Notes: Comparisons of EdGlo countries’ education systems

The cultural knowledge and varied experiences brought by the international students is what makes this Education and Globalisation master’s programme so unique. While the programme itself is comprehensive and the lecturers are knowledgeable and thought-provoking, much of our learning comes from each other.

The 20 people in our class come from 19 very different countries:  Kurdistan with Finnish citizenship, the United States, United States-Taiwan, China (2x), South Korea, Australia, Australia-United Kingdom dual citizenship, Kenya, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Ghana, New Zealand (I’m the first Kiwi!), Canada, Finland, Iran and India.

Our common language is English, but only six of us are mother-tongue speakers. We range in age from about 23 – 53, and the majority of us have a background in teaching.

Last week’s assignment for the Orientation to Finnish Culture and Education Systems course was to present for 15 minutes about our own countries’ education systems. Two people presented on other international experiences they had – S from Kurdistan-Finland talked about immigrant language support in Finland and R from UK-Aus presented about his time teaching in the West Bank, Palestine.

It was fascinating to learn about the way education is valued and approached differently across the world. In many ways it made me even more grateful for the high quality of education we provide in New Zealand. The comparisons with regard to access, autonomy and corruption etc. made me see even more that my gripes with our system are very “first-world problems”, but at the same time they have made me more firm in my determination to help maintain and improve what we have so that we don’t regress into further inequalities.

I have pasted my notes from my classmates’ presentation sessions below. Because they’re just my notes I took down as they spoke, I don’t have the references for stats etc. that they referred to. If there’s anything you’re especially interested in I can ask for them and pass them on to you though. Some of the detail is anecdotal as it comes from my classmates’ experiences as students and teachers in their home countries. I hope you find this as interesting as we all do!


Alberta province. Basic education structure

  • Provincial jurisdiction of school systems and policies
  • Schools on First Nations land reserves are nationally funded – can be issues with this as they often have fewer or poorer resources. National and provincial govts debate over who is responsible for these inequalities etc.
  • Schooling progression – 6-16yo must attend school. Free until 20yo or once completed senior high school.
  • Standardised tests in grades 3 6, 9.


  • Outdated (oldest published in 1989 when M was born) Science curriculum 1996! Over years updating but in subject areas, e.g. a new social science curriculum but science is old. Makes it very disjointed and difficult to deliver cohesively. Very extensive amount of outcomes, often referred to as “a mile wide and an inch deep”. Very hard to cover everything required while allowing for deeper engagement.
  • Social studies curriculum – Very specific and prescriptive so that every child in province learns exactly the same content. Even in general outcomes it specifies that they must learn about communities in India, Tunisia, Ukraine and Peru. This prescriptive nature can also make it very difficult to report back to parents with. How can you possibly articulate all of the outcomes you would teach in a term?
  • Yay new curriculum announced this year in June for arts, language arts, maths, soc studies, sciences and wellness – to be phased in over the next 6 years.  Will have common design and consistency between subject areas and grade levels.
    • Framework for student learning a little like NZ Curriculum principles, values and key competencies integrated into the subject areas, e.g. engaged thinker, ethical citizen, entrepreneurial spirit. More diverse perspectives, e.g. Francophone, gender and sexual minorities added to health curriculum.


  • Methods of reporting differ from school to school, eg format of report, whether they will be reporting on behavior. Standardised testing grades 6, 9, 12. Provincial achievement test. Summative at end of school year. monitoring of student learning to evaluate how well they’re achieving provincial outcomes. Math, language arts, science and social studies.
    • Showed us some examples of the tests from grade 9. Pretty limited in questioning, difficult to show depth of knowledge and thinking styles etc.
  • Grade 12 diploma exams (3 hours) across core subjects. 30% of final grade (used to be 50%)
  • Now moving away from standardised testing at 3,6 and 9. M was involved in pilot project at her school.
    • A formative assessment early in the school year to evaluate understanding and guide teaching for coming year.
    • No published results so not used to rank schools.
    • Components not based on subjects and more about integrated knowledge and skills, e.g. digital literacy, but would assess reading comprehension and math literacy etc through these tests. In writing projects they would be stepped through planning processes well. In numeracy the questions allow for range of answers and students using pictures, words and or numbers. Marked on a rubric. Problem can make it harder to review for the test at the beginning of the year.


