PISA, strong on equity, but weak on positive teacher policy

By Education International

Education unions worldwide have acknowledged that the latest results of the Programme for International Student Assessment contain a range of strong and positive proposals on equity, tackling disadvantage and on the promotion of science teaching, but fail to adopt a coherent narrative on positive teacher policy.

Education International (EI), the global confederation of 401 national education unions and organisations in 172 countries, representing 32.5 million individual members, has commented on the outcomes of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) published today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“There is much in the latest PISA from the OECD which affirms just how important it is for countries to have strong thriving public education systems,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “Many of its proposals for improving equity are vital for the future of all young people.”

The EI General Secretary welcomed the proposals for targeting additional support for children of immigrants and disadvantaged backgrounds, and urge all governments to support them. The report’s condemnation of gender stereotyping in Science rightly highlights how society’s attitudes towards girls and Science can limit ambition, he said. Boys from lower socio economic backgrounds were also more likely to repeat years of schooling.

Students in advantaged schools have access to better materials and resources whereas students in disadvantaged schools have less teaching time and are more likely to be required to repeat grades, the report says, also emphasising that targeted additional resources will make a positive difference for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Positive policies towards supporting the learning of young people from immigrant backgrounds can lead to major increases in students’ learning, although the majority of students from immigrant families have lower levels of achievement.

However, Van Leeuwen admitted his disappointment with the report’s conclusions and tone around the use of resources for schools. “Higher public expenditure on education has not always delivered better results. This directly contradicts the need for sufficient resources. The best experts on resources are teachers themselves,” he said, adding that their voice is largely silent in this edition of PISA. Leaders are referred to again and again, but the teachers survey has barely been used. This is a missed opportunity.

Many school systems are still seriously underfunded, he deplored, stressing that it is to teachers themselves that governments should turn if they want to know what resources schools need and how to spend them wisely.

Education International strongly believes that the OECD must be very careful not to promote a false dichotomy between ensuring sufficient resources for schools and quality education. This contradicts OECD’s own proposals for targeted resources for immigrant students, education in the early years and disadvantaged students and equity in resource allocation. For EI, sufficient resources enable teachers to do their jobs, and a wise use of resources comes both from engaging the teaching profession and their unions in evidence informed policy development and evaluating the effects of education reforms.

The OECD urges that the priority must be to “attract and retain qualified teachers, and ensure that they continue to learn throughout their careers,” yet the OECD seem more confused than ever about the relationship between class size, teacher qualification and student achievement. Again, this goes against their own data where it unequivocally says, “in schools with smaller classes, students report that teachers can dedicate greater attention to individual students’ needs and knowledge, provide individual help to struggling students, and change the structure of the lesson if students find it difficult to follow”. Education International also regrets that the OECD has a narrow view of education systems, e.g. when it investigates the results of Shanghai students or Singapore’s students.

Education International clearly supports the focus on equity, disadvantaged students and the fact that the teachers in the public sector are for the first time acknowledged as the best in the world, gaining better results than their private counterparts when socioeconomic data is accounted for. However, the writing team has failed to take a nuanced view of the impact of qualified teachers, small classes and adequate resourcing on the development of quality education.

Education International is organising a post publication webinar for affiliates whose countries have participated in PISA 2015 on 14 December 2016 from 1:30 – 3:00 pm (GMT). The purpose of the webinar is to brief affiliates on key messages from PISA 2015 and enable affiliates to discuss its outcomes. PISA Senior Manager Peter Adams and PISA Senior Advisor Michael Stevenson from the OECD PISA Team will to take part and present key findings from PISA 2015.


John Bangs, Education International: email: John.Bangs@ei-ie.org or tel: +447879480056 or +32473840732

Education International is the largest global teacher organisation representing over 30 million teachers in more than 170 countries and territories.

Executive Report – PISA 2015: brace for impact

What is the PISA standardized test?

