When crisis for many means opportunity for some: Private profit and the education of Syrian refugees

By Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary, Education International

The war in Syria has been on the front pages of newspapers for six years now. We have witnessed the plight of those who flee, the long winters in refugee camp tents. But little is said about the fate of refugee children when it comes to their education. Do they have schools to go to? Who teaches them?facebook_Arabic

A new study answers these questions. “Investing in the Crisis: Private Participation in the Education of Syrian Refugees”, conducted by Francine Menashy and Zeena Zakharia from the University of Massachusetts, examines the situation of 900,000 refugee Syrian children who are out of school in their host countries, with enrolment rates ranging from 70 percent in Jordan to 40 percent in Lebanon and 39 percent in Turkey.

Clearly, there is a deficit in access to education for refugee children – and private providers are actively engaging in that space. Naomi Klein, who coined the term ‘disaster capitalism’, outlined how the private sector is quick to respond whenever a crisis or natural disaster strikes. However, in the case of education in such emergencies, little has been known about the scope and aims of private engagement.

This report highlights a surge in private actor involvement in the Middle East since 2015, with 144 non-state actors currently engaged in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. This includes 46 businesses and 15 private foundations, the majority of which have their headquarters in the global north, and 61 percent of which do not have education as their primary mandate.

What other drivers apart from education pull private investment into the region?

In their study, Menashy and Zakharia explore the nature of private sector involvement in the education of Syrian refugees. The study raises questions about the profit motive driving these actors which may be at odds with what is best for refugee children, including their right to quality education. Furthermore, part of the new trend of ‘philanthrocapitalism’, which is increasingly influencing education policies and programmes, is the involvement of private companies in the education of Syrian refugees which may contribute to undermining democratic governance and accountability in education that was once inextricably linked to social dialogue and legislative processes.

While the intervention of private actors may be unavoidable in certain crisis contexts, the study unveils clear areas of concern. Private actors on the ground seem to be insufficiently coordinated, leading to imbalances and duplication of services – a situation which is worsened through inadequate communication between the private actors and the state.

The authors also highlight that private stakeholders often overemphasise the role and presence of technology in education. This emphasis on ICT is questionable given the scarcity of resources, with schools often lacking the most basic infrastructure and tools. Do children need tablets when they have no benches to sit on, no toilets to go to at school? In this regard, governments are well advised to seek and consider the expert voice of teachers and their unions – a vital part of a humanitarian response in education – to ensure that interventions are contextualised and appropriate for the reality in the classroom.

Lastly, the engagement of private actors in Syrian refugee education is translating into political influence, where numerous businesses are becoming key decision-makers in refugee education policymaking. This influence can and will promote an increase in the private provision of education and non-formal education environments. This is deeply problematic due to the overall lack of accountability in terms of educational quality and equity, as previous studies commissioned by Education International have shown.

This report lays bare the undeniable obligation of all governments to ensure that the rights of all children, including refugee children, are met. This includes the provision of free inclusive and equitable quality public education. Beyond this, governments are also required to regulate the involvement of private actors within clear legal frameworks addressing the commercialisation of education in fragile settings. We must challenge the exploitation of those in need. Seeking to profit from those in need cannot be labelled as anything but unethical.

Why is it so hard to close the gender wage gap?

By Kate McInturff

The wage gap is pretty easy to understand. I do a job. You do a job. I get paid more. You get paid less. Unfair. Especially if you and I have the same training, work the same hours, and perform the same kind of tasks. And yet, the gender wage gap persists, right here in Canada, even when education, occupation, experience, and hours of work are considered. The gap is even bigger for Indigenous women, racialized women, immigrant women, and women with disabilities.

Still skeptical? Consider McMaster University. They looked at men and women doing exactly the same job (university professor), at the same place, adjusted for years of work, number of publications, tenure, and rank and they still found that women were paid less than men. More than $3,000 a year less.

So the wage gap is a real thing. And it’s pretty easy to understand that it’s not fair. So why is this problem so hard to fix?