  • Questions about impact of diversity (cultural and socio-economic) on the student pressure and results
    • Canada views parent as highest authority, but some cultures e.g. Nepalese would see teachers as being the highest authority and M would have some parents come to her and ask her to tell their kids not to watch so much TV and others who would question why their kids didn’t have homework in the first week of school. Difficult with ESOL and some coming in at grade 4 with no previous basic education.



Italian constitution 1947 after Fascist regime.

  • Wanted to make it  free for everyone without any discrimination.
  • Freedom of teaching (methodology and content).
  • State funded


  • Compulsory from 6-16yo
  • Nursery/pre-school – 3-6yo
  • Primary 6-11
  • Upper primary 11-14 with assessment at end
  • Upper secondary 14-19 if pass test. Classical and sciences. Otherwise vocational
  • Uni or vocational school.

National assessments:

  • One after upper primary and other after upper secondary
  • In school assessments, planned by each school and on teacher preferences.


  • A lot of homework! Very high pressure in Italy. A lot of anxiety, from primary school. Little focus on emotional and physical health.
  • Strong focus on academics, e.g. Only 2 hours of PE a week.
  • School hours: 8am-2pm or 4pm. 30 hours per week with option on Saturday if they finish at 2pm. Each lesson is 60 mins. Only 15-20 mins break per day.
  • Same classroom classmates and teacher throughout the years – teacher moves from class to class instead.


  • End of each term there’s a report on student attitude and behaviour but most focus on achievement (grading 0-10)


  • Very traditional arrangements in classroom, e.g teacher-student relationships, desk layout.
  • Capacity 20-35.
  • Most schools are urban and so there are very few green spaces.
  • Students don’t really go outside in breaks

Education support

  • Immigrants receive extra-curriculum support in learning Italian and integrated into mainstream.
  • Special needs usually in mainstream and supported by a full time teacher.


  • Freedom of teaching in contents and method. Autonomy to allow teacher the flexibility to carry out their duties enshrined in constitution.
  • BUT contradiction – Usually would use books given in schools, Ministry of Education is didactic, so teachers can only really choose the timetable.
  • Mostly female.
  • Have to undertake 5 years at uni in educational sciences with internships for practice.
  • Range of value given to profession, e.g. very low for kindergarten and special needs, secondary school medium, and uni lecturers have high value.




  • Map of Middle East and Israel/Palestine
  • History of Israeli independence and Al-Naqba.
  • Expansion of Israeli land from 1947 to 2016, confiscation of Palestinian land for settlements in West Bank.
  • Even though their land is disappearing, the people are not.

Education overview

  • Palestinian Ministry based in Ramallah
  • Youth literacy rates over 99%
  • Fairly evenly split between genders
  • Primary education uptake 92%. Middle school “empowerment” education uptake 87.5%. higher education 74%.
  • Centralise / national curriculum grades 1-12 with some local variations accepted.
  • Average class size WB 27.4 and Gaza 36.6 – huge structural damage to the schools in Gaza.
  • Fairly similar to Western statistics
  • Education so important for the Palestinians, very highly valued, essential for their survival. Refugee situation
  • Structure: Primary grades 1-4 with no grading. 5-10 is middle ’empowerment\ education, assessments throughout and final grade issued. Higher academic and vocational 11 & 12.  

School management

  • Split between Palestinian Authority and UNWRA (which runs 700 schools and teacher education programmes), other NGOs and some private.
  • Funding mostly from the PA with contributions from EU and UN and others, especially because the PA often has their funding cut off at Israel’s whim. Happened in 2004 when R was living in the West Bank.

