Onderwijsministers: crisis biedt kans

Nieuws | de redactie
12 november 2010 | De onderwijsministers van de hoogontwikkelde landen hebben in OECD-verband hun agenda opgesteld voor de post-crisis periode. "Business as usual is not enough. We have to use the crisis as an opportunity to introduce transformation and innovation with higher standards and better assessment."

De kernconclusies van het beraad zijn helder en bondigsamengevat in ‘main issues’, ‘lessons learned’ en ‘what we can do’.Het is interessant deze te leggen naast de punten waarover hetOCW-begrotingsdebat in de Kamer deze week ging. Daarin werd de toonveelal gezet door behoefte aan repressieve taal over falendeleraren en het ontbreken van een stoer HRM-beleid. 

De OECD formuleert de uitkomst van de ministersconferentie alsvolgt:

‘Education and training are fundamental for economic recovery.Education and training continue to fuel the engine of socialmobility and contribute to social cohesion and integration in ourever more diverse societies and cultures. Equipping our educationsystems with the best schools and the best teachers will requireinnovative policies and clear public governance accompanied by aculture of responsibility. Continuous and broad reform efforts willbe necessary to maximize education’s capacity to foster the humanand social capital needed today and tomorrow.

During the OECD Education Ministerial Meeting 2010 we discussedfour of the main challenges ahead:

1. Tackling the effects of the crisis on education
2. Matching skills to new needs
3. Equipping effective teachers for the 21st century
4. Reinforcing the social benefits of education


a) What are the main issues?

We discussed the implications of the crisis for education andtraining systems in their respective countries and exchanged viewson ways to improve equity and efficiency.

We recognised that sustainable economic recovery and socialprogress rests upon maintaining adequate levels of investment ineducation and training, while making continuous efforts to improvethe effective use of limited resources and to encourageinnovation.

We also explored the long-term effects of the social crisis,caused by youth unemployment, on aspiration levels, motivation andlearning attitudes. Basic education is the basis for future life.We have to ensure that no child and no adult is left behind.

b) What have we learned?

More than ever education has to be seen as an investment and asa driver of long-term growth and social cohesion. We need more andbetter skilled people to ensure future prosperity in ourincreasingly global and diverse societies.

Solid comparative evidence on outcomes is among the best ways tojustify continued public investments in education. Education is apublic good.

c) What can we do?

We agreed we have to do better to prevent failure and dropoutand we have to address youth unemployment. We cannot afford towaste any of our human capital potential. We must start early, takea lifelong approach and should concentrate on key competencies.Teachers are the key.

Business as usual is not enough to increase effectiveness andefficiency: we have to use the crisis as an opportunity tointroduce transformation and innovation with higher standards andbetter assessment. We have seen good examples of how stimulusspending has accelerated educational reform and increased thecapacity and quality of education systems.

Continuing international dialogue and collaboration is extremelyuseful in the search for better solutions. We have to concentrateon better public governance of the education system. We shouldstrengthen the autonomy and the responsibility of school leaders.Schools need a climate of trust.


a) What are the main issues?

Education and training systems need to develop competent,connected and active lifelong learners who can respond effectivelyto unpredicted needs to succeed in a world of rapid technological,social and organisational change.

Basic competencies, self-confidence and an entrepreneurialapproach to new challenges are of great importance.

b) What have we learned?

We recognised that getting the right skills is crucial for theongoing prosperity of both individuals and societies. Forecastingfuture skill demands is difficult, especially in a rapidly changingeconomy with a high level of uncertainty.

We emphasised the importance of taking a lifecycle approach indesigning policy responses to the challenges of building,developing and constantly improving skills and competencies for oursocieties. Success depends both on effective early intervention onthe one hand, and ensuring equity and access to further learning,on the other.

We agreed to keep a focus on high standards in foundation skillsand emphasised the need for an appropriate balance betweenprofessional and job specific skills and generic skills, such asentrepreneurship, creativity and communication, and skills that aredeveloped by young people outside the formal system.

