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To what extent can low fee international education programmes, aid the process of decolonization in post-colonial Mozambique?

Introduction

At the end of five hundred years of shouldering the white man’s burden of civilizing “African natives” the Portuguese had not managed to train a single African doctor in Mozambique, and the life expectancy in eastern Angola was less than thirty years”

      (Rodney 2018 pp 247)

Education creates a nation’s doctors, lawyers, nurses, and teachers, all the social services needed to develop a society, keep its citizens healthy and economically productive. With few exceptions, throughout the colonial period of Africa, education systems provided for the majority black populations were geared towards the needs of the minority white settlers and their ‘mother country’ and not in the interest of most indigenous populations. The quote above demonstrates the reality of the outcomes of the Portuguese colonial education system in Mozambique.

Using the context of Mozambique, this essay will examine the rise of global transnational education programmes delivered by private schools for a growing middle class across Africa. I will examine how Enko education, a transnational provider of private education across Africa, with three schools in Mozambique, promises to help African students gain places in ‘leading’ global universities by giving students access and opportunity to study internationally recognised curricula. There are a few different international or transnational education programmes but this essay will consider only the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP). Transnational organizations like Enko education and the IB raise interesting questions for decolonization within the African historical context. What I hope to offer is a study of the increase towards private low fee international schools and their implications for decolonization, with a specific focus on Mozambique. This paper will examine the question: “To what extent can low fee international education programmes, aid the process of decolonization in post-colonial Mozambique?”

The first three sections provide contextual information and are structured similarly: considering general trends in low income and postcolonial contexts in Africa before discussing Mozambique in detail. In section one I present a history and context of some colonial education systems. Section two is an overview of the African learning crisis and rise of low fee private schooling including Enko education. In section three I examine the IB, its philosophy and history, before moving onto analysing the issues described in these contextual sections through the framework of underdevelopment in section four. In the final section I provide a conclusion.

Before continuing I need to define some of the boundaries of this paper. This is not a paper about so-called low-fee or low-cost private schools (LFPS) of which I have written about elsewhere (Vincent 2021a, Vincent 2021b) and have been the basis of much academic debate over the last two decades (See Tooley 2009, Härmä 2020). Nor is it a paper about elite private international education, the type of which is normally available to the highest socio-economic groups, referred to as Type A international schools by Hayden and Thomson (2013). Instead, I seek to examine what may be considered the middle ground, and its decolonising role, within a post-colonial context. These are private schools that cater to a growing middle class and offer the type of international education programmes found in elite schools but at a tenth of the cost. This trend sits alongside the rise of LFPS across Africa, within a general trend of privatization in the age of global neoliberal economics.

Section 1: Colonial and Post-Colonial Education

            According to Datzberger (2021) pre-colonial African education was based on social and communal relationships within family tribal and clan-based groups which focussed on the learning of utilitarian skills. These skills are those that were needed for the development, within the individual, of the social-cultural values and norms. Usually within pre-colonial societies the important unit was not the individual, but the group and hence education was focussed on developing group cohesion amongst individuals. Children were educated to engage with a particular activity, and to ensure the transmission of cultural values. Education of this type included oral storytelling and literature as well as the transmission of traditions through stories and dancing and interactive experience. Traditional pedagogies in Kenya for example, are highlighted by Wa Thiong’o (1986) who stresses the importance of using local African languages for cultural transmission and education through the Arts. Rodney (2018) claims that whilst local differences did exist between different African communities in their pre-colonial education, most did follow a similar pattern based on respect for communal relationships.

            With the scramble for Africa circa 1870, there was differing emphasis given to education between different colonial powers. Although the differences appear to be by way of degree and implementation, the intent of colonial powers was generally to absorb African societies into a subordinate position in an economic hierarchy. Thus, in British, French or Portuguese colonies, education existed to promote the interests of the colonising nation generally at the expense of the colonised. Madeira (2005) gives an interesting comparative account of the differences and similarities of education systems in Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone colonial jurisdictions.