Unique challenges

  • Traumatic stress
  • Curfews, roadblocks, school closures. R talked about kids sneaking through forest on their bellies trying to get to school despite the curfew, would sometimes be shot at by the settlers. Also impact on numbers of teachers who were able to get there. School minibus couldn’t be used.
  • Demolitions – School threatened with closure to make way for more settlement. Bullet holes in walls and classrooms at his school was taken as ‘part of life’
  • Structural damage. 87% all schools suffered direct and indirect structural damage from the conflict
  • Funding – no new schools built since 1977. Poor existing facilities in school, including toilets, labs, audio/visual, IT
  • Social conditions – difficult for parents to be in work with road blocks and other issues.
  • Harassment from IDF and settlers
    • 72% all students experienced at least one act of intimidation or attack from IDF or settlers.
    • Of all Palestinian casualties, 36% are school aged.
    • Estimated that 35-40% of school aged kids suffer from PTSD
  • Degradation and discrediting of Palestinian culture, national identity, notion of statehood.

Hope Flowers School, Al Khader, near Bethlehem.

  • Volunteer teaching and admin 7 months in 2004.
  • Part of peace and reconciliation movement.
  • Observed high levels of optimism for future. Dedication to attendance, including breaking of curfews.
  • High participation from family.
  • Lack of understanding rather than hatred of Israel / Israelis.
  • Rejected pressure from Hamas to stop teaching Hebrew.
  • Constant threat of demolition.
  • Incredible hospitality from the families of children who attended the school.
  • Experience of huge culture shock returning to the UK




  • Communist. Controlled education. Oath in front of national flag
  • Huge country which has governance and management issues because of the vast distances and population numbers.
  • 94% of population on east coast, more resources and development there. has an impact on value and delivery of education. In west there are greater distances between schools, less development and pay. Teachers don’t want to go there, so gap getting bigger. Govt subsidising western schools to help alleviate this.
  • 5,000yo history.
    • Tradition of class stratification.
    • Didn’t have schools, rich families would hire tutors to come to the house to teach the boys.
    • Girls usually didn’t have the opportunity to study throughout history, though this has changed now

Education structure

  • Early Childhood Ed – 3yo. Kindergarten already learning language, math, art, general knowledge, music etc. Learn how to play and enjoy life “best years of life in kindergarten”
  • Primary – 6-12yo – core subjects like Chinese, math, English and later social sciences, natural sciences, art, computing etc.
  • Middle School – 12-13 – Added specialisation e.g physics, chem, history, geography, biology etc.
  • High School – 15-18 – very intensive as a lot of pressure to do well and go to university.
  • University highly valued, incredibly competitive


  • Often very crowded in classrooms, 60 students is normal (HX needed a mic in her teaching).
  • Uniforms at all schools, strictly enforced.
  • Desks in rows, usually individual or pairs.
  • Teacher centred. To be a teacher is hard work dealing with class sizes and the pressure from parents.

National entrance exam = Gaokao.

  • A way of making assessment fair as population so big and hard to manage, avoid corruption.
  • Also unfair as so much pressure on just one test and can change their life. A lot of pressure from family and school.
  • Can retake but you have to sit at the back so everyone knows you failed first time.
  • Students become like test machines. Last year of high school very intense, assessments nearly every day. Even cameras and police monitoring when exams being sat. Pressure from family especially has led to students committing suicide. Pressure from school as the results help to decide the schools’ funding and the teachers’ salaries.

Study schedule – hardest working students in the world

  • Primary school 8am-5pm with break
  • Middle school 7am – 9pm with two breaks
  • High school 7am – 11pm with two breaks 11.7 hours every day on average.

Achievement in Chinese education

  • 1949 – 20% … 1990 – 78% … 2010 – 95% … now 96..4%
  • University student numbers:
    • 1949: 117,000 and now in 2016: 37 million

1966-1976 cultural revolution

  • Teachers mocked and abused, many killed in the purge.

Higher education since 1970s

  • 1977 higher education 7.7% then 1999 48% and 2009 64.2%
  • 523,700 Chinese students went abroad to study in 2015


Historical perspective as we learn a lot about it in other classes.