PISA stands for Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and is a two-hour standardized test that attempts to assess the competencies of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science in 72 different countries. The PISA test was first administered in the year 2000 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and is conducted every three years in Alberta, with PISA 2012 being the fifth international ranking.

The PISA assessment is a mixture of open-ended and multiple-choice questions organized in groups based on a passage setting of a real-life situation. Students take various combinations of different tests and are asked (along with their school principals) to answer questionnaires on their backgrounds, schools and learning experiences and about the broader education system and learning environment.

he PISA test in the year 2015 covered the domains of science, reading and mathematics, with a focus on scientific literacy. In the year 2012 the spotlight was on mathematics, with reading and science assessed as minor domains, and in 2009 the PISA test focused primarily on 15-year-olds’ reading abilities.

When examining the perceived winners and losers in the past PISA 2012 rankings, it is important to note that the top five education systems have always done extremely well in international standardized tests, especially in math, primarily because they are so test-centric and hyper-focused on mathematics. One of the lesser examined aspects of PISA 2012 was how the test correlated with the rise of a shadow education industry (private tutoring) around the world.

Why should I care?

The PISA ideology accepts that economic imperatives, growth and competitiveness are the primary aims of schooling, and assures that student achievement in math and science are used as the key indicators of the future economic health for a region or society. It fails to recognize that the role of education is much broader and includes (among a host of other responsibilities) the nurturing of social cohesion in rapidly changing complex societies, passing on our diverse cultural heritage and the promotion of civic engagement and citizenship.

Continue Reading (The Alberta Teachers’ Association):

By Phil McRae, ATA Executive Staff Officer

APEC schools’ model undermines education quality

Teachers’ unions call for greater funding of public education, not private


Amid an educational system “overburdened and underresourced,” the Affordable Private Education Center (APEC) Schools, a joint venture of international education company Pearson and Philippine business giant Ayala Corporation, seek to provide for-profit secondary education through an edu-business model approved by the Department of Education (DepEd) raising questions on quality and teachers’ rights.

With over 10,000 students in Grades 7 to 9 and Grade 11, the education chain now operates schools in 29 sites in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. APEC aims to establish 500 schools in 10 years enrolling up to 250,000 students.

Through an agreement signed in 2013, DepEd has in effect waived its existing regulations for private schools in basic education in favor of APEC and its “market-based solutions in order to grow more private schooling …, instead of building more government schools.”

apec-003APEC has been renting unused office spaces in commercial buildings instead of constructing school facilities on purchased land, a practice which would have been in violation of DepEd regulations on size, location and accessibility of school buildings, Riep’s research revealed. Other facilities such as science laboratories, libraries, and gymnasiums are either inexistent, not fully equipped, or shared among APEC schools.

Riep’s study also found that up to 70 percent of APEC’s teachers are not licensed. The teachers are then paid low wages and asked to stick to standardized lesson plans.

In an earlier statement, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) called on DepEd to repeal its agreement with APEC and for the government to divert to the public education system the P12 billion fund now being allocated to vouchers, which are given to students to attend private schools like APEC.

“P12 billion could have built around 30,000 classrooms and could have catered to more than one million students. Solving the problems of public education is not through privatization schemes. The voucher system is designed to shift money away from public schools and to private schools including for-profit schools such as APEC, making education highly profitable in the Philippines,” said Raymond Basilio, ACT national secretary-general.

He added that APEC’s non-compliance with DepEd requirements for private schools shows how APEC values profiting from students and the voucher system, putting profit before the well-being of Filipino youth.

In the DepEd budget hearing at the House of Representatives on September 2, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that APEC’s agreement with the department has not been renewed for the present school year and is under review.

Other previous research by EI and Riep has also expressed concern over the growth in countries such as Kenya and Uganda of private for-profit school chains employing unqualified teachers, providing scripted lessons and using unsuitable environments for learning to drive down costs.

