Education standards vary across countries and regions also within countries, there are those that will have different standards based on states or districts. A case in point here is the United States of America.
However, there is a trend where by those countries that had been colonies of a given country ended up adopting the curricula of that country. Over time however, these countries have been able to modify and improve the standard of education so as to keep pace with the developed countries.
This is because the world over, quality of education is viewed as the yardstick to development. It then follows that all countries try to constantly improve their education system to keep pace with development.
Other countries, though they were never colonial powers, have been able to device sound education standards that have been aped by many countries. Like any other sector, attempts to improve on education standards are not entirely free from political interference. Politicians have been known to front up support by proposing education reforms that will have positive impact on the standards of education. However, not all politicians have genuine intentions, and this has seen many a country adopt a policy that was not only costly, but also not worthy of emulation.
The development as well as the implementation of education standards will vary depending on the level of education. for one, the reforms and standards that are desirable to these different institutions are not complex in the same manners. still, common features though do cut across the wide divide of these education institutions. this means that those standards that have been put in place at the primary level , will vary from those at high school, and at higher education level.
Basically, standards in education can be viewed as as the yardstick for measure the prosperity of a country. Different countries for this matter have got different standards of education that they have put in place. it is no secret that most of the global powers today have been built around sound human resource, which is a product of the education system.
Japan is one of the countries that has got an education system, that most countries are now trying to emulate. Here, the system is more involved in an in- depth understanding of the content that is being taught. in terms of the contents, it is not so wide. For this reason then, the Japanese have been able to embrace a system that enables the students to explore far and wide into areas of research. the system in japan is so arranged that right from high school, those students who are good academically get enrollment into academic institutions. they will eventually move on to universities of research.
On the other hand, those students who are endowed in terms of technical matters are able to move on to industrial high schools where they are able to sharpen their skills. Another country that has a similar education system is Germany. Perhaps this is the reason why the two countries are regarded as technology giants the world over, in their constant attempts to try and out do each other. on the other hand, such a system does not exist in the united states, where the system is characterised by teaching of a very wide curricula and allocation of too many home-based assignments.
The textbooks that Japan students uses are manageable and are thus not as thick volume wise as those from America. Nevertheless, the Japanese system has been accused by scholars and teachers alike as being too demanding to the students, leaving them with no time for social life. However, the government has been very receptive and has since put in place reforms. In japan, the standards of education are such that every 10 years or so, the government is in a position to be able to develop and improve the curricular (Hidermori, 2000).
Furthermore, the country normally has a national curricula that is able to harmonise the education standard. Again, this is lacking in the United States system. It is also worth noting that in this country, the development of any new curricula takes as much as three years.
Even then, it has to involve a lot of stakeholders, notably teachers who must be involved in every aspect of the process. In this regard, parts of the old curricula that are deemed inappropriate are scrapped and a new curricula implemented, hence the new curricula is almost always as renewal of the old one.
It is through this sought of revision then, that the Japanese standard of education has experienced a massive improvement since 1970s, when the class hours were reduced by 10, following complaints from the Japanese teachers union among others that the students were being overloaded The real issue leading to the excessive studying lay in the fact that the system laid much focus on entrance examinations to highly ranked high schools as well as institutions of higher learning, thus leading to the students studying for the sake of passing examinations.
Here, curriculum is normally set by a body called Monbusho (ministry of education), which over the years has been able to see an increase in the choice of electives in junior high school as well as merging of others. In order to be able to achieve these kinds of reforms though, the Monbusho will normally organise workshops and also issues out publications all aimed at informing schools of the changes in the curricula. Textbooks that are used in the institutions of learning in Japan are normally published by even private publisher, but must all be reviewed by Monbusho for approval.
This approval is carried out by a panel of elementary and secondary teachers, as well as university professors.
In terms of school performance, students are usually tested on knowledge of the curricula they have studied. However, the Japanese education system is not just restricted to matters of academia. The Japanese have deemed it appropriate to include moral education into their school system .
The Japanese culture is still very rich and has been able to remain so for a long time now. Perhaps this is due to the emphasis that the Japanese lays onto their culture.(Trelfa, 2008).
So much so that , even those people who adopts this standard of education also ends up adopting their culture too. In comparison to the united states, moral education in the United States cannot compare to that in Japan. This is also reflected in the society in terms of crimes committed, as there more crime rates and violence America when one compares with figures from Japan. So prominent is the moral education that several prominent educators from the United States have made trips to this country to borrow a leaf.
To Japanese, education is meant to develop a person in totality, that is morally, spiritually, socially as well as emotionally.
The Japanese curricula seems to recognise this, as it consists of three categories of academic subjects, moral ones and also special activities. (Passin, 1965 ). Perhaps the input of any government in education matters would be best illustrated by the budgetary allocation that is given to the sector every year. In japan, the amount have been increasing steadily since the 1960s, a clear testimony of the commitment of the government to matters of education.