Kalevala epic mythology

Middle Ages and Reformation

  • Part of Sweden in crusades 12th cent
  • Education under control of catholic chrch, given in monasteries ad cathedral schools by priests. In Swedish and Latin, not in Finnish
  • Capital was Turku until 19th cent
  • Lutheran reformation in 16th cent – first ideas of Finnish education in local language.
  • Written Finnish very recent.
  • First uni – Turku Academy, moved to Helsinki in 1827

Grand Duchy of Finland 1809 – 1917

  • Finland part of Russia in 1809 – autonomy, could keep own laws and societal system, post office etc.
  • Matriculation exam 1852 for university entrance
  • 1866 national school system separated from church
  • 1869 – supervisory board of education

Independence and WWII

  • Finland became independent 6 Dec 1917: Russian revolution 1917, Finnish civil war 1918 bw Reds and Whites. 36,000 killed.
  • From beginning a strong will to make education attainable for all.
  • General compulsory education 1921
  • Finland in WWII 1939-1945. Strategic alliance with Germany to defend against Soviet Union. Defeated and had to pay reparations

From 1948 school meals were free of charge, first country in world to do this.


  • 1960s-70s: vocational education and academic education
  • Uni of Oulu 1958
  • Volkschule until 1970s
  • Basic school

Present day

  • PISA results and “PISA tourism”
  • Current government: Neo lib direction. Current PMs and Minister of ed took part in campaign promising that study grants will not be weakened and there will be no cuts in education.
  • BUT huge cuts are coming under both of these men who promised not to. Will be changes in the subjective right to early childhood education, bigger child groups, study grants cut.
  • So what will happen with the education miracle in Finland with these changes?
  • Next election isn’t until 2019 and a lot of damage can happen in that time. Teacher union big but not standing up so strongly with this, little that they can do as govt not listening.



For immigrant, refugee, asylum seeker or returnee children.

Several methods to support foreign pupils:

  • Prep teaching
    • 6 months to one year. No Finnish language knowledge. Multipurpose Finnish language focus. Participation and integration in Finnish society. Readiness for transition to basic education. Mental and linguistic skills as well as objectives of social welfare state. Finnish language learned in all lessons, but they will also have a little on other classes.
  • Finnish as a 2nd language
    • Where they have some proficiency but not enough in all areas so they are falling behind other students who have Finnish as mother tongue. In a separate class lesson or to a small group of students. Focuses on developing proficiency in specific subject areas and vocabulary
  • “Own language” teaching
    • Immigrant teacher supports pupils in the content areas through their mother tongue. They can learn all subjects in their native language. Not to translate the whole language, but to use the mother tongue as a supporting language. Immigrant teacher acts as bridge between cultures and students’ parents and school staff. Promoting equal learning skills so they can understand subject content and reach curriculum objectives.Must have knowledge of all subjects 1-9 grades and need Finnish language at level of teaching.
  • Immigrant languages teaching, mother tongue instruction.
    • To support immigrant pupils’ language identity and culture identity forming and development of healthy self esteem. Support bilingual growth and become culturally a member of their own society too. Usually offered 2 hours of instruction in a week in their own mother tongue. Minimum of 4 students needed to set up a group for this instruction.




  • Informal childcare
  • almost half of all children under 12 not receiving formal childcare
  • 22% cared for by grandparents
  • Other family and friends
  • Babysitters
  • Formal childcare
    • Long day care
    • Family day care
    • Occasional care
    • Out of school care
    • Pre-school
      • 3-6, free or heavily subsidised. Most children attend.

Compulsory education

  • 6yo-17yo
  • Government schools 65%
  • Non-govt schools 35%
    • Also religious schools 21%
    • Independent schools
  • 13 years altogether
  • Primary: Kindergarten to y6/7
  • Secondary: Y6/7 – y12

Australian National Curriculum

  • Some states rewritten their own version
  • Used to be different in each state
  • Still being rolled out.