Continue Reading (Behind the Numbers, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives):

Kate McInturff is a senior researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

International Women’s Day – Bill 75 Setback

By Pamela Langille – NSTU

On March 8 we celebrate International Women’s Day. This is a time to take stock of the trials and tribulations we have suffered in seeking equality for women throughout history and reflect on the ongoing struggles of today as we try to progress toward social justice. While there is a great deal of success to celebrate in the women’s liberation movement, it is imperative that we acknowledge the setbacks at our midst. Just recently, the current government passed Bill 75 and imposed a legislated contract on public school teachers. Make no mistake, the austerity measures used in Nova Scotia by the current government and by many other governments around the country and continent, disproportionately harm women.

While seemingly insidious at first glance, the harmful effects of the ongoing attacks on teachers and the public sector are clearly also attacks on women. Teachers, along with other public sector workers, are predominantly women. In Nova Scotia, women compose 77 percent of the teachers in public schools and close to 70 percent of all public sector jobs. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) Nova Scotia Budget Watch 2015: Through a Gender Lens document stated that these public sector jobs:

  • represent quality jobs, where pay is on average higher than private sector jobs, with smaller pay equity gaps;
  • are unionized and provide good benefits to women including extended health and maternity benefits. In addition, more women in the public sector have pensions (two thirds, as opposed to only one third in the private sector); and,
  • make valuable contributions to the common good.

The gains of the public sector and women are under attack and while these austerity measures will negatively affect everyone, they will indeed affect women disproportionately.

Unfortunately, instead of the government acting in the public interest by seeking to protect public sector employment, women’s civil and political rights, and increase support for public services to provide quality services that will benefit everyone, along with those who need them most, the government acted in the contrary, and has actually exacerbated inequalities and set back the status of women in Nova Scotia. If the austerity agenda was not harmful enough, the government’s approach to move forward with its agenda was laced with the vilification of teachers and actions that undermine the teaching profession.

When reflecting upon the Minister’s Action Plan and how the current government first began its ‘relationship’ with the teaching profession in this province, I liken it to the words of Sabrina Joy Stevens, who wrote in her blog titled ‘Bad’ Women, Teachers, and Politics: “To recap a few years’ worth of disinformation: Teachers, you may have heard, will determine and (especially) economic future of our entire nation. And because we have so many of these bad, lazy (read: unionized) teachers, our students have performed miserably compared to those in other countries, struggled with a persistent racial “achievement” gap and more, threatening the very future of America. All this they’ve done while enjoying lavish pay, benefits and pensions that have bankrupted our budgets.” Stevens continues, “Just as with the ‘ideal’ woman in a broader sense, there is much praise lavished on the ‘ideal’ teacher, who quietly, unobtrusively and selflessly does her work. But when teachers try to have a voice in the decisions that affect them, or advocate for better pay and working conditions, they’re derided as being selfish.”

When the profession is 77 percent women, there is no need to specify women teachers for the image in people’s minds to be women, as the vilification portrays teachers as overpaid, incompetent, incapable of leadership, and selfish. And certainly let us not forget the drain these teachers [women] have on our economy and the tax payers of Nova Scotia as their Union advocates for fair remuneration and working conditions, which become easier to dismiss when demonized as greedy and unsustainable by the government.

The unionization of workplaces, and especially predominantly female workplaces, is a milestone in women’s civil and political rights, and must not be taken for granted. The attack on unions is real, as we have experienced right here at home with the government’s austerity agenda. Canada is categorized as a high-income country and in high-income countries, the majority of women are employed in the health and education sector. “[This] overrepresentation of women in health and education may be attributed to social assumptions which undervalue the skills required for such jobs. For instance, education – and in particular the teaching of younger children – is considered an extension of women’s traditional, maternal role.” Perhaps these assumptions are also influencing the fallible narrative of the current government that teachers [women] needed to be “put in their place” with Bill 75. After all, it was not just “teachers” who needed to be put in their place, but all of the predominately female public sector.

While the rhetoric often used to justify such austerity measures tries to mask itself as gender-neutral and stick to a message of fiscal sustainability and the need for the public sector to compensate for the province’s “fiscal woes,” this is not only presumptuous, but it is simply untrue. As Jordan Brennan outlines in the CCPA document, Growth, Austerity and the Future of Nova Scotia Prosperity, the province’s public spending does not need to be ‘reined in’: “Nova Scotia has more fiscal room than other Atlantic provinces, and it is in the top half of the Canadian federation when it comes to its account balance.” Not only are austerity measures unnecessary in our current economic state, but the evidence presented by Jordan Brennan suggests they “do more economic damage and social harm than good.”

It is important we remind ourselves that the rhetoric of today has a deeply rooted past that many before us have fought against. Our current voice that challenges the government’s rhetoric has been echoed throughout history. At the 1938 National Education Association Convention in the United States, it was stated that “We have to realize that it is not our educational system alone that counts, but educational systems in all the countries of the world…Good education costs money; people do not like taxes, and sometimes the political leaders see no connection between education and future prosperity.” As disheartening as the sluggish progress can sometimes be, we must also not forget that we have roots just as deep and in solidarity we will persevere. The
struggle for both social justice and a quality public education is something that we must not forget is ongoing and will not progress without challenge from organized workers. Anti-union actions by governments will continue since they know, all too well, it is only those people who are organized, and fighting in solidarity, that will have the force to break the barriers before us. Just as the saying goes, ‘together we bargain, divided we beg.


Brennan, J. (2016). Growth, Austerity and the Future of Nova Scotian Prosperity. Canadian
Centre for Policy Alternatives Nova Scotia Office. Retrieved from

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Nova Scotia Office. (2015). Nova Scotia Budget Watch
2015: Through a Gender Lens
. Retrieved from

Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action. (2015). Canada: Women’s Civil and Political Rights. Retrieved from http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/

International Labour Organization. (2016). Women at Work: Trends 2016. Retrieved from

Stevens, S. J. (2012). ‘Bad’ Women, Teachers, and Politics. Retrieved from

The Editors of Rethinking Schools. (2012). The New Misogyny: What It Means for Teachers and
. Retrieved from

Digital surveillance detrimental to learning, expert says

Digital monitoring of students’ and teachers’ online activities is having a negative effect on learning in Canadian classrooms.

That was one of the messages conveyed during a one-day workshop entitled Privacy Implications in the Networked Classroom, which took place at Barnett House on Thursday, Jan. 26.

Among the lineup of expert speakers was Valerie Steeves, a University of Ottawa researcher who specializes in human rights and technology issues.

“The super surveillance that students experience in the networked classroom is bad for learning, precisely because the ability to retreat and to enjoy privacy from the teacher and from peers is an essential part of the learning process,” Steeves said.

Continue Reading (ATA News, The Alberta Teachers’ Association):

By Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor

OP-ED: We need to work together to improve our education system

nstu_colourDecember 7, 2016

I just want to take this opportunity to thank Nova Scotians for the outpouring of support teachers have received this past week. At rallies across the province, inside and outside of schools and on-line, the many kind and thoughtful words expressed have been heartening to the NSTU’s 9,300 public school members.

Monday was a difficult day for students and their families, and it was a sad day for teachers. All teachers are committed to providing a safe and healthy learning environment, and the government’s decision to lock out students created an unnecessary burden for parents.

It was because of the thousands who spoke up for teachers, that government reversed course, and allowed students to go back to school.

Teachers want better learning conditions, safer schools and more time to spend helping students instead of doing paperwork. We also have a right to a fair collective bargaining process, something we have been denied by the current government.

It’s for these reasons that earlier this fall 96% of our members voted in support of job action, and it’s why we are currently working-to-rule.

It’s going to take everyone working together to make our education system the best it can be. It’s going to take a lot of change – big and small – to make Nova Scotia’s future strong. We want to talk. We want to listen. But if it takes working-to-rule to accomplish needed investments, we’ve demonstrated we are willing to take that step.

We also want the ability to negotiate for better classroom conditions at the bargaining table. Our children’s future is too important to be wagered on political commitments. Teachers want to see positive measures enshrined so they can’t be taken away with the strike of a pen from the government.

Right now our primary objective is to get back to the bargaining table in order to reach a new agreement that is fair to students, teachers and families. We have been frustrated by the government’s lack of willingness to bargain in good faith, as I’m sure you are frustrated by the lack of a resolution to this situation.

Ultimately, teachers are taking this stand for a better education system. Hopefully soon, the government will come to the table willing to negotiate and not dictate so an agreement can be reached.

Liette Doucet


For more information, contact:

Angela Murray, PR coordinator, Nova Scotia Teachers Union
902- 479-4708, 902-497-0194 (cell)
amurray@nstu.ca @NSTeachersUnion

Download PDF version (298 KB)

PM and First Ministers urged to focus on child and youth mental health

In a December 1st letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation urged him and the Premiers to focus on child and youth mental health at their First Ministers’ Meeting on December 9, 2016, in Ottawa. Child and youth mental health has been identified as a top priority by Canadian teachers from across Canada.