Whilst he was writing about his experiences of British colonial schooling in Kenya specifically, the colonial education system described in detail by Wa Thiong’o (1986) could be thought to be typical of colonial education systems throughout Africa during the colonial period in terms of its purpose (Rodney 2018). Wa Thiong’o (1986) is included here because he has written with lucidity about his personal experience of colonial education, an experience that could be thought to be typical for successful indigenous completers of colonial education, even across different contexts. He describes how the Kenyan colonial education system was designed to dominate ‘the mental universe of the colonised’ (ibid pp 16). He writes that the colonial education system focussed on the ‘destruction or the deliberate undervaluing of a people’s culture … and the conscious elevation of the language of the coloniser’ (ibid pp 16). The author goes on to describe how the colonial school served to sever the child from his community and natural environment so that he came to see them as something other to themselves. This was brought about by the deliberate use of colonial language but also ‘the alienation became reinforced in the teaching of history, geography, music, where bourgeois Europe was always at the centre of the universe.’ (ibid pp 17)

            Not only did colonial education systems place Eurocentric learning material front and centre but colonial education was elitist and competitive, designed to select and mark out a minimum of the colonised population for secondary school, university, and then junior roles within the colonial administration. The aim was to train a class of the local population that could work to keep the colonial machinery in operation. This class needed to be culturally homogenous, replaceable and have a connection with the colonizing nation. As such the curriculum and pedagogies were devoid of developing critical thinking. Wa Thiong’o (1986) describes how, in Kenya, the only mark that mattered at the end of primary exams was English. Without a pass in English a child could not move up the educational ladder no matter how bright they were and how well they scored in other subjects.

            In Mozambique the intent on paper was like that of the British and French although the implementation of the colonial education system was hampered by the lack of development of the colonial power itself (Madeira 2005). In official Portuguese political discourses, the plan was to create a shared Portuguese culture across all of its ‘overseas provinces’ where black Portuguese citizens would be created. This plan was only haphazardly implemented and never came to fruition (ibid). Portugal had been economically dominant in the region of what is now Mozambique since the 1600s but towards the end of the 1800s Portugal itself had failed to industrialise to the same extent as other European powers and therefore was unable to promote the economic development of Mozambique (Cross 1987). Instead, from the 1930s it sought to use Mozambique to shore up its own economic position through the exportation of forced migrant labour and the provision of jobs in Mozambique for Portuguese settlers who lacked employment opportunities in Portugal. Thus, on the eve of independence the Portuguese ruled Mozambique directly from Lisbon with ‘the main objective [being to] quite nakedly to get the maximum benefits and profits…for the mother country’ (Gaster 1969 pp 151). The ‘almost absolute lack of African participation in positions of economic and political leadership’ (Cross 1987) was caused by a failure of the Portuguese to fully assimilate the indigenous population through education, creating a very weak, small, and fragile assimilado (‘Africans considered to have divested themselves of all tribal customs…and assimilated Portuguese values and culture’ (Cross 1987 pp 553))petty bourgeois.

In the early days of colonial education in Mozambique (1800-1930), education of the indigenous population was left to the catholic missionaries. However, by 1900, Portugal effectively only controlled around 10% of modern Mozambique and so influence in many areas was gained by the British through the activities of protestant missionaries (Madeira 2005). Madeira (ibid) claims that in the first decades of the 20th century up to 1948 there were more schools operated by protestant missions (and under the influence of the Americans and British) than there were catholic. The Portuguese state operating in Mozambique focussed its energies initially on the provision of public academic education for the children of white settlers, mulattos (people of mixed race (Cross 1987 pp 553))and assimilados. Education of the indigenous population was left to the missionaries who favoured literacy for the catechism and the elements of training needed for the indigenous population to fill the unskilled labour roles (Madeira 2005). This resulted in an effectively two-tiered education system within Mozambique where the indigenous population who had access to schools (most didn’t) was taught just enough to be able to read and write the catechism and to fulfil their role in society as forced migrant labourers (Cross 1987, Madeira 2005). The curriculum that existed was Portuguese in values and culture and Portuguese was the language of instruction, the use of local languages in the education system were banned in 1921. This system left Mozambique with a literacy rate that stood at 5% in 1967 (Gaster 1969).

