A new road map for education development   (Published: 21.12.2019)

I. Introduction to development cooperation in education

The objective of this assessment paper for the Development of Cooperation between Education Sector and Education is to bridge functional differences in education across countries by aligning the content and functional objectives of the education sector by: (1) reinforcing and diversifying access to education for individual pupils and sections of the population; (2) removing social and operational barriers; (3)  increasing mobility and diversification of learning within individual countries and within Europe; and (4) by increasing cooperation and student exchanges between EU countries at international level. The proposed cooperation mechanism consists of three sub-areas of hierarchical interdependence, as detailed below.

Supporting partner own initiatives is a key issue in developing EU education cooperation. Teaching-learning and education systems have evolved in different ways and at different times in individual countries and continents. There is no one right model. Instead, we know from experience that if countries voluntarily develop their educational systems based on established practices and standards, they will also produce results within and beyond their borders. In the EU education sector and education development programs, tertiary education and R&D in education are strategic areas of EU & donor cooperation.

II. Core teaching-learning process and individual programs

The teaching and learning process is the core of the education sector, where technical assistance partners work together to create mutually beneficial development goals. Development takes place within a mutually agreed framework of development through various operational programs. The initiators are educational authorities in the partner country, professional organizations in the education sector, civil society organizations and individual citizens.

EU financial support is focused on individual projects and development programs in all areas of the education sector. At present, there are several individual programs and financial instruments in the education sector in standalone interventions to support the teaching-learning process and development programs in different areas of the teaching and learning process. Primary actors and initiators should also be experts in the education sector in the partner country.

Another approach for standalone interventions consists of more demanding and specialized programs for different disciplines and levels of education. A single partner country will be involved in all or its selected key areas. Seen from the point of view of individual action programs, these activities are focused on and cover the design, implementation and evaluation of teaching. An example of this methodology is the Digitalization Preparation Project, which aims to describe and standardize the business processes of teaching and of the education sector administration.

The third objective of the individual programs approach is to harmonize activities and to achieve commonality of industry standards within the education sector for later national and international cooperation. As examples of more multidimensional projects, numerous cross-border cooperation programs such as the Bologna process, Tempus, Erasmus, etc. can be mentioned. Extra-curricular activities and sports collaboration at different levels are also important areas in supporting people's mental and physical growth.

III. Establishment and monitoring of country-specific education programs

Where there is a platform from the previous level of cooperation to a more advanced level of cooperation, it can be supported by the following four national strategic identity programs.

1) Improving the social dimension of education (Access to education)

The driving force behind school reforms has very often been the need for industry and society to have skilled and trained professionals from the school system. On the other hand, there are other emerging needs, such as the promotion of multilingualism and tolerance in society. Elementary school reform in Finland and the Nordic countries began in the 1960s with educational equality, which later spread throughout the world and international cooperation programs. Equality in education continues to be the starting point and the foundation for sustainable school reform.

2) Improving school system compatibility (Mobility within education)

Compatibility between school and general curriculum can be a problem for both society and the individual. The internal compatibility of the integrated primary school system is better managed than in the old parallel school system. In learning, students can move both from the bottom up and to some extent horizontally in secondary education between the two main educational streams. People ripen at different stages, which should be considered when organizing education. Too early segregation can be fatal for students who are developing slower. There are different career choices in Europe, all of which do not promote equality in education. Man is only once in his life a young and evolving individual.

3) Integration of HE / VET activities in the country's economy (Mobility in Society)

Considering the needs of the economy is the starting point for the reform of secondary and tertiary education in the industrialized, transition and developing countries. It is the starting point and the necessary institutional structure to provide intellectual resources for productive activities and services to safeguard the functions of society. It also has interfaces with school administration and teaching and research guidance. The university institution in the old society was an independent social institution, but no longer to this day. It also has an impact on the content of teaching, which is increasingly controlled from outside the university.

4) Cultural heritage, values ​​and religion of the country and the local community

In all these four sectors, the EU and the international donor community provide very similar platforms and frameworks for other countries through different programs. In addition to this assessment paper, the author has a separate "template" to identify and mutate the content, delivery tools and assessment methods of the national-level education and training system in relation to the teaching-learning process. Incorporating cultural heritage and one's own societal values ​​into teaching content remains important in a converging educational monoculture that is expanding as a result of international cooperation. The role of religious education in content varies and requires new thinking as a result of increased immigration from different countries.

Education programs at national level are always political decision-making processes where a balance must be struck at national level between the majority and the minority.

IV. Implementation of the fourth objective of sustainable development

Almost all countries involved in international education cooperation in the education sector have in 2015 signed Agenda 2030 for SDGs, as well as other education and international education cooperation agreements mentioned therein. The objectives of the education sector and education cooperation in the 2030 program are set out in Objective 4 of the program.

