OSI-ESP News July-August 2008

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Study on survey of attitudes towards exam reforms in selected post-socialist countries

A study entitled “Results of a survey of attitudes towards the reform of examination systems in selected post-socialist countries of Europe” has been published by the Centre for Testing Technologies in Ukraine as part of a project on assessing increasing quality, equal opportunities and accountability in education. The project was supported by the RE:FINE program of the Education Support Program of the Open Society Institute. The project organized an assessment network of 16 countries in order to facilitate the exchange of experience and best practices on assessment issues among education stakeholders, and raise capacity of agencies and experts working in the area of assessment.

The main purpose of this survey was to allow interested members of the assessment network to gather information about the understanding of and the attitudes towards their centralized examination systems and current reforms in this area. The survey examined two questions: the level of understanding of current examination procedures and the level of any recent or ongoing reforms; and the attitudes of stakeholders towards examinations, especially where new examinations have been introduced or traditional assessment systems are under reforming. Five countries volunteered to take part in the survey: Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Ukraine. The report may be useful for policy makers at all levels, assessment and examinations agencies, headmasters, secondary school teachers and parents.

The report is available in English at http://www.soros.org/initiatives/esp/articles_publications/….

For more information please contact: Anna Toropova, ttcmeq@rambler.ru

Following up EUMAP monitoring activities in Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia

The dire situation of Romani children in education has been detailed in the series of EUMAP monitoring reports on Equal Access to Quality Education for Roma, carried out in cooperation with the ESP (Education Support program) and RPP (Roma Participation Program) of the Open Society Institute.

The series includes individual country reports and a regional overview. The reports are available in both English and the local languages, and can be downloaded athttp://www.eumap.org/topics/romaed. EUMAP monitoring is aimed at sparking advocacy activities, and the reports are now being used in a number of national follow-up projects in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Slovakia.

In Bulgaria, a new budgeting system poses challenges to the implementation of the report’s recommendations, and offers both opportunities and perils which many of the actors who will carry out the reform are not sufficiently aware of. With that in mind, the Bulgarian partner organizations are undertaking a number of separate advocacy activities.

In Hungary, EUMAP’s partner, the Jászsági Polgárjogi Szervezet (JPS) visits Romani communities to raise awareness among parents about the importance of quality education, uncover cases of discrimination, and build partnerships between local administrative and civil organizations and marginalized groups.

The team in Slovakia has continued to update the monitoring reports, and has added a new component to the monitoring: it will review activities undertaken to address the same issues by non-governmental organizations. It is expected that projects in other participating countries will be developed and begin implementation before the end of 2008. If you wish to learn more about the follow up projects, please go to:http://www.eumap.org/topics/minority/reports/roma_education/followup.

Russian NGO Intercentre launches North Caucasus cross-cultural understanding and peace initiative

The NGO Intercentre in Russia will launch a two-year project, “Cross-cultural understanding and peace in the North Caucasus,” aiming to consolidate and disseminate the expertise gained during projects run in the North Caucasus in the area of cross-cultural school ethos, prevention of violence and bullying in schools. The work builds on the legacy of the North Caucasus Education Initiative (NCEI) run by the British Council in 2005-2007 and aims to increase the number of schools with tolerant multicultural ethos in the republics which participated in NCEI: North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Ingushetia as well as roll out the expertise of such schools into three new republics of North Caucasus: Dagestan, Adygeia and Chechnya.

The project will include a series of training sessions for schools and create an in-service training program which will be piloted and then used by local authorities. Another thrust of the project is to create a facility for children of different ethnicities of the North Caucasus. The project will encourage schools to develop school transformation plans in which multicultural school policies will be identified.

The leading partners in the project will be the Moscow School of Socio-Economic Studies, the education ministries of North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Ingushetia, the Krasnoyarsk Institute of Developmental Pedagogy and the parents of children in participating schools.

For more information, please contact Elena Lenskaya, Head of Projects and Development Unit,lenskaya@universitas.ru; or Svetlana Kuzmina, PR@universitas.ru.

“Škola, ktorej to myslí” (Schools that think) project focused on independent learning and critical thinking in progress in Slovakia

Today the ability to learn independently and critically evaluate increasing amounts of ever-changing information is crucial for individual success. As schools play an essential role in preparation for life, education must promote and develop independent learning and develop students’ ability to solve problems and make decisions, formulate and express opinions, respect different opinions, and be open to lifelong learning.

Slovakia’s ongoing educational reform takes these ideas into account. Since April 2007, an initiative by the NGO Orava Association for Democratic Education has been helping schools implement these ideas in practice. The project began in primary schools and consists of a training program employing a framework for learning and thinking that introduces a number of interactive teaching strategies and methods to school staff. These methods help involve students in a learning process in which they are able to critically evaluate the information they receive.

In the first phase of the project, set to run for two years, eight model schools representing administrative regions were selected. Their staffs took part in intensive training which focused on innovative methods of teaching and learning. The trained teachers will pass their knowledge on to other schools. By the end of the first phase, 1000 teachers from 32 basic schools attended by 13,000 students will be trained.

In a similar project for high schools, staff from six pilot schools will be trained beginning in September 2008.

The project is supported by the Central European Foundation (www.cef.sk) in cooperation with Slovnaft (www.slovnaft.sk). For more information: Marcela Maslova, Orava Association for Democratic Education, Slovakia. Email: marcelam@projectorava.sk.

Monitoring the social budget in Turkey

The Education Reform Initiative (ERI), together with six other Turkish NGOs and think-tanks (Agenda: Child!, Association for Support and Training of Women Candidates, Bilgi University Children Studies, Bilgi University Youth Studies, Bogaziçi University Social Policy Forum, and Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation) has joined a newly formed platform whose mission is to monitor the social component of the public budget. The platform’s first move was to examine the Medium Term Program (2009-2011) prepared by the State Planning Organization with respect to its objective in the social domain, including education, health, poverty reduction, women’s affairs, youth and children’s issues. The platform emphasizes equally accessible quality social services in a framework set by human rights standards. The platform will continue its monitoring activities by examining the Medium Term Financial Plan for the 2009-2011 period.

For more information please contact Özsel Beleli at ozsel@sabanciuniv.edu.

Upcoming conference

German-Turkish Summer Academy for Teachers

The Education Reform Initiative (ERI-Istanbul, Turkey) and Herbert Quandt-Stiftung (Bad Homburg, Germany) were the co-organizers of the German-Turkish Summer Academy for Teachers held in Istanbul on July 20-27, 2008. The objective of the meeting was to create a platform for teachers where they could develop their understanding of and skills for intercultural dialogue and education. The activities of the academy of 19 teachers included presentations, panels and workhops on intercultural education, and the interaction of gender, education and religion.

For more information please contact Işik Tüzün at isiktuzun@sabanciuniv.edu.


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