The Mozambique Liberation Front, FRELIMO, was formed in 1962 from the fusion of several exiled organisations and succeeded in its aims of securing independence during the liberation war that spanned 1964 to 1975 (Cross 1987, Gaster 1969). From its inception FRELIMO was aware of the need for education (Mondlane 1967, Gaster 1967, Samuels 1971) to ‘train cadres and promote general literacy’ (Samuels 1971 pp 69). Thus, even during the war of independence FRELIMO started schools in the areas that they were active in and began a secondary school for refugees from Mozambique in Tanzania, called the Mozambique Institute (Mondlane 1967, Gaster 1969, Cross 1987). FRELIMO adopted Portuguese as the language of instruction ‘to unite all Mozambicans above diverse languages’ (Hall & Kidd 1978 pp 124), and they were aware that ‘education must prepare us to develop a new society and meet its demands’ (ibid pp 125). Education was thus seen consciously by FRELIMO to build a successful post-colonial society. However, despite efforts post-independence, the educational picture in Mozambique is still severely underdeveloped with a recent report citing an average years of schooling at 3.2 years of education amongst the population and high levels of illiteracy (Härmä 2016).

Section 2: The African learning crisis and Enko education

The educational situation in Mozambique presents echoes of a wider African ‘learning crisis’ (Oketch 2021) recently described as severe by the World Bank (The World Bank 2017). The argument put forward by Oketch (2021) is that the increased access to education brought about by EFA has caused a decrease in the quality of education in some African contexts, for example Malawi (Inoue & Oketch 2008, Härmä 2016). The crisis has arisen because schooling is not the same as learning. There has been improvement in access to schooling, but the quality of that learning is poor or declining with many children not meeting minimum indicators (Oketch 2021). Other authors cite country and school contextual factors to explain differences in learning outcomes for children in different African countries (Carnoy et al 2014). Studies show that a large proportion of students across Africa are 3 years behind where the curriculum expects them to be in terms of literacy and numeracy (The World Bank 2017).

Because of this perceived poor quality in public education many families have turned to the private sector. The education systems of low-income countries have witnessed increased privatization and the creation of education markets, through the rise of LFPS and an increase in Public-Private-Partnerships (Unterhalter et al 2020). Many authors have documented this trend (Tooley 2009, Härmä 2020) and there have been some large-scale studies examining the evidence of the effectiveness of private schooling (Day Ashley et al 2014). This is a global trend that affects many low-income contexts. Added to this learning crisis there has been an increase in the middle class of the Global South in recent decades who have been clamouring for more and higher quality education (Gardner-McTaggart 2014, Härmä 2016). One of the ways this demand for private schooling from an emerging middle class in Africa is being met is by private actors through for-profit education companies like Enko Education.

Enko Education is a for-profit educational company, inspired through the meeting of Cyrille Nkontchou, from Cameroon, and Eric Pignot, from France, at MIT Sloan School of Business in 2012. It has been funded by private and institutional investment finance from both inside and outside Africa including Proparco, Oiko Credit and Enko Capital (Materia 2021). The founders of the company worked in Management Consultancy and Finance in Europe before starting the company (according to their LinkedIn profiles). The founders were puzzled by the seeming lack of African students at their university, relative to students from other comparable regions like India (Allen 2020). Enko education was established with the mission to:

increase access to the world’s leading universities through high-quality international education.’ (Enko 2021).

To illustrate what Enko means by high quality international education, most Enko schools offer IB programmes as well as Cambridge International programmes. ‘World leading’ is an ambiguous phrase, but the fact that in 2017 a student from their first cohort gained a scholarship to study at Yale in the US (Allen 2020) serves to illustrate the company’s intent. Their aim is quite simply to help African students go to university in the Global North as this is where most world leading universities are located according to international ranking criteria. At an estimated 3000 USD cost per year in fees, Enko schools are catering for a growing middle class in Sub Saharan African countries. Currently they operate 16 schools across Africa with nearly 3000 students, with the first school being founded in Yaounde, Cameroon in 2014 (Enko 2021). Currently Enko has three schools in Mozambique: Enko Riverside which offers the IB DP; Enko Sekeleka which offers international A levels and Enko Benga which will offer programmes to both local and international students.