Everyday life at school

  • Primary
    • 8:45 – 3pmish
    • One teacher through whole day
    • Uniforms in all schools, maybe only a few independent schools don’t have them
    • Lunch boxes
    • Assessment: range of summative and formative. Little official testing, depends on school and teachers usually. NAPLAN testing reading, writing and numeracy. Ys 3, 5, 7, 9. 2008. Published on MySchool website.
    • Reporting – twice a year, intensive process, varies between schools. Descriptive and personal with some grading,
  • High school
    • Subjects separated
    • Higher school certificate
  • Post-high school:
    • University
    • TAFE (vocational / technical school)
    • Work



“Educational aims have a historical character” – Manheim


  • Gurukuls – ancient schools of India
    • More religious
    • “One who seeks education, should not seek comfort, and those who seek comfort should not seek education”
    • Separate genders. No differentiation in caste and genders at the time. As castes were introduced the curriculum would be divided between them accordingly.  
  • Nalanda University and Taxila – high rise with a great fall.
    • Art, architecture, painting, logic, mathematics, Hinduism and Buddhism.
  • What ancients knew
    • Number system 4th cent
    • Ayurveda from almost 2,000 years ago
    • Sushrut invented plastic surgery 3rd cent
    • Astronomical instruments and still highly accurate
    • Also trigonometry, metallurgy, yoga
  • Islamic invasion
    • Tried demolishing Hindu temples and systems of study
    • Didn’t conquer all of India, but in ruling areas they had own institutions as part of the mosque. Wanted to teach their own culture and Quran.
  • Colonisation by Britain – link to present day pedagogy
    • Even what is considered to be worth teaching remains to this day is clouded by colonial view of Indian society. Continue to shape education, through Independence struggle and still after it.
    • Curriculum by “enlightened outsider” not teacher – still the same today.
    • Curriculum totally dissociated from Indian child’s everyday realities. Local community not reflected in school curricula.
    • No professional identity of teachers.

Present day

  • Types of schools – huge disparity in funding and resources.
    • High poverty schools
      • State government schools
      • Low cost private schools
      • National school of open learning
    • Schools for rich
      • International schools
      • High cost private schools.
  • Challenges
    • Not many schools for the big pupulation
    • Continuous examinations almost every week despite not learning much
    • Poor quality of teachers – low salary, eligibility test in 2012 only 2.5% of teachers could qualify for it.
    • Lack of quality teacher education programmes – seen as a part tim job women can do while handling household chores. Burden with clerical jobs
    • Corruption and politics in education
  • IIT – pioneering engineering colleges of india
    • Fees paid for by govt
    • Entrance to college most difficult task
  • Private colleges
    • A few good ones but many just business colleges
  • Alternative schools
    • People opening up with radically diff methods, wanting to change mainstream schools, child-centred learning.
  • Other measures being taken:
    • New curriculum framework
    • Organisations building teacher learning materials
    • Emphasis on teacher education programmes
    • Media and books raising awareness of flaws in ed system.



Harambee 1st June 1963 – “let us all pull together” – community movement to build their own schools for themselves.

  • Population 43million, 42% under 14 years
  • 40 ethnic groups
  • Official languages Swahili and English
  • Flag – had been under British colony. Black = skin, white = peace, red = blood shed, green = environment, shield and spear = what was used to fight coloniser
  • Poverty: 45.5% living $1 or less per day.
  • Life expectancy 62 years ave for men and women
  • Compulsory education 8 years
  • Literacy rates:
    • 15-24yo: 85.9%
    • 15-64: 78.02%
    • 65+: 50.85%

Diagram of education system – on slides. 2-6-6-3 (years)

  • 2003 = start of free primary education for all
  • 2008 = start of free/affordable secondary education
  • 2003-2012 7,000 more schools and secondary enrolment increased from 43-67%
  • 2012-2014 enrollment to universities more than doubled.
  • Children Act Amendment Bill 2010 abolished corporal punishment in schools (had been based on colonisers’ punishment)
  • 2016 onwards – reintroduction of the school milk programme. Had been 1979-1997 Monday, Wednesday and Fridays (best school days), aim to bring poor kids to school and avoiding child labour. Could also use cartons for playing. But a cash cow leading to corruption in government and siphoning of budget.


