|Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.5 No.8||August 2008|
|Cover Story by Alan Haskvitz|
|NCLB/Poor Teacher Training:|
End of Gifted Education?
|The most at risk students in the nation are the gifted. Here’s why.|
|Harry & Rosemary Wong: Effective Teaching|
|A Computer Teacher Shows the Way|
|»||Tools for the Coming School YearCheryl Sigmon|
|»||Get the Most Out of Being Mentored - Part 2:Take ResponsibilityHal Portner|
|»||Get Set for the Best Year Yet!Sue Gruber|
|»||UPDATE!! Hooray! I did it!Sue Gruber|
|»||"Getting to Know Each Other"Activities, part 1Leah Davies|
|»||School is a VerbTodd R. Nelson|
|»||5 Classroom TipsMarvin Marshall|
|»||The Busy Educator's Monthly FiveMarjan Glavac|
|»||Dear Barbara - Advice for SubsBarbara Pressman|
|»||Who’s Cheating Whom? (Part 2)|
|»||Responsibility Equals Participation|
|»||The Classic Pirate|
|»||August 2008 Writing Prompts|
|»||UNESCO Survey Finds Underprivileged Children Also Disadvantaged in the Classroom|
|»||Good Grades Are Nice – But Mastery is Better|
|»||A Teaching Guide for Libby Bloom|
|»||Brain Based Learning Chat Transcript with Dr. Daniel S. Janik|
|»||Being Mentored Chat Transcript with Hal Portner|
|»||6 Traits Writing chat|
|»||Make the Call!|
|»||High School Physics - "First" or "Last" - Must and Can Be Mathematical|
|»||What would you do...|
|»||Printable Worksheets & Teaching Aids|
|»||A Candle of Inspiration: August 2008|
|»||School Photographs for August 2008|
|»||Lessons, Resources and Theme Activities: August 2008|
|»||Video Bytes: Mathmaticious, Stand up for P.E.!, Becoming a teacher and More|
|»||Today Is... Daily Commemoration for August 2008|
|»||Live on Teachers.Net: August 2008|
|»||The Lighter Side of Teaching|
|»||Apple Seeds: Inspiring Quotes for Teachers|
|»||Lighting a Spark About College|
|»||Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers|
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UNESCO Survey Finds Underprivileged Children Also Disadvantaged in the Classroom
A study by UNESCO highlights the strong effect of social inequality on primary education systems in many countries and the challenge to provide all children with equal learning opportunities.
|By Amy Otchet
UNESCO Institute for Statistics
August 1, 2008
A new study by UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics (UIS) highlights the strong effect of social inequality on primary education systems in many countries and the challenge to provide all children with equal learning opportunities.
Entitled A View Inside Primary Schools, the report presents the results of a unique survey undertaken in 11 countries in Latin America, Asia and North Africa. As part of the World Education Indicators (WEI) programme, the countries were involved in developing and conducting the survey to examine the factors shaping the quality and equality of primary education. The countries are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, India, Malaysia, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Uruguay.
Fourth grade teachers and principals from more than 7,600 schools responded to detailed questionnaires on how schools function, how teachers teach, learning conditions and the support available to teachers and principals.
“This survey offers a wealth of data. On the one hand, we see the extent to which schools lack the most basic elements - running water or electricity – that are taken for granted in the developed countries,” says Hendrik van der Pol, director of the Institute. “But the data also reveal how social inequality affects a child’s opportunity to learn. And clearly, no country – rich or poor – is immune to these disparities.”
The report reveals major gaps in resources between urban and rural schools. In a study conducted in four states in India, 27% of village schools were found to have electricity compared to 76% of schools in towns or cities. Only about half of these rural schools have enough toilets for girls and less than 4% have a telephone.
In Peru, less than half of village schools are equipped with electricity, a library or toilets for boys or girls. Yet, in urban areas, nearly all schools have electricity, 65% have enough lavatories and 74% have libraries.
In general, village schools are in greater need of repair, according to the survey results. In Peru and the Philippines, for example, principals in rural areas report that about 70% of their pupils are in schools that needed major repairs or complete re-building. In Brazil, half the pupils in villages sat in run-down classrooms compared to less than 30% of pupils in urban establishments.
“It is disturbing to think that students get more or less resources based on where they live. But that is just part of the story,” says Yanhong Zhang, one of the authors of the report. “The study shows that pupils in villages were more likely to come from disadvantaged homes. So the inequalities in school resources are linked to their socio-economic status. In effect, these children are subject to a double-jeopardy – with fewer resources at home and in school.”
In the survey, teachers and school heads were asked to evaluate their pupils’ backgrounds based on a range of factors – from family income and parents’ education levels to the frequency with which these children missed meals. The information served as the basis for an index used to examine the links between socio-economic status and school conditions, including the learning environment.
One of the most important factors shaping learning environments is the engagement of teachers and pupils. According to the study, teachers and principals in schools serving socially disadvantaged children tend to report lower levels of pupil motivation and more behavioural problems. This finding was most striking in Latin American countries and in the comparison between private and public schools.
These findings are based on perception and, therefore, must be interpreted with caution. Are disadvantaged children really less motivated learners? Or are difficult working conditions colouring teachers’ views of their students? Either situation is troubling, according to the report’s authors. Negative perceptions can lead to a vicious cycle in which teachers, parents and students expect and achieve less in the classroom.
The WEI survey of primary schools sheds light on how this cycle of reduced expectations can shape the learning and teaching environment. It provides detailed information on a range of issues – from the extent to which schools strive to ensure that all students realize their academic potential to parental involvement in their children’s schooling.
The data indicate that working conditions were perceived to be more difficult in schools serving a majority of disadvantaged students. In these schools, teachers were generally dissatisfied with salary, parental support, class size and access to classroom materials.
The survey also included a specific questionnaire on the extent to which students are given real opportunities to learn in reading. In most countries, teachers with motivated and privileged students tend to use more challenging materials and activities. They also engage in more creative teaching methods. In contrast, teachers with disadvantaged students describe their teaching style as less demanding and more often based on rote learning.
As the authors point out, there is an urgent need to direct more resources towards schools serving under-privileged communities. However, building repairs and school libraries, for example, will not ensure that all children have the opportunity to fulfil their academic potential. Targeted policies are required to improve the learning environment of pupils and the working conditions of teachers and principals. Inequality involves a complex set of problems shaping society at large. But with proper support, schools can improve the chances of all pupils.
The full report (available in English) and the executive summary (English and Spanish) are available on the UIS website at http://www.uis.unesco.org/publications/weisps
Quick facts from the WEI Survey of Primary Schools: