Roundup of blogs and research – September 12, 2016

Are Universities Worth It?

Last week the British university system offered a record number of places. That sounds like good news — but do we really need more people to go to university? For that matter, does the world need more universities?…

China Focus: Xi Thanks Nation’s Teachers, Stresses Role of Education

To mark China’s 32nd Teachers’ Day, which falls on Sept. 10 every year, President Xi Jinping on Friday took a trip down memory lane and visited his old school. He took the opportunity of Teachers’ Day to extend his appreciation to the country’s educators for their diligence and commitment…

Raising Reading Scores in Cambodia

Drawing upon World Bank financing and expertise since 2005, Cambodia has conducted national assessments in reading. Based on test results, Cambodia made the teaching of reading a national priority, leading to the training of 24,577 teachers, the publication of two Khmer-language text books, and almost all Grade Eights students nationwide capable of reading and comprehending text…

Raising Reading Scores in Cambodia [Slideshow]

Literacy, the ability to read and write, allows people to access information, increase their productivity, and achieve their full potential. Research has shown that early literacy is a threshold which countries must pass to grow economically. Emerging from years of political turmoil, Cambodia needed to improve language acquisition, especially in the early school grades. A rethink in how reading was taught, teacher training, and national assessments raised reading results…

ASEAN Announces Joint-plan to tackle Out-of-school Children Problem

Yesterday, ASEAN adopted its first declaration on out-of-school children, part of a wider strategy to ensure that all girls and boys in the region complete primary and secondary education by 2030…

ASEAN Declaration on Strengthening Education for out-of-school Children and Youth (OOSCY)

WE, the Heads of State and Government of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (hereinafter referred to as “ASEAN”), namely Brunei Darussalam, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Republic of Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Malaysia, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Singapore, the Kingdom of Thailand and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, gathering hereby at the 28th ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Lao PDR; REAFFIRMING our commitment to the ASEAN Community comprised of three pillars, namely ASEAN Political Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, as called for by our leaders at the 12th ASEAN Summit on 13 January 2007; Download the full Declaration Here.

Beyond Passion: A Teacher Strives to Make Pre-School Enjoyable for Children in Rural Vietnam

Bumpy and slippery roads cannot stop young Dao minority group children in Lao Cai Province, Vietnam, from going to kindergarten. At school, they play with friends, learn new things, and get to know their surroundings, proving that early childhood education is one of the best investments a country can make…

Papua New Guinea: Improving Literacy in Bougainville, One Step at a Time

After a two-hour drive from the nearest main road, our 4WD can travel no further; me and my travelling companions will have to trek the rest of our journey to Aravira Primary School in Bougainville on foot. As we set off, a group of students from the school emerge from the bush in front of us. They smile, extend their hands in welcome and immediately offer to take my backpack…

Improving Literacy in Remote Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, One Step at a Time  (YouTube video)

Each day, kids at the remote Aravira Primary School walk for over two hours to get to class. Thanks to the World Bank READ PNG program, and dedicated teachers who walked muddy and slippery roads with learning materials, they now have new books with which to improve their reading skills and learn about the world beyond their village…

Ditching the Stigma of Vocational Education

As his former middle school classmates trudged off to begin high school classes after the summer holidays, Ma Xufeng didn’t join them.  The 15-year-old is enrolled in a relatively new government pilot program that puts eligible students on a consecutive seven-year vocational training and university study.  Chinese parents don’t normally like to send children to vocational schools in lieu of high school because they fear that diminished chances of getting into university. Vocational schools have long been relegated to the B-list of education — places for those who aren’t academically gifted…

Education for People and Planet: Creating Sustainable Futures for All

The 2016 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report

The planet Earth is in a dire state. Natural resources have been overexploited. A significant loss of biodiversity is occurring while a massive rise of carbon levels is leading to climate change and associated extreme weather. Toxic substances are increasingly found in air, water, soil, and flora and fauna. The planet faces desertification, drought and land degradation. Human living conditions have not fared much better. Even though the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined by over 1 billion, disparities between rich and poor continue to rise. Oxfam recently reported that the world’s richest 62people possess as much wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion. Too many people are trapped in poverty, and lack clean air and drinking water as well as adequate food and nutrition. Many families are forcibly displaced or on the run due to protracted conflict. Wide disparities persist in access to education of good quality. It is out of these concerns that the concept of sustainable development was born…

Education at a Glance 2016

OECD Indicators

Available from September 15, 2016 11:30

Education at a Glance is the authoritative source for information on the state of education around the world. It provides key information on the output of educational institutions; the impact of learning across countries; the financial and human resources invested in education; access, participation and progression in education; and the learning environment and organisation of schools…

The School System is Already Loaded in Favour of Middle Class Families – Open up Private Tuition to Poor Pupils

Many middle class families hire private tutors to give their children a leg up in the education arms race. Their extra investment gives better off children further advantage in a school system already loaded in their favour. Today’s new Sutton Trust report, Shadow Schooling, details for the first time the extent of tutoring. It shows not only that a quarter of all children have received private tuition at some stage, but that one in 10 did so last year. Nearly half of all state school teachers have supplemented their income by offering private lessons. And the industry is calculated to be worth up to £2 billion a year…

Why Singapore Comes Top of the Class in Education

The school bell rings but the day is far from over for 12-year-old Fang, who hurries off to the canteen for a quick lunch before rushing back to class for supplementary lessons…