  • Gender disparity: Parental gender bias, cultural norms, negative impacts of HIV/AIDS pandemic, poverty
  • High poverty levels: almost 50% living on under USD 1 per day
  • Teacher supply and low pay, student:teacher ratio, poor training
  • Inadequate finances: poor infrastructure, government commitment.

Motivation of students? Would run 10km to go to school, parents believe education is key.



  • Public and private across all levels
  • Preschool 3-6/7
  • Basic education: Compulsory from 6-16yp. Curriculum unified for all schools.
    • Primary 4 years.
      • Grading starts from 2nd grade onwards A-F grades
    • Pre-secondary 3-4 years
  • Secondary school: 4 years at general secondary schools or 5 years at professional schools
    • Professional schools – Private schools focused on a particular discipline e.g. language, music, sport, art) Have to apply through exam in 7th grade. Bulfarian language, literature and maths.
    • In last two years students required to take advanced courses in 2 or 3 subjects
    • Matriculation exam after 12th grade
    • Optional 13th grade for vocational schools
  • Public schools – 26/27 children, intensive competition, shifts broken into morning and afternoon to deal with capacity.
  • Private schools – very different, 10 children in class.
  • Higher education – university / college. 4 types of higher education institutions e.g. higher education college, university, technical university and academies
  • Problems
    • Classrooms not well equipped
    • No unified tests and grading system
    • Problems with Roma minority
    • Quality getting lower – low salaries, not respected, population decreasing, high levels of emigration. 9million – 7.6 million, projected by 2060 will be 4 million! Half of M’s high school class went abroad after half school, almost all of her bachelor’s group are abroad now.
    • A lot of corruption at all levels. Also sexual harassment from male teachers to female students.


Geography, between Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Caspian Sea, near Gulf States

Years at school

  • Primary – all compulsorY
  • Secondary – 3 compulsory 3 voluntary
  • Tertiary – voluntary


  • Since Islamic Republic textbooks have changed a few times to represent strong Islamic discourse. Claims to be political model for the world, and so is reflected strongly in curriculum. Play an important role in shaping and socialising students.  
  • Iranian Textbook Analysis conducted y Freedom House
  • 14 main objectives for Islamic education
    • out of these 9 are directly addressing religious, ideological, ethical and political issues… reinforcing belief of God, religious obedience, moral virtues, learning Quran, purification of spirit etc.
  • Gender bias in textbooks
    • Women and men not equal. Also justified within Islamic framework. Level and social equality of men and women not mentioned
    • Men and women have assigned gender roles in social and private lives. Men defined as “superior sex” and women as “second sex”
    • Iranian women restricted to house and family life in textbook images
    • Women represented in only 37% of images, often appearing in group photos. Absence of women is noticeable, esp in work and social environments being represented. Stronger presence in home and neighbourhood.
    • Effects for female students – exclusion, alienations, devaluation, lower expectations.

Primary schools

  • Structured, teacher centred, often resistance from children who don’t want to go.
  • Private schools more flexible and similar to Finland etc. but very expensive

University entrance exams – Konkoor (competition)

  • Very competitive and intensive.
  • All multi-choice questions
  • “Iranian youth’s prospering nightmare”
  • Takes away from actual learning as it’s focused on studying just for the test.
  • Many study for 12 hours a day or even more.
  • Higher education competitive and well respected. Almost all run by government. Tehran university etc ranked very highly. Some private universities too. Large determinant of social mobility.




  • Eastern European, borders with Latvia, Belarus, Poland and Russian exclave, in EU since 2004.
  • Very young country, independences and occupations.
  • Vilnius capital.
  • Small country and only 2.8million ppl.
  • Not such a big difference in education in different parts of the country.
  • Language is oldest surviving Indo-European language (more than 5,000 years old), related to Sanskrit, Latin and Ancient Greek – big focus on trying to save it, very strict Lithuanian teachers.