Governance structures and incentive systems must ensure that allactors and institutions involved in education and the labour marketwork effectively together and adapt efficiently to changingneeds.

c) What can we do?

We need a ‘whole of government’ approach and ‘whole ofeducation’ perspective to also engage employers and to addressskills development for the future labour market.

We recognised the need for appropriate policy measures to:

? Develop effective mechanisms for gathering knowledge aboutemerging needs for skills and efficiently translating this into thecontent of instruction;
? Prepare motivated, engaged learners who can successfully meet theunforeseen challenges of tomorrow;
? Establish a strong coalition of governments, businesses, andsocial partners who can foster motivation, innovation and resourcesto make lifelong learning a reality;
? Improve career counseling to support learners;
? Anticipate future developments via innovation, creativity andconfidence.


a) What are the main issues?

Teachers are the key professionals in our education system. Whenthey succeed, our students are effective and motivated learners. Weneed to give teachers and school leaders the tools and support theyneed to do their job well.

b) What have we learned?

The world has become more complex, the student population hasbecome more diverse; teachers face ever increasing expectationswhile respect for the profession may be falling. The challenge ishow to develop the whole teaching profession to work togethereffectively.

Several countries pointed to the difficulty of attracting thosewith the right mix of skills and personality into the teachingprofession. We saw the need to raise the status and esteem ofteachers. Part of the answer may be salaries, raising teacher entrystandards and greater professional recognition. We should createopportunities for teachers’ career development (e.g. head teachers,tutors for new teachers) and should boost teaching quality byevaluation.

Many of us face challenges in shifting our teacher education andcontinuing professional development programmes towards developingthe competencies that teachers need in today’s classrooms,including intercultural learning.

c) What can we do?

We need more focus on high quality teacher training andprofessional development, particularly in initial teacher training,teacher induction and early teaching support.

We also need to focus our teacher selection on attracting thebest to the teaching profession. It is essential that anappropriate system of accreditation and continuing regularevaluation is in place to provide teachers with the feedback theyneed to improve throughout their career. This system needs to takeinto account teachers’ needs, students’ progress and widerstakeholder interests. On the job training is important. Results ofresearch should be applied in the teaching practice. We need moreteam work in and between schools and leadership at schools.

Teachers have to educate for employability and have to conveyvalues of our civil society to students.


a) What are the main issues?

The economic recession has a social dimension, reflected inrising unemployment, especially among young people, affecting notonly material living conditions but also the broader well-being andquality of life of many people. In tackling these effects,education plays an important role.

Recent research has improved our understanding of how educationnot only produces human capital, but also contributes to widersocial benefits. Human capital and social capital interact inimproving not only labour market outcomes, but also health, civicparticipation, political engagement, trust and tolerance.

Well-designed educational policy interventions focusing oncognitive and non-cognitive skills, values and attitudes arenecessary to significantly improve the impact of education.

b) What have we learned?

The benefits of education go beyond the economic returns toindividuals and societies, contributing also to better health,citizenship, lower crime rates, more trust and tolerance.

Education has not yet realized its full potential for everyoneand therefore there are still significant inequalities ineducational outcomes. Migration, especially in urban areas,continues to pose challenges to schools – but also manyopportunities that come with greater diversity.

c) What can we do?

Literacy and foundation skills should be reinforced. At the sametime, non-cognitive skills such as creativity, critical thinking,problem solving and team work are important for both economic andsocial outcomes. We have to take responsibility for children withspecial needs or learners requiring tailored support.

The best contribution education can make in helping to tacklesocieties’ many problems is to better fulfil its core mission. Heretoo, we need to work together and adopt a ‘whole-of-government’approach.

We recognize the urgent need to address inequality ofopportunity and equity issues and to reinforce the capacity ofeducation systems to deliver on their goals. We also underlined theneed to improve our understanding of education’s impact on thesocial aspects of modern life and welcome the OECD’s continuingwork in this field.

Parents, families and communities should be more involved ineveryday school life.

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