The Importance of Literacy

Officially proclaimed 50 years ago by UNESCO to promote literacy as an instrument of empowerment, today is International Literacy Day. It is also the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Sustainable Development Goal 4 aims to ensure that by 2030 everyone at the very least achieves literacy…

Returns to ICT Skills

How important is mastering information and communication technology (ICT) in modern labor markets? We answer this question with unique data on ICT skills tested in 19 countries. Our two instrumental-variable models exploit technologically induced variation in broadband Internet availability that gives rise to variation in ICT skills across countries and German municipalities. We find that a one-standard-deviation increase in ICT skills raises earnings by about 25 percent. Exogenous broadband availability cannot explain numeracy or literacy skills, suggesting that estimated returns are unaffected by general ability. One mechanism driving positive returns is selection into occupations with high abstract task content…

New Study Looks at Why More Children Lack Access to Books and How We Can Change That

Report highlights the potential of a transformative new mechanism to boost literacy outcomes and tackle issues across the supply chain for books…

Companies would benefit from Helping Introverts to Thrive

MOST companies worry about discriminating against their employees on the basis of race, gender or sexual preference. But they give little thought to their shabby treatment of introverts. Carl Jung spotted the distinction between introverts and extroverts in 1921. Psychometric tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator consistently show that introverts make up between a third and a half of the population. Susan Cain’s book on their plight, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking”, has sold more than 2m copies; the TED talk based on the book has been viewed just over 14m times. And yet, if anything, the corporate approach to introverts has been getting worse.

The biggest culprit is the fashion for open-plan offices and so-called “group work”. Companies rightly think that the elixir of growth in a world where computers can do much of the grunt work is innovation. But they wrongly conclude that the best way to encourage creativity is to knock down office walls and to hold incessant meetings. This is ill-judged for a number of reasons. It rests on a trite analogy between intellectual and physical barriers between people. It ignores the fact that noise and interruptions make it harder to concentrate. And companies too often forget that whereas extroverts gain energy from other people, introverts need time on their own to recharge.

The recent fashion for hyper-connectedness also reinforces an ancient prejudice against introverts when it comes to promotion. Many companies unconsciously identify leadership skills with extroversion—that is, a willingness to project the ego, press the flesh and prattle on in public. This suggests that Donald Trump is the beau idéal of a great manager. Yet in his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins, a management guru, suggests that the chief executives who stay longest at the top of their industries tend to be quiet and self-effacing types. They are people who put their companies above their egos and frequently blend into the background.

Many of the most successful founders and chief executives in the technology industry, such as Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, are introverts who might have floundered in the extroverted culture of IBM, with its company songs and strong emphasis on team-bonding. In penalising other people like them, firms are passing over or sidelining potential leaders. At all levels of company hierarchies, that means failing to take full advantage of employees’ abilities.

What can companies do to make life better for introverts? At the very least, managers should provide private office space and quiet areas where they can recharge. Firms need to recognise that introverts bring distinctive skills to their jobs. They may talk less in meetings, but they tend to put more thought into what they say. Leaders should look at their organisations through the introverts’ eyes. Does the company hold large meetings where the loudest voices prevail? That means that it is marginalising introverts. Does it select recruits mainly on the basis of how they acquit themselves in interviews? That could be blinding it to people who dislike performing in public.

Some of the cleverest companies are beginning to look at these problems. Amazon has radically overhauled its meetings to make them more focused. Every meeting begins in silence. Those attending must read a six-page memo on the subject of the meeting before they open their mouths. This shifts the emphasis from people’s behaviour in the meeting to focused discussion of the memo’s contents. Google has downplayed the importance of interviews in recruiting and put more emphasis on candidates’ ability to carry out tasks like the ones that they will have to do at the firm, such as writing code or solving technical problems.

Managers cannot be on top of the very latest research on personality types. Nonetheless, they should pay more attention to the way that groups of people interact when it comes to designing teams. One study that looked at operations lower down an organisation shows that extroverts are better at managing workers if the employees are just expected to carry out orders, but those who tend towards introversion are better if the workers are expected to think for themselves.

Extrovert five times a day

Introverts must also work harder at adapting to corporate life, since work is essentially social. They could communicate over the keyboard rather than in meetings, or by arranging smaller gatherings rather than rejecting them altogether. This is important for climbing the ladder. Karl Moore of McGill University in Montreal, who has asked over 200 CEOs about introversion on the radio show he hosts, says that introverts who make it to the top usually learn how to behave like extroverts for some of the time. Claude Mongeau, the former CEO of Canadian National Railway, for example, set himself the goal of acting like an extrovert five times a day. In any case, the majority of people are on a spectrum of introversion to extroversion. Mr Moore thinks that quieter people can make as much impact as full extroverts, if they give themselves time to recharge. He sets his students the task of “networking like an introvert” or “networking like an extrovert” to broaden their perspectives.

In “Quiet”, Ms Cain concludes that business has long been dominated by an “extrovert ideal”, thanks to a succession of corporate fashions—whether the 1950s model of the “organisation man”, who thrived by asserting himself in meetings and inside teams, or today’s fad for constant communication. Fortunately, some trends do now push in the other direction. The field of technology, an industry where introverts are common, has made it easier for everyone to communicate at a distance. The aim of enlightened management is not to tilt an extrovert-oriented company rapidly towards the introverts. It is to create a new kind of firm, in which introverts, extroverts and all the in-betweeners are equally likely to flourish. Call it the ambivert organisation.


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