History (20th century)

  • 1940 occupied by Soviet union. Russian taught in schools (now English taught from early age)
  • 1941 mass deportations of Lithuanians to Siberia began
  • 1944 occupied by Red Army
  • 1990 independent Lithuania
  • 2004 joined the EU. Still dependent as needing to follow certain rules

Structure of education

  • Primary education
  • Lower secondary
  • Upper secondary to 12th grade OR vocational education
  • Possibility to go to uni and unis of applied science (college professional)
    • University bachelors are 4 years
    • College professional bachelor’s studies

Education principles

  • State and private
  • Lithuanian but also Russian, Polish, Jewish and International schools
  • Compulsory for 6-16 years
  • Free in govt schools
  • Exams 4, 8,10,12 grades
  • Sept 1 to end of May / middle of June
  • 2 semesters or 3 terms
  • 45 mins to 1.5 hours
  • 24-3 students in one class.


  • Economic situation (corruption)
  • Pressure from authorities
  • Results most important
  • Unhealthy and unreasonable competition. Rote learning not actual learning.
  • Technical learning
  • Respect or fear?
  • Smart or rich?




  • 2 Koreas – North and South
  • War in 1950s for 3 years.  “Brotherhood of War” movie
  • Before war, 36 years of Japanese occupation. Bad experience.
  • After war was one of the poorest country in the world.
  • 1996 OECD and G20 membership – huge development in 40 years.

Basic education

  • Few natural resources so education seen as important for development.
  • Now formal education is compulsory at elementary (6 years) and middle school (3 years)
  • High school not free (3 years)
  • University 3-6 years (very expensive)


  • A lot of pressure and competition. Helps with development but it’s too much pressure for students and their parents.
  • Grading is relative, so even if all have good grades a number have to get A, B, C etc.
  • PISA results very good grades – 2009, 2012. Great results but what about the suffering and mental health pressure in lead up to test?
  • Very high literacy even before children start school – enthusiastic parents.
  • Entrance rate for uni gone up from 27.2% in 1980 to 82.1% in 2005 and 70.9% in 2014
  • Study – Korean children least happy in OECD. Northern Europe in highest. 60.3 compared to Finland 89.8, Iceland 90.2, and Netherlands 94.2
  • Private tutoring – popular, huge market. Sports, language and instruments at a young age. Older they have a lot of evening classes to cram study. $240 per month per student is normal.

Non-formal education

  • Increasing a lot. Most who go into alternative education because they struggled to adjust to public school.



Different terms for different kinds of / attitudes towards education:


  • Bild translation is “picture”
  • Process = To form / build – so to build up a picture of the world.


  • Old term but still used
  • Means “to pull” – to pull a child into one direction to be a good grown up


  • Lehrer = teacher
  • Lehre = “lessoning”
  • To teach somebody a lesson too.

Legal position

  • Care and upbrining of children is right of parents but state will watch over them in performance of this duty
  • Entire school system shall be under supervision of the state
  • ^^ Contradict each other and has been conflict over it. Parents who want their children to start school a year later have to go to court to fight for it

Educational system

  • Image on slide.
  • Not common – every state has own curriculum and years for different levels, quality changes too.
  • Elementary school 1-4
  • Secondary school split into
    • Gymnasium
    • Realschule
    • Haptschule
    • Berufsschule
  • Germany puts in below average (OECD) money into educational system. More in higher ed than in early childhood.


  • Early days
    • Estate based
    • Enlightenment (Kant) and idea of education makes humans humans. So our basic instincts don’t hold us back from this. Disciplination, cultivation, civilisation, moralisation.
  • Basic elements of the school plans of Wilhelm Humboldt
  • Classic progressive educational movement, e.g. Friedrich Frobel and founder of kindergarten with play at centre of pedagogy. Peter Petersen. Rudolf Steiner. Alice Salomon (women’s right to study)
  • 1908 – women’s right to study
  • WWII – exclusion of Jewish children etc. etc.
  • Post war years – GDR and FRG 1945-1990. West quite varied, East very structured and people had to do everything at the same time.
  • PISA Shock 2001 – children from highly educated parents would get into higher education, but children from low education parents would struggle to get into higher education/
  • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and now trying to implement this right since 2009.


