International Educational Perspectives (3)

The two other presentations took place in the afternoon after lunch and Praxis members were invited to meet the presenters “en petit comite” for a round of questions at the end of the e-Learning event at WTC the following day.

Prof. Kwanyoung KIM represents the International Cooperation and Research Center of Korea Education and Research Information Service (KERIS) with which the Bradesco Foundation has just partnered for Educational Games). He first exposed participants to the Korean Education Ministry projects through an institutional video showing the South Korean effort not only to integrate cutting-edge technologies into schools so as to lower the educational gap between rich and poor districts but also to promote learning by involving the students’ senses (“see, hear and feel”) and by moving the learning experience to places outside of the classroom- the so called u- learning (ubiquitous learning).

The presentation was delivered in Korean with constant reference to the data-loaded slides. Fortunately, those were in English (although translation was provided in Portuguese and English, my headset went mute after 5 minutes) and they showed the Education Reform initiatives expressed in three phases or Master Plans aimed at creating the technological infra-structure, educational environment and knowledge needed for its citizens to operate in the “global market”.

The figures showed a spectacular increase in the college enrollment ratio in the last 30 years (27,2% in 1980, 65% in 2000 and 82.8% in 2007), the country excelled in the Pisa assessment. However, paradoxically, in spite of all this, Prof. Kim pointed out that there has been a decrease in the satisfaction level of the students in education and an increase in the number of students who leave the country to study abroad: 10.498 in 2003; 16.446 in 2004 and 20.400 in 2005.

Sonia Handa, from India and head of Educomp Solutions, highlighted the enormous disparities in Indian education, the lack of infrastructure in rural areas, the lack of interest of children in rote learning, the teachers’ lack of technology skills and the government’s increased expenditure in education and alliances with the private sector. After referring to some of Prof David Hargreaves’ “Education in the 21st Century” concepts, Sonia introduced the Millenium School, one of the educational products her company developed and markets and how this has brought enthusiasm, motivation and creativity back to the classrooms where it is being used. I also found out they are the company behind WiZiQ, the online platform which some teachers have been using for presentations lately.

The meeting yesterday was more personal and the answers to the questions revealed a bit more of the presenter behind the slides/institution or product sold . Although there was no time for a more prolonged discussion on the different themes that emerged, I am sure that those who were there will remember Prof Kim’s 3 M’s , in English this time 🙂 – Messenger, Method and Message; Prof Ishihara’s illustration of how teachers can encourage curiosity, development and potential of each student (example of the Egyptian students with hearing disabilities who excelled in Maths) and Sonia Handa’s impassioned (but debatable) statement that children become motivated to learn when they are given what they like and want – technology and games. She also mentioned her pleasant surprise at the warm spontaneity and informality of Brazilian participants.

Some photos on Flickr

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