Riep’s study titled “Corporatised Education in the Philippines: Pearson, Ayala Corporation, and the emergence of Affordable Private Education Centers (APEC)” can be accessed here.

Media contact:
Raymond Basilio, ACT Teachers: +63 917 638 9151
Curtis Riep, University of Alberta: riep@ualberta.ca

Unite for Quality Education

As a a long-standing member of Education International (EI), CTF has actively participated in EI’s Unite for Quality Education and Global Response campaigns. The purpose is to advocate for governments to act in the public interest with adequate funding, resources and policy to ensure quality inclusive public education and to stop edu-business from profiting at the expense of access for all to free quality publicly-funded public education. What follows is an excellent op-ed by Susan Hopgood, EI President and Fred van Leeuwen, EI’s General Secretary: http://tinyurl.com/unite4ed

UN offers a new educational resource to fight hunger worldwide


The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has developed a valuable educational resource in the form of a power point presentation designed to inform schools across Canada about both global hunger and the commitment of world leaders to eradicate it (#Zero Hunger) by 2030. This resource is ideally suited to Grades 5 and 6 and would be a great resource through the upper grades and high school.

It is an every-green resource and could be used throughout the year but would have particular relevance to World Food Day, October 16, 2016.

This informative power point has 14 pictures and 4 embedded videos that serve to promote knowledge and understanding of global hunger from a hope-filled perspective. It could be used to build cross curricular competencies, such as problem-solving, student discussion, research, and debate. It could be incorporated into Math (statistics/ a hunger map rates worldwide hunger), Social (Citizenship/social responsibility), Health (Nutrition), Science, and Language Arts curricula.

This timely resource explains why people are hungry, where the hungry live, and what students can do to help. This package includes everyone’s favorite Freerice – the educational game that donates 10 grains of rice for every correct answer! Students and teachers would also be interested to learn of the impressive role Canada, itself, has played in helping combat global hunger!

Also, a live Skype interview is available to teachers to present the resource to students and answer questions about WFP’s work.

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. In emergencies, we get food to where it is needed, saving the lives of victims of war, civil conflict and natural disasters. After the cause of an emergency has passed, we use food to help communities rebuild their shattered lives.

You can download the English version here and the French version here.

For more information or to answer any questions please contact:

Julie Marshall
Canadian Spokesperson
World Food Programme
905 818 2664


Un nouvel outil pédagogique de l’ONU pour la lutte contre la faim dans le monde

Le Programme alimentaire mondial des Nations Unies a mis au point un outil pédagogique intéressant, sous la forme d’une présentation power point, destinée à informer les écoles à la fois au sujet de la faim dans le monde et l’engagement pris par les dirigeants du monde afin de l’éradiquer. Cet outil est idéal aux élèves à partir de l’âge de 10 ans et jusqu’au lycée.

Cet outil opportun explique pourquoi les populations ont faim, où vivent les personnes souffrant de la faim et ce que les élèves peuvent faire pour aider. Les élèves et les enseignants seraient également contents d’apprendre le rôle impressionnant que le Canada joue dans la lutte contre la faim dans le monde !

Une interview en direct, par Skype, est possible pour faire une présentation via l’outil pour les élèves et répondre à leurs questions sur les activités du PAM.

Vous pouvez télécharger la version anglaise ici et la version française ici.

Report on edu-business in Uganda describes deficiencies and substandard operations


A new study released Oct. 5 by Education International (EI) reveals how profits come before students and how legal standards in education have been disregarded by an edu-business operating in Uganda.

The EI report, “Schooling the Poor Profitably”, follows weeks of investigation into the operations of Bridge International Academies (BIA) in Uganda where it has established 63 private for-profit schools, since February 2015, with an estimated 12,000 fee-paying customers. This is the same company that attempted to intimidate Canadian researcher, Curtis Riep, by having him falsely accused and arrested while he was in Uganda last May.

The company has been the subject of significant criticism for failing to meet legal and educational standards and a government order closed all the schools in August. Although the schools have since reopened temporarily, EI is keeping a watchful eye.