Section three: The IB

Whilst there are a variety of international curriculums available, here I will examine the IB which was officially founded in 1968. Its first programme, the DP aimed to provide a broad, balanced and challenging education that could promote international mobility by providing an internationally recognised university-entrance examination. The first DP exams were delivered in 1970, but its philosophical roots go back further (IB 2021b). The ideas that were embryonic to the IB can be traced back to the publication of a UNESCO booklet entitled “Do Education Techniques or Peace Exist?”by Marie-Thérèse Maurette (1948) who was the director of the International School of Geneva at that time. The concern for promoting peace continues to be reflected in the mission statement of the IB:

“The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.”

           (IB 2021c)

LanguageNumber of students taking exams
1st language exams2nd language exams
Amharic500
Arabic8641323
Sesotho12>10
Swahili38172
Ndebele0>10
Shona0>10
Zulu0>10
Table 1: African Language examinations taken by students in the May 2020 global IBDP Exams. Source IB Statistical Bulletin:

Today the IB provides four educational programmes for children from primary age all the way through to pre-university secondary level. All programmes are underpinned by a similar educational philosophy. At the time of writing there are 5,500 schools across 159 countries delivering educational programmes to nearly a million children (IB 2021a). Of these around 80 are in Africa or 1.5% of the total IB schools worldwide (Hill 2018). As of 2018 there were no government or state schools offering any IB programs in Africa despite attempts throughout the history of the organization for it to work with governments across Africa notably in Senegal and Ghana (Hill 2018). Uptake of the IB by African schools since the 1970s has been slow and not in line with the early vision of the founders who felt that the IB had something to offer the education systems of newly independent states in Africa (Bunnell 2016). Cost is identified as one factor for this slow growth (Bunnell 2016). IB programmes are expensive for schools to run and therefore most schools that offer the program are catering to communities that can afford this type of global education, so called traditional Type A international schools (Hayden & Thompson 2013). Other barriers to adoption of the IB by schools in Africa are cited as: lack of IB conferences and teacher support on the continent; the fact that the IB in Africa is managed from the Netherlands; and a Eurocentric bias in its pedagogical outlook and philosophy (Blunnel 2016).

The IB emphasises constructivist, learner-centred, and inquiry-based pedagogy being heavily influenced by the pedagogical approaches of John Dewey, A.S. Neil, Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner, all of whom were influential educationalists in the early to mid-20th century (IB 2021b). These principles are at the core of all IB programmes and are highly aligned to current global education policies. In addition to its core pedagogy IB programmes aim to be broad and have strong focus on languages. Students from around the world can take their DP subject exams (like maths, history or science) in English, French or Spanish and can study a variety of world languages as a first or second language. It is also possible for schools to request language exams for languages that may not have a large representation globally. Table 1 shows the number of students who took first or second language exams in each African language available in the May 2020 DP exams.

Section four: Underdevelopment

In the first three sections I have examined the colonial and post-colonial education system, the rise of private education in low-income contexts and the IB. In this section I will use the theoretical framework of underdevelopment as described by Rodney (2018) to analyse these trends.

Africa, taken as a whole, has been drastically underdeveloped by its historical interactions with Europe, according to Rodney (2018), who describes how the pre-colonial trading relationships between Europe and Africa, served to widen what was only a narrow economic gap initially around 1500 into a chasm by 1870. It is claimed that these trading relationships, which were focussed on the exportation of human beings from Africa, served, in the main, to stall the development of African societies from this point on. Several reasons for this stalling are claimed, but primarily it was the forced exportation of human labour, which is the foundation of development, that was the keystone of underdevelopment. These relationships also corroded social relationships within African societies.

Rodney (2018) contends that because of the stagnation of development in Africa through pre-colonial trade, European imperialists were able to invade and dominate the African nations in the colonial period. Education was seen as necessary to change the population to accept colonial administration, as discussed earlier. Education during colonial times, developed an administrative middle class in many countries, who had vested personal economic interests in keeping the economic relationships established between the colony and mother country intact. As Wa Thiong’o (1986) writes: ‘By education children are brought up in the culture, values and world outlook of the dominant class which may or may not be the same as the class of their birth and family. By choice they may opt for one or the other side in the class struggles of their day’ (ibid pp 104). This policy has been documented in Mozambique by the creation of assimilados despite the Portuguese being less successful in this than the British or the French. Writers like Fanon (1961) described how, following the liberation movements across Africa, the stage would be set for a new relationship: neocolonialism. In neocolonialism Fanon (ibid) describes how ‘the former dominated country becomes an economically dependent country’(ibid pp 77). He goes on to write that ‘the colonies have become a marketthe important thing is not whether such-and-such a region in Africa is under French or Belgian sovereignty, but rather that the economic zones are respected’ (ibid pp 51). After independence and in the neocolonial period, the ruling political elites who have been educated under the colonial system have more in common with European interests and less with their countrymen. Fanon describes these political elites as ‘spoilt children of yesterday’s colonialism and of today’s national governments, they organise the loot of whatever national resources exist’ (ibid pp 37).