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December 1, 2016

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Langevin Block
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister,

As you prepare for the upcoming First Ministers’ meeting and the rich dialogue at this important gathering, I am writing on behalf of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) to urge a focus on child and youth mental health. In 2014, CTF surveyed over 5000 Canadian teachers regarding their top priorities; 95% of respondents rated child and youth mental health as their top concern. This is a staggering, yet all too believable, response that should not be ignored.

When you meet the First Ministers, CTF asks you, on behalf of the 231,000 teachers we represent and the millions of students they teach, to provide for adequate mental health care for children and youth in a renewed Health Accord. At the present time, despite Canada’s relative international prosperity and progressive values, many Canadian communities lack adequate resources to provide the preventative and interceptive resources needed to support child and youth mental health and well-being. In isolated communities and for minority populations, the challenges are often further exacerbated by distance, linguistic barriers, and lack of understanding about culture or group.

CTF and its provincial and territorial Member organizations would welcome the opportunity to participate with governments at all levels in discussions about improvements to mental health services for children and youth. Children and youth in Canada have a right to health care and that must include readily accessible mental health care.

In 2012, in collaboration with the Mental Health Commission of Canada, CTF explored the issue of mental health and well-being in schools through a pan-Canadian survey. Over 3,900 teachers responded to the survey including 2,324 elementary school teachers and 1,603 secondary school teachers. The purpose of the survey was to gain a better understanding of the classroom teacher perspective on issues related to student mental health and well-being in Canadian schools, including factors that act as potential barriers to the provision of mental health services for students in their schools (such as stigma for example).

Barriers identified in the 2012 CTF survey included the following:

  • 85% of teachers agreed that a lack of funding for school-based mental health services was a potential barrier, including 59% who “strongly” agreed;
  • 78% of teachers agreed that an insufficient number of community-based mental health professionals was a potential barrier, including 45% who “strongly” agreed;
  • Three quarters of teachers (75%) agreed that a lack of coordinated services between the school and community was a potential barrier, including 38% who “strongly” agreed;
  • Two thirds of teachers (67%) agreed that a lack of referral options in the community was a potential barrier, including 34% who “strongly” agreed.

One teacher respondent summed up the situation we know too well:

  • It is sad when you know there is a concern, or the student tells you there is a concern, you’ve followed the proper protocols, and for whatever reason (lack of services, family declines services for child, fear of stigma, etc.) the student does not get the help they need.

CTF and its 17 Member organizations in each province and territory would welcome opportunities for further dialogue and collaboration to help all Canadian children and youth lead healthy lives in order to achieve their full potential. We wish you a very successful First Ministers’ Meeting and sincerely hope that the mental health and well-being of Canadian children and youth will feature prominently in your deliberations and, ultimately, in a new Health Accord.

Yours sincerely,

Heather Smith
President, Canadian Teachers’ Federation

Cc Provincial and Territorial Premiers
CTF Board of Directors

Justin Trudeau et ses homologues des provinces et des territoires sont pressés d’accorder une attention prioritaire à la santé mentale des enfants et des jeunes

Dans une lettre envoyée le 1er décembre au premier ministre Justin Trudeau, la Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants les a pressés, lui et ses homologues des provinces et des territoires, d’accorder au dossier de la santé mentale des enfants et des jeunes une place centrale dans leurs discussions à la réunion des premiers ministres le 9 décembre 2016, à Ottawa. Les enseignantes et enseignants des quatre coins du Canada ont souligné le besoin de faire de la santé mentale des enfants et des jeunes une grande priorité.

Télécharger la version PDF (240 Ko)

Le 1er décembre 2016

Le très honorable Justin Trudeau, C. P., député
Premier ministre du Canada
Édifice Langevin
Ottawa (Ontario)
K1A 0A2

Monsieur le Premier Ministre,

Tandis que vous vous préparez pour la prochaine réunion des premiers ministres des provinces et des territoires et le riche et important échange qu’elle promet, je vous écris au nom de la Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants (FCE) pour vous demander d’accorder une place centrale au dossier de la santé mentale chez les enfants et les jeunes. En 2014, la FCE a mené un sondage auprès de plus de 5 000 membres du corps enseignant au Canada pour connaître leurs priorités. Au total, 95 % d’entre eux ont indiqué que la santé mentale des enfants et des jeunes était au sommet de leurs préoccupations. Sans équivoque, cette réponse n’a malheureusement rien d’étonnant et ne doit pas être ignorée.