In summary, the report’s key findings are:

  • 9 of 10 teachers hired by BI are unqualified and unlicensed;
  • Teachers read from a script as part of the BI ‘Academy-in-a-box’, with pre-programmed curricula transferred to tablet e-readers;
  • BIA facilities are below par, with reports of “poor hygiene and sanitation” in school buildings which often do not meet the Basic Requirements and Minimum Standards;
  • School fees prevent poor families from sending their children to school;
  • School fees are 20% of family income – per child;
  • Drop-out rates are high – from 10 to 60%.

For further information, please see the following statement issued by EI:

The grip of Bridge International Academies in Uganda

The education provided by Bridge International Academies (BIA) in Uganda disregards legal and educational standards established by the Government, according to a new study by Education International (EI). These include requirements to employ qualified teachers, observe the national curriculum and standards related to school facilities.

BIA is one of the largest education for-profit companies in the world, with plans to sell basic education services directly to 10 million fee-paying students in low-income communities throughout Africa and Asia by 2025. In Uganda, BIA has expanded rapidly since February 2015, with an estimated 12,000 fee-paying students. However, in August, the Permanent Secretary of Uganda decided to close all BIA schools due the company’s failure to meet the Government’s educational and legal standards.

EI’s analysis of Bridge’s curriculum and pedagogy reveals serious implications for teachers and students that fundamentally alters the nature and practice of education itself. The company has created a business plan based on strict standardisations, automated technology, cheap school structures, and internet-enabled devices that are used to carry out all instructional and non-instructional activities that make up an education system.

BIA uses broadband technology to deliver its ‘Academy-in-a-box’, with pre-programmed curricula transferred to tablet e-readers – ‘teacher-computers’ – that distribute knowledge and information to pupils. This represents a business strategy for drastically reducing operating costs and benefiting from economies of scale by employing unqualified teachers and paying them severely low wages. EI’s research revealed that up to nine out of ten BIA teachers are unlicensed, in direct contravention of Uganda’s Education Act (2008).

In addition, the physical structures of Bridge Academies are below par, with reports of “poor hygiene and sanitation” in school buildings which often do not meet the Basic Requirements and Minimum Standards established by the Ministry of Education.

BIA fails in its mission to provide ‘affordable’ education for all children in Uganda. Children of low class cannot afford to pay anything for education, much less BIA fees, according to a Ministry official. Families with an average household income have to expend up to 23 – 27% of their earnings just to send one child to a Bridge school for one year. Indeed, the BIA school dropout rate ranges from 10%-60%.

Education International’s General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, said: ”We call on the Government of Uganda to remain steadfast in demanding that Bridge International Academies operate in accordance with Ugandan legislative and regulatory requirements. Every child deserves to be taught by a qualified teacher delivering an engaging curriculum in safe schools conducive to good teaching and learning.”

Download here the report: SCHOOLING THE POOR PROFITABLY: the innovations and deprivations of Bridge International Academies in Uganda by Riep, C. & Machacek, M. (2016)

Media Contact:

Angelo Gavrielatos (Project Director, Education International): +61488012045

Un rapport sur une entreprise de services éducatifs en Ouganda expose des faiblesses et des activités non conformes aux normes


Un nouveau rapport rendu public, le 5 octobre, par l’Internationale de l’Éducation (IE) révèle qu’une entreprise de services éducatifs installée en Ouganda fait passer les profits avant les élèves et fait fi des normes juridiques en éducation.

Le rapport de l’IE, Schooling the Poor Profitably (scolariser les pauvres pour faire des bénéfices), est le fruit d’une longue enquête sur les activités de l’entreprise Bridge International Academies (BIA) qui, depuis février 2015, a ouvert en Ouganda 63 écoles privées à but lucratif fréquentées par quelque 12 000 clientes et clients qui paient des frais de scolarité. C’est cette même entreprise qui a tenté d’intimider le chercheur canadien Curtis Riep en portant de fausses accusations contre lui et en le faisant arrêter pendant son séjour en Ouganda, en mai dernier.