The adoption of the IB by Enko schools in Mozambique sits in this historical narrative and has implications that need to be considered in this light. From this starting point we will examine first how the Enko model of education fits into this narrative followed by the role of IB in supporting decolonization in societies like Mozambique.

Section 4.1 The Enko model

As presented, the Enko model of education, provides access to international education programmes, at a fraction of their normal cost, to African students to enable them access to universities in the Global North. International education programmes are adopted as these are seen to be of higher quality than the state education system and easily recognisable by admissions officers at universities in the Global North. Although there is a focus of getting access to university more broadly (not every African student in the schools can win scholarships to Yale), the stated intention is to gain admittance to ‘world leading’ universities. Although the term ‘world leading’ is appropriately ambiguous for marketing by implication this means access to universities outside of Africa. Afterall, according to data, only four African universities make it into the top 500 global universities, with highest placed being at number 226 (QS 2021). For the sake of this paper, I assume that by world leading, Enko means ‘outside Africa’. This model when analysed by the underdevelopment framework presents several issues.

The model of European finance providing investment to African children to attend universities in the Global North is reminiscent of situations described by Rodney (2018 pp 258) where colonial governments provided investment opportunities for their businesses, seemingly to develop Africa but which ultimately benefited the colonial state. In similar fashion with the Enko model, investment is provided to Africans to ultimately pay very high international student fees to relatively expensive universities in the Global North. Thus, investment ultimately goes to providing income for the education industry of the Global North. During the colonial period, trade from Africa to Europe and America was encouraged to the exclusion of trade between Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Colonial powers blocked development of machinery and skills within Africa in the colonial period to ensure that African industry did not compete with European industry. By focussing on world leading universities (as measured by western metrics) history is in danger of being repeated through modern trade in educational markets. This situation potentially leads to further underdevelopment of African universities and is in danger of creating educational dependency on Northern educational institutions. Dependency is increased because more Mozambicans become dependent on the northern education institutions.  In time these individuals may have a vested interest in maintaining this economic status quo.

Clearly capital is needed to run schools, but the profit motive shifts the overall aim of education away from the needs of individuals and their communities and to the needs of shareholders keen to recoup their investment. Afterall, these schools are creating and exploiting an education market, and aiming to make a profit; any excess that is made is not necessarily entirely reinvested back into them, as would be the case in a not-for-profit private school. For-profit schools have been known to close at short notice when the profits do not materialise, putting children, who may be halfway through a program, at a severe disadvantage, particularly if there is no alternative provider of the same program (Jones-Nerzic 2020). Making a profit is therefore the primary aim, education is secondary.

The financing of these schools through investment by Global Northern finance illustrates Fanon’s markets as quoted above and means that ultimately any profits made by these schools are taken out of Africa and back into the Global North. This clearly serves to underdevelop the community as money that is made by families in Mozambique for example, is used to pay schools fees, some of which goes into paying teacher salaries and other administrative costs but some of which finds its way back into the Global North via the repayment of loans and profits to non-African shareholders and finance. This ultimately leaves fewer financial resources available for the local communities than if these schools were run by the government or as not-for-profit entities. It could be argued that without the profit motive, investment would not be available to run these schools which provide education and employment. I would argue that every government has an obligation to provide quality education for all its citizens and investment in education should be provided through these channels for the ultimate benefit of society.

