we got out of the train, we were welcomed so warmly with smiles and bouquets of beautiful flowers by the Principal, 2 teachers, and one of the trustees of the school.  Similarly, when we reached the school, we were welcomed by students and teachers with a traditional welcome ceremony that included putting a tikka on our foreheads and giving us a blessing.

We walked around the entire school for the rest of the school day, understanding the innovative methodology and seeing the smiling children.  It was hard to believe the school is only 4 years old!

The Principal of DPS Gwalior, Mr. Sunil Bhalla, has created an environment conducive to learning at every level.  The results are phenomenal. The teachers are his strength and he their inspiration.  The day starts out with a motivational thought texted to parents and teachers.  He also has the same thought on various bulletin boards in the school, so the students can also see the message.

It was a breath of fresh air to see teachers have complete freedom over their classrooms.  Students learn diverse subjects in innovative ways. There are dance classes, science, computer, and math labs, audiovisual rooms, music lessons and traditional subjects (just to name a few). They also teach English, Japanese, and German.  The facilities are excellent.  They are bright and airy.   The cheerful environment definitely carries over to the students.  One thing I found particularly interesting is how the students spend less time in school, but are retaining the information at a very high level.  The school day is from 8-2:30, and the morning classes are traditional subjects and the afternoon classes are activities based.  They are using the student’s energy level to their advantage. Some might take the activities-oriented method of learning as unconventional, but the bottom line is that every student seems to enjoy their experience, and they remember the concepts that they had learned previously.

When we went outside, we saw the real life version of some of the exploriments (the science portion of the eKWIP portal), in large tactical “toys” for the children to discover while they are outside.  Concepts in applied math and physics are part of a garden near the playground, so children can be learning while they are playing.

After the school day was over, we had a late lunch and went to the Gwalior Fort to see the Sound and Light show. People sit outside the steps of the fort and hear the history of the place while different parts of the fort light up according to the story.  It was beautiful.

The next morning we arrived at school a little before 9am and were escorted to the outdoor stage area where the students have their Assembly twice a week. The topic of the day was wisdom so teachers and students spoke to the particular topic. We were honored as their special guests. The students showed us dance performances, sang songs, recited poetry and gave speeches. One performance (the peacock dance) actually placed second on the reality TV show India’s Got Talent.

Our day was packed.  After the assembly we had a meeting with the principal to understand the report cards and evaluation system.  The one thing I realized from this school is that everyone is held accountable. The report card includes input from teachers as well as parents.  They go beyond measuring English and Science and have categories for each subject, such as Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Comprehension, as well as Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.  They ask parents to evaluate their own children on discipline, obedience, and their consistent study habits.  The evaluations are taken into account for their overall marks.  The children were so polite and disciplined, that you could tell they took the DPS motto of, “Service before self”, to heart.  Whenever we were walking through the school, the students were sure to say “good morning mam,” or “good afternoon mam.”

Later in the day, we met with some of the students to answer questions about our program. We talked to 10th and 11th graders and found out what each student wants to be after he or she finishes high school. Students want to become astronauts, engineers, lawyers, business people, designers, and journalists. We asked them how they know what they want to be at such a young age, and each student said that it was discussed with their parents and mutually decided.  There was a diverse group, and just by talking to the students, we knew that they would make their ambitions into reality. After, we had the opportunity to speak to the teachers.  We showed them a demo of a eKWIP and answered their questions.

In the afternoon, we had a press conference. Several of the local papers in Gwalior were in attendance.  We even had our picture in the paper!  The press conference went well and people seemed to like the idea of connecting classrooms to each other.  They wanted to be sure that we would also show the rural areas and similarly connect them to the world. We told them that we would be sure to do that in the subsequent rounds of the program.

While we were in all of our meetings, the students made rangolis for us all over the school.  They used traditional materials like sand and flowers, and non-traditional materials like soda cans and candies.  The whole experience was mesmerizing and we enjoyed every minute.  We look forward to working with DPS Gwalior as our lead school in India and are sure that the cultural and academic exchange with  classrooms using the eKWIP portal and video conferencing capabilities will go beyond any of our expectations.

Naina Boveja
Executive Director
Coalition for International Initiatives