BIA a fait l’objet de nombreuses critiques pour ne pas avoir respecté les normes juridiques et éducatives du pays, à la suite de quoi le gouvernement a fait fermer toutes les écoles, en août. Bien que les écoles aient rouvert temporairement depuis, l’IE suit la situation de près.

Voici, en bref, les principales constatations du rapport :

  • Neuf enseignantes et enseignants embauchés par BIA sur dix ne sont ni qualifiés ni brevetés;
  • Les enseignantes et enseignants lisent les leçons à partir de programmes d’enseignement préparés par BIA et transférés sur des tablettes numériques;
  • Les installations de BIA sont de mauvaise qualité, comme en témoignent des rapports faisant état notamment de conditions d’hygiène déplorables dans les établissements scolaires qui, bien souvent, ne répondent pas aux exigences de base et aux normes minimales;
  • Les droits de scolarité empêchent les familles pauvres d’envoyer leurs enfants à l’école;
  • Les droits de scolarité représentent 20 % du revenu familial — par enfant;
  • Les taux de décrochage sont élevés — de 10 à 60 %.

Pour en savoir plus sur ce sujet, veuillez lire la déclaration de l’IE (reproduite ci-dessous telle qu’elle nous a été fournie) :

La mainmise de Bridge International Academies en Ouganda

Les prestations éducatives dispensées par Bridge International Academies (BIA) en Ouganda ne respectent pas les normes légales et éducatives établies par le gouvernement, selon une nouvelle étude de l’Internationale de l’Éducation (IE), notamment l’obligation de faire appel à des enseignant(e)s qualifié(e)s, de respecter le programme scolaire national et les normes relatives aux infrastructures scolaires.

BIA, l’une des plus importantes entreprises éducatives à but lucratif du monde, ambitionne, d’ici 2025, de vendre des services éducatifs élémentaires payants à 10 millions d’élèves appartenant à des communautés à faible revenu dans toute l’Afrique et l’Asie. En Ouganda, BIA s’est rapidement développée depuis février 2015, avec environ 12 000 étudiant(e)s payant des droits de scolarité. Cependant, en août, le Secrétaire permanent de l’Ouganda a décidé de fermer toutes les écoles de BIA en raison de l’incapacité de l’entreprise à répondre aux exigences éducatives et légales du gouvernement.

L’analyse du programme d’enseignement et de la pédagogie mis en œuvre par Bridge par l’IE met en évidence d’importantes conséquences pour les enseignant(e)s et les élèves, car ils modifient fondamentalement la nature et la pratique de l’enseignement. L’entreprise a élaboré un plan d’activité axé sur une uniformisation rigide, des moyens technologiques automatisés, des infrastructures scolaires de médiocre qualité et des dispositifs connectés à Internet qui permettent de mener l’ensemble des activités pédagogiques ou non pédagogiques constituant un système éducatif.

BIA s’appuie sur le haut débit pour offrir son « Academy-in-a-box » avec des programmes d’enseignement préétablis transférés sur des tablettes numériques — « des ordinateurs enseignants » — qui transmettent les connaissances et les informations aux élèves. Cette démarche correspond à une stratégie opérationnelle visant à réduire radicalement les coûts d’exploitation et ainsi réaliser des économies d’échelle en employant des enseignant(e)s non qualifié(e)s avec des salaires de misère. L’enquête de l’IE a révélé que près de neuf enseignant(e)s de BIA sur dix ne sont pas qualifiés, en violation directe de la Loi sur l’éducation de l’Ouganda (2008).

En outre, les infrastructures scolaires de Bridge Academies sont en-dessous de la moyenne, certains rapports mentionnant « des conditions d’hygiène et sanitaires déplorables » dans les bâtiments scolaires qui, bien souvent, ne respectent pas les exigences de base et les normes minimales établies par le ministère de l’Éducation.