K & A- USA

Plessy vs Ferguson 1896

  • “Separate but equal” but of course in reality wasn’t equal.
  • White schools getting most funding, materials, facilities vs black schools second hand, poor facilities.

1945 Brown vs Board of Education

  • Rule it wasn’t equal and so they had to integrate.
  • Little Rock, Arkansas 1957 –  9 black students went to all-white high school. State troops blocked from school. Riots. Federal guard escorted black students to school.

2001 – No child left behind

  • G W Bush.
  • Before this states didn’t have very strict standards until this.
  • Policy to try to make US students achieve better internationally
  • Teachers became very test oriented
  • If school didn’t pass the AYP test then they could be closed down. If this was threatened, parents could move their children to another school. Schools could fire all teachers, hire someone external from a company to restructure, switch around the district. Most schools failed – by law almost all schools in US were “failing schools”

2009 – Common Core

  • Only 3 of 15 who wrote math curriculum had taught in class
  • Only 1 not affiliated with an education company or NGO
  • Only 5/15 had English teaching experience who created language curriculum
  • If schools failed AYP but adopted Common Core then they could be pardoned.
  • Students beginning to realise that all the standardised testing isn’t getting anywhere.
  • Was approved before it was even finished.
  • Science – completed April 2012
  • Social studies – coming


  • Preschool 2-4
  • Elementary Kindergarten – G5
  • Middle School G6-8
  • High School G9-12
  • The vocational tech institution, community college or university, or work force)

Student loans

  • 2012, 71% who graduated from 4 year colleges had student loan debt
  • Public college average $25,550
  • Private non-profit average $32,300
  • For-profit colleges much higher debt
  • Gone up in price by 600% in 30 years

State vs Federal

  • 10th amendment means federal power over education is limited.
  • But states can lose fed aid if they don’t comply with fed standards.
  • Illinois – PARCC test only 33% are at grade level! Less than half ready for college at end of high school.
  • A lot of discrepency in funding for schools.
  • Chicago IL – low college and working rates post graduation, high teacher salary, lots of layoffs.
  • California – most populous state in nation and 8th worst in education. A lot of Eng language learners. State spends most of its budget on education but has one of lowest rates per pupil because of population. Only 38% ready for college within state after school.



  • First country in West Africa to gain independence from British (March 1957)
  • Educational models very much based on British experiment
  • Speak only 14 main languages but only 9 written and taught in schools.
  • Flag = red blood shed, yellow mineral resources, green forest reserves and black start in middle is aspiration to become star of Africa.


  • Free and compulsory basic education: basic primary, junior high school, secondary school and universities   
  • 38 teacher training institutions (3 years)
  • From age 6-9 teaching is in English or integrated with local language. Textbooks in English
  • Junior high – 3years. 9-10 courses. Tests administered by West African Educational Council
  • Senior high school – 4 core subjects: English, science, maths and social studies. Also elective subjects such as general arts (history, economics, geo etc), agriculture, buiness, technical, visual arts etc.


  • Developing country with inadequate or poor infrastructure
  • Accessibility can be a challenge
  • Inadequate numbers of quality teachers.


  • Wanting to bridge the gap and encourage people to go to school
  • One laptop per child policy
  • School sandals supplied to school children.
  • School feeding programme (J’s focus in thesis – how programme has impacted school attendance and achievement)
  • Free school uniforms donated to students to encourage them to go to school



4 thoughts on “Notes: Comparisons of EdGlo countries’ education systems

    1. Thank you Brent! Yes I feel the same way. I wasn’t sure if my course notes would be interesting to people, but I’ve had positive responses so far so I think I’ll put the backlog up and then update every couple of days or so. Much easier and less time-consuming than turning them into proper article posts, though I will do that sometimes of course!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s