To manage the education sector and educational cooperation, Agenda 2030 targets can be divided into four clusters. Three clusters are program content clusters and the fourth is an entity that combines leadership and its tools (ICT / digitalization) into one entity that differs from content clusters because of its methodological orientation. Other areas of interest and development in teaching and educational co-operation have been:

A) The Role of the 2030 SDG Goals Program in Collaboration (Concept Analysis)

B) State of play regarding implementation of the 2030 Objective Program (Situation Analysis)

C) Descriptive Standards for Education and Training Co-operation Systems (Goals vs Processes)

D) Synergy issues in international education cooperation (Evaluation of effectiveness)

E) Classifications of Education and Training and Statistical Cooperation (Monitoring Tools)

F) Education / Training Indicators and Evaluation Standards (Evaluation Tools)

G) Compatibility of IT Systems in Education and Training (Processes & ITC)

The various programs of education and training cooperation should be compatible and manageable between different actors and partners. Cooperation between national and leading education sector donors and other actors is changing all the time. The digitalization cooperation now being planned will set higher compatibility requirements for future cooperation.

Individual programs operating at different levels and country strategies developed based on bilateral cooperation have produced results and changes in the practices of different recipient countries. Therefore, it would be particularly important to find a common language when seeking answers to the above questions to reconcile the traditional mechanisms of cooperation in the education sector with the Agenda 2030 for SDGs approach.

V Financing mechanisms for education and training

The bulk of funding for education and training cooperation comes from public funds. Public funding covers all aspects of education and training cooperation from development programs to operational maintenance and investment. Scholarships, loans and reimbursements for study costs are also part of this hectic public-funded funding. Prior to the current single-school system, primary education was divided into the elementary school and the secondary school system, where primary school and high school education were also priced at a basic level in comparison to public schools.

There are four steps to planning and implementing a national-level educational process: (1) creating a vision, (2) defining curriculum content, (3) selecting means and methods, and (4) evaluating performance. As education in most European countries is currently financed by public funds, there is no need to add financial matters to the attached agenda. However, financial issues are topical in many countries and require considerable time and resources to manage the sector.

It might be appropriate for countries such as Europe to have a new perspective on financial issues. In the field of environment, a process is currently under way in the European Parliament to develop the concept of "sustainable funding and its criteria" with the help of assigned expert groups. Knowledge, like pure and vibrant nature, also has its value. Based on the value of knowledge, could a new kind of thinking be used in education cooperation to create a financing base for education and training.

VI. Quality control of education and training cooperation

Quality control is central to teaching and training, and the training process is divided into planning, implementation and monitoring. The latter targets the whole process and the people involved. Traditional student evaluation has been matched by national and international comparisons of learning. The most prominent of these are NAEP, PISA, TIMMS, PIRLS, the results of which exceed the national news coverage thresholds in all countries.

The more international the training activities become, the greater the importance of quality assurance and quality control methods, which are common in many countries, due to joint monitoring and production of statistics (Euridice). In recent years, more diverse feedback to enhance the individual student's learning process has also become a subject of research and experimentation in education research in numerous countries.

The further digitalization progresses in the education sector, the more demanding it is to make and evaluate strategic choices in daily work. In Western market economies, computerization and digitalization have moved from routine to large-scale processing of data and have evolved towards more sophisticated systems supporting management and changes.

Centralized and top-down approach in digitalization of public administration is now taking place as part of various collaborative projects at both national and international level. In this case, the descriptions of objectives and standards are emphasized as the starting point and regulate the form of development work.

In the early decades of data processing based on truncation operations, the development of information systems was based on the specification of interdependencies and the description of operations as a starting point for data processing and digitization.

At that time, there was a detailed description of the target operation to be controlled and its control system with various sub-functions. This is lacking in current reform thinking. It would be high time to start developing activities instead of continually setting goals and subdividing them into smaller ones.

VII Post Scriptum 24.12.2019

In recent years, I have described the Soviet Union / Russia changes, the education sector / education reform and the goal of the program of sustainable development by the year 2030. The matters are many views. However, there is widespread awareness of the need for change.

The Second World War ended with peace. Even then, there is an increasing use of force to promote one's own affairs. In addition to the soft instruments of the beginning, new forms of force are increasingly being used to support one's own views.

Development is a process of change. It lacks integrity. If you compare the development of the world community with the development of the individual - where is the space for your own growth. The philosophy of education defines education as bringing about growth. Who is responsible for the change?

Seeing things as different entities makes them manageable. Realizing it is a big thing. No one should argue for something if there is enough room for other views. Managing even a small change is a step on the road to unity and integrity.

© Asumer Oy / Heikki K. Auvinen, 2019 - All rights reserved

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