BIA échoue dans sa mission à proposer des prestations éducatives « abordables » à tous les enfants de l’Ouganda. Selon une autorité ministérielle, les enfants des classes défavorisées n’ont pas les moyens de débourser quelque somme que ce soit pour leur éducation, encore moins les frais d’inscription de BIA. Les familles ayant des revenus moyens doivent consacrer jusqu’à 23 à 27 % de leurs gains pour envoyer un seul enfant, pendant une année, dans une école de Bridge. De fait, le taux de décrochage dans les écoles de BIA varie de 10 à 60 %.

Fred van Leeuwen, secrétaire général de l’Internationale de l’Éducation a déclaré : « Nous demandons au gouvernement ougandais de rester ferme en exigeant que Bridge International Academies agisse conformément aux exigences législatives et réglementaires ougandaises. Tout enfant mérite de pouvoir suivre un enseignement assuré par un(e) enseignant(e) qualifié(e), axé sur un programme scolaire stimulant, dans des écoles sûres et propices à un enseignement et à un apprentissage de qualité. »

Les innovations et les carences de Bridge International Academies en Ouganda, par Riep, C. et M. Machacek. (2016)

Contact média :

Angelo Gavrielatos (Project Director, Education International): +61488012045

Demo in Ottawa -World Teachers’ Day

Join us as we stand in solidarity with our Turkish teacher colleagues

WHEN: 4 to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 5th, World Teachers’ Day

WHERE: Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
197 Wurtemberg Street (close to the Rideau River).

WHY: To stand in solidarity with over 28,000 Turkish educators who have been suspended along with tens of thousands of other citizens. Turkey is punishing educators and other public sector workers in response to the failed coup on July 15.

Let’s send a collective message to the Republic of Turkey by calling for a respect for democracy and human rights instead of unlawful actions by its military to silence its citizens and abolish their rights.

Let’s also send a message to our federal government to pressure the Turkish government to observe and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and academic freedom.

WHO: Teachers, university professors, union leaders, human rights supporters

Organized by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, Canadian Association of University Teachers, and Affiliates of Education International.

Download Poster – PDF 156 KB
Demo in Ottawa

Manif à Ottawa – Journée mondiale des enseignantes et des enseignants

Venez vous joindre à nous tandis que nous manifesterons notre solidarité à nos collègues enseignantes et enseignants en Turquie

QUAND :  De 16 h à 17 h 30, le mercredi 5 octobre, Journée mondiale des enseignantes et des enseignants

OÙ : Ambassade de la République turque, 197, rue Wurtemberg (près de la rivière Rideau)

POURQUOI : Pour manifester notre solidarité aux plus de 28 000 éducatrices et éducateurs turcs qui ont été suspendus, comme des dizaines de milliers d’autres citoyennes et citoyens. Dans la foulée du coup d’État raté du 15 juillet, la Turquie punit le corps enseignant et d’autres travailleurs et travailleuses du secteur public.

Envoyons collectivement un message à la République turque pour qu’elle respecte les principes démocratiques et les droits de la personne, et que ses militaires abandonnent leurs mesures illicites pour imposer le bâillon et abolir les droits des citoyens et citoyennes.

Envoyons aussi un message à notre gouvernement fédéral pour qu’il fasse pression sur les autorités turques afin qu’elles observent et protègent les droits de la personne et les libertés fondamentales, dont la liberté d’expression et la liberté pédagogique.

QUI : Les membres du personnel enseignant, les professeures et professeurs d’université, les représentantes et représentants syndicaux, les personnes qui se vouent à la défense des droits de la personne

Manifestation organisée par la Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants, l’Association canadienne des professeures et professeurs d’université et les organisations affiliées à l’Internationale de l’Éducation.

Télécharger l’affiche – PDF, 158 Ko

Manif à Ottawa