International education of this type may bring benefits to the individual, but the benefit to the wider Mozambican society is harder to ascertain. Individuals who reap the benefit of this education and move abroad are not likely return unless there are suitable jobs and opportunities for them to do so, a problem that schools like Enko do not seem to address in their mission. This model potentially serves to increase inequality in Mozambican society as the very poorest are excluded from these opportunities. By overlooking this, these schools could potentially contribute to continued underdevelopment of the society by encouraging the removal of human resources from Mozambique, creating an additional problem for the government: providing suitable opportunities to encourage diaspora to return and loss of intellectual talent needed in society. It seems unlikely that this model of schooling will help to provide Mozambique with more Doctors, nurses, and teachers. Here we see the tension between the needs of developing individuals and the need to develop a society. I argue that education of this sort is not helping to create a socially just society and will continue the legacy of European interaction with Mozambique as highlighted in the quote at the beginning of the essay.

Section 4.2 An international education

Some writers have highlighted the problems arising from transplanting IB programmes into non-Eurocentric cultural contexts. Drake (2004) examines the cultural dissonance and tensions that arises from the implementation of the IB in Hong Kong for example. The pedagogical approaches that the IB favours were developed in the context of liberal democracies where individual freedom is stressed. These educational philosophies reflect the societies that they were gestated in and may not always be appropriate in all cultural contexts.

Liberal individualism runs to the core of IB philosophy and educational approach, not surprising considering that the key educational thinkers who the IB based its approaches on were all European or American men and were developing their theories within the liberal culture of those societies. Thus, the drive for learner-centred, inquiry-based education where the individual student takes control of their learning has roots in this Eurocentric way of understanding the world. Not all societies place such emphasis on the individual and it is documented that pre-colonial education within African societies was generally based on the needs of the society not the individual. Education may be beneficial for the individual but if there are no jobs suitable for the individual to come back to then it won’t benefit society but instead continue its underdevelopment.

Not only is the IB Eurocentric in its educational philosophy but it is also Eurocentric in its content. There is some scope for African study in history and through African languages, but as a science teacher of IB curriculums I know there is little to no mention of African scholarship in these curriculums. The narrative of these subjects is firmly outside Africa. In the IB DP biology curriculum there is no mention of any African scientist or the contributions of Africa to the advancement of scientific knowledge. In fact, the guide for DP biology only mentions Africa once as, a side note. This lack of African perspective demonstrates a possible lack of involvement by Africans in the development of the content. For biology alone it is possible to find examples of content that could link well to the African context for example the development of knowledge in biochemistry from foodstuffs derived from Africa.

African writers have provided ample examples of the misfit of European based education programs under colonialism being imposed on African society (See Wa Thiong’o 1986, Rodney 2018 pp 300-304) and I do not have space to include them here. But these programs served to Europeanise the indigenous population and ‘it followed that those that were Europeanized were to that extent de-Africanized, as a consequence of the colonial education and the general atmosphere of colonial life’ (Rodney 2018 pp 304). If international education is really going to serve the interests of African societies, then it needs to become more culturally sensitive in terms of its philosophy and content, allowing more flexibility to and representation of local needs and wants in its educational approaches and providing more input from African scholarship across its content. Even in Enko schools which employ African teachers (not necessarily local teachers) the head of school is normally from the Global North. This individual is likely to have limited sensitivity to the issues raised here and will be steeped in the cultural atmosphere of international education as described above.

Finally, the IB provides access to its curriculum in the colonial languages of English, French, and Spanish, so that students can study their entire DP in either of these languages if they wish. It is interesting to note that even in Mozambique, FRELIMO decided on using the language of the coloniser in its educational system with the aim of uniting different groups. Other African writers have criticised the adoption of European languages as national languages by independent governments and emphasised the need to adopt local African languages. While the use of European language by governments may have been pragmatic, it is a symptom of the neocolonial relationship. If this is the case, the IB would do well to adopt an African language more broadly in its African schools.

Conclusion

I set out to explore the question “To what extent can low fee international education programmes, aid the process of decolonization in post-colonial Mozambique?”. My argument suggests that the model of for-profit low-fee international education programs risks continuing the process of underdevelopment and increasing dependency. It potentially does this is by making the better off and more educated members of Mozambican society dependent on higher education institutions located in the Global North. Society in Mozambique cannot fully decolonise until Higher Education institutions of quality are developed and economic opportunities for skilled individuals become available in the country. This requires investment from the government. In a sense we are witnessing the creation of education markets in Mozambique. It is my contention that these markets serve to strengthen the position of northern higher education institutions.