The public primary expenditure of the United States , according to a comparison survey carried between in 1961-1962, have indicated that the figures reported do no vary greatly. The emphasis today for all developing countries is now to increase the allocation to both secondary school as well as the higher education. Another observable trend is the allocation by the government, of salaries to teachers In japan, this too has been on an upward trend since 1962.
In Britain, there has been reported changes in the education policies, as political change of government are also witnessed. In fact , there was a lot of expectations from the labour government when prime minister Tony Blair came into office (Regan, 2007).
Even Margaret Thatcher before him had also been involved in attempts to bring reforms to the education system. Britain has undergone a major transformation in their education system, whereby even the handling of school expenditure, hitherto handled by local governments was now given directly to head teachers during the reign of Margaret Thatcher.
In fact, this was seen by many as an attempt to prove to the Tories party that they were not in charge. It had been the was they who had championed the course for the local authorities to handle the budgetary allocation to schools. This has gone on to show that governments have always had to some extent a control over the school system. since the reign of Tony Blair in the labour party the issue of maintaining education standards has been very much in existence. It is for same reason of improving standards that the the office of standards in education was established in 1993.
Events leading to this historic establishment were such that the education system was registering failure, in that there were reported wide disparities in terms of performance in different schools, hence the need to identify a common yardstick that would streamline the whole sector. Over the years, advancement in technology has forced the British government to periodically review its curricula in a bid to reflect this changing trend. This is because at one point or another, Britain has been a manufacturing economy, and so the education system was also geared to produce a workforce that would be able to serve the market.
However, with the emergence of the information era, the system had to be altered accordingly, in order to reflect the changing times. For any education system the world over, it is important to have a crucial recognition of teachers as the cornerstone to the success of the education system. As such, any country that is keen on improving economically, politically and socially, must accord the teachers the dignity that they rightly deserves. This is with respect to the training that they are able to receive from the teacher training institutes, to the allocation of funds these institutions receive.
Still, the teachers must be accorded conducive working environment, as well as decent amenities such as housing. Not to be left out is the pay that they earn, as it acts as a great motivator to the.
In many countries, teachers too have also been beneficiaries of education reforms, with immense improvement on the school scores. It is as a result of such reforms in Japan in 2007 that saw the reduction in the number of instruction hours by the teachers to students.
In its place , the national curriculum was able to adapt an integrated system where by the teacher could now be able to interact with the students on a one- on- one basis.
Teachers must not only honour their contacts, but must also be seen to be accountable for what they are able to teach their students. (Hooghart, 2006). The issue of accountability is very crucial in the education system. As teachers are role models to students under their care in more ways than one, they must thus be able to not only have a sense of self discipline, but also instil the same to their students. The call for accountability thus is important at the school, community as well as the national level.
In the United States unlike in Japan where they have a national curricula, and control as well as funding coming from the government, this is not the case in the United States. Here, the federal system, states and local authorities plays an important role. School boards not only have a jurisdiction to education matters, but they also allocate funds. The United States has also been actively involved over the years in attempts to improve the standard of education. By and large, the education standards of the United States, in comparison to international ones ranks lower.(DeCoker, 2000).
It is thus imperative that reforms are instituted so as to revert the situation. This does not imply that resources have not been channeled to the education sector. Some scholars have been quick to explain that perhaps this low performance is due to the fact that the curricula and examinations are not as challenging (OECD, 2007).
The government has thus made it a part of their duty that all children are able to attend school. This could be the reason why congress was quick to enact the No Child Left behind Act (N CLB), with an aim to enhance performance levels.
By way of improving and implementing education standards, it is one way of ensuring that the United States ,as a nation is able to continue commanding a lead in all fields. it is also the only way of ensuring that this workforce is sought after home and abroad. By way of comparison of the different education standards that are there in the world, it is important to note that in as much as an education systems may be lauded as being good, no one system in totality is perfect. For this reason, no single system can be terned perfect. for the same reason, it becomes paramount to explore far and wide in an attempt to identify which policies are better to borrow and implement in an education system.
Anne M. Hooghart.(2006). Education reform in Japan and its Influence on teacher’s work: International
Bernard, R,. 2007. Campaigning against Neo-liberal education in Britain: Journal for Critic Education Policy Studies. 5 (1), May 2007. ISSN 1740-274
DeCoker, G,.(2000). Looking at United States Education Through the eyes of Japanese instructors. Phil delta.
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Hidermori. F,. (2000). education reform and education politics in Japan: American sociologist. 31.3 (42) ,Apollo library, 2008.
Jaekyung, L., (2001). School Reform Initiatives(SRI) as balancing Acts: policy variation and educational convergence among japanESE, Koreans, England and the U.S., 9(13), ISSN 1068-2341, APRIL 24.
OECD, (2007). Improving primary and secondary education : OECD Economic Surveys. May 15, 2008
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