Quand vous rencontrerez les premiers ministres des provinces et des territoires, la FCE vous demande, au nom des 231 000 enseignantes et enseignants qu’elle représente et des millions d’élèves dont ils s’occupent, de vous engager, dans un accord renouvelé sur la santé, à offrir des soins de santé mentale adéquats aux enfants et aux jeunes. À l’heure actuelle, malgré la relative prospérité du Canada sur la scène internationale et ses valeurs progressistes, de nombreuses communautés au pays ne disposent pas des ressources qui leur permettent de mettre en place les mesures de prévention et d’intervention dont les enfants et les jeunes ont besoin pour leur bien-être et leur bonne santé mentale. Dans les communautés isolées et chez les populations minoritaires, les difficultés sont en plus exacerbées par la distance, les barrières linguistiques et une incompréhension de leur culture ou de leur groupe.

La FCE et ses organisations Membres provinciales et territoriales seraient enchantées de participer avec tous les ordres de gouvernement aux discussions pour améliorer les services de santé mentale à l’intention des enfants et des jeunes. Ces derniers ont droit à des services de santé et cela doit comprendre des services de santé mentale facilement accessibles.

En 2012, en collaboration avec la Commission de la santé mentale du Canada, la FCE a exploré les questions liées à la santé mentale et au bien-être des élèves dans les écoles au moyen d’un sondage pancanadien. Plus de 3 900 membres du personnel enseignant ont répondu au sondage, dont 2 324 enseignantes et enseignants de l’élémentaire et 1 603 du secondaire. Le sondage avait pour but de mieux faire comprendre les points de vue du personnel enseignant en salle de classe sur la question de la santé mentale et du bien-être des élèves, y compris les facteurs qui constituent des obstacles potentiels à la prestation de services de santé mentale aux élèves de leur école (p. ex. la stigmatisation).

Parmi les obstacles signalés figuraient les suivants :

  • Au total, 85 % des répondants et répondantes étaient d’accord pour dire que le manque de financement pour les services de santé mentale offerts à l’école constituait un obstacle potentiel, y compris 59 % qui étaient « fortement » d’accord;
  • En tout, 78 % des enseignantes et enseignants étaient d’accord pour dire que le nombre insuffisant de professionnelles et professionnels de la santé mentale dans la communauté constituait un obstacle potentiel, y compris 45 % qui étaient « fortement » d’accord;
  • Les trois quarts des sujets interrogés (75 %) étaient d’accord pour dire que le manque de coordination des services entre l’école et la communauté constituait un obstacle potentiel et, parmi eux, 38 % étaient « fortement » d’accord;
  • Les deux tiers des enseignantes et enseignants (67 %) étaient d’accord pour dire que le manque de possibilités de renvoi à des services dans la communauté constituait un obstacle potentiel, y compris 34 % qui étaient « fortement » d’accord.

Une enseignante a résumé la situation très clairement :

  • C’est triste de savoir qu’il y a un problème ou de l’apprendre de la bouche d’un élève, de suivre le protocole mis en place et de découvrir que, pour une raison ou une autre (manque de services, refus des services par la famille, peur de la stigmatisation, etc.), l’élève ne reçoit pas l’aide dont il a besoin.

La FCE et ses 17 organisations Membres de chacune des provinces et chacun des territoires seraient heureuses de poursuivre le dialogue et la collaboration afin que tous les enfants et les jeunes du Canada puissent mener des vies saines et atteindre leur plein potentiel. Pour finir, nous vous souhaitons une réunion très fructueuse avec les autres premiers ministres et espérons sincèrement que le dossier des services de santé mentale pour les enfants et les jeunes recevra toute l’attention qu’il mérite dans vos délibérations et un éventuel accord renouvelé sur la santé.

Je vous prie d’agréer, Monsieur le Premier Ministre, l’assurance de ma considération distinguée.

La présidente de la Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants,
Heather Smith

c.c. Premiers ministres des provinces et des territoires
Membres du Conseil d’administration de la FCE

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