 Another way dependency is increased is through the removal of capital from Mozambique back to institutions outside of Africa. The for-profit model does not ensure that finance is contained within the communities the schools serve and it promotes loss of intellectual talent. If those individuals that can access higher quality education ultimately leave the country, then developing a robust, independent society in the long run is potentially hampered. These relationships mirror many of the situations of the colonial period of Africa as described by Rodney (2018). Ultimately the exportation of finance and human capital to the Global North from the Global South will not serve to build an independent Mozambican society in the long run.

Finally, the pedagogies encouraged by the IB are Eurocentric in philosophy and origin, while the content taught in many courses could be developed further to encompass more of the African local experience and context; I provided one example for one course but there is scope that this could be the case in other subjects. The involvement of more diverse viewpoints in the development of IB content would be one way that this organisation could aid the decolonisation process.

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  • QS (2021) https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/world-university-rankings/2022 accessed 21st July 2021.
  • Rodney (2018) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Verso. London. New York.
  • Samuels, M.A. (1971) The FRELIMO School System. Africa Today. Vol 18. No. 3 pp 69-73.
  • Tooley, J. (2009) The beautiful tree: a personal journey into how the world’s poorest are educating themselves. Cato Institute. Washington
  • The World Bank (2017), The Learning Crisis. Learning to Realise Education’s Promise. World Development Report. Washington DC.: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank (Part 2). http://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/wdr2018 accessed July 2nd 2021
  • Wa Thiong’o, N. (1986) Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. James Currey. Woodbridge.
  • Unterhalter, E, Ron Balsera, M, Dorsi, D (2020) What can be done? The Abidjan Principles as a human rights framework to evaluate PPPs in education in Critical reflections on Public Private Partnerships Gideon, J & Unterhalter, E Editors. Routledge.
  • Vincent, W. (2021a) To What Extent Could Low Fee Private Schools Aid Development in The Republic of South Sudan. EDPS0057: Education and International Development: Concepts, Theories and Issues. UCL IOE. Unpublished Essay.
  • Vincent, W. (2021b) Can The Expansion of Private Schooling in Developing Countries Serve To Improve Access, Efficiency, Quality and Equity in Basic Education: The Case of Primary Education in The Republic of South Sudan. SOCS0020: Economic perspectives on education policy. UCL IOE. Unpublished Essay
Categories
Coordination Teaching & Learning

Parental engagement with learning

Originally posted on June 7, 2019 @ 3:07 pm

Notes from pre sessional reading of NPQSL session 4, leading affective partnerships. The pre-reading was the report Engaging parents in raising achievement Do parents know they matter?”

Underpining this policy is the central tennet that parental engagement makes a significant difference to the educational outcomes of you people and that parents have a key role to play in raising educational standards.

Reference to Every Parent Matters (DofE 2007)

In demonstrating that families have a major influence on their children’s achievement in school and through life. When schools, families and community work together to support learning, children often do better in school, stay in school longer and like school more.

Parents have the greatest influence on the achievement of young people through supporting their learning in the home rather than supporting activities in the school – parental involvement rather than parental engagement. Activities not directly connected to learning have little impact on pupil achievement.

Schools that offer bespoke forms of support to these parents (i.e. literacy classess, parenting skill support) are more likely to engage them in their child’s learning. Schools should constantly reinforce the fact that parents matter. (For the DP it is important to make the parents feel included).

There are barriers to engaging parents such as lack of time, language barriers, child care issues and practical skills such as literacy issues and the ability to understand and negotiate the school system.

How can the DP program engage parents to help students learn? Parental engagement and personalising provision for them as learners could be NPQH project! 🙂 We need parent and student voice.

The empirical evidence shows that parental involvement in learning is one of the key factors in securing higher student achievement and sustained school performance (Harris and Chrispeels 2006).

Longitudinal studies such as those conducted by Sylvia et al (1999) and Meluish et al (2001) provide the most recent research evidence about parental involvement. These studies reinforce the impact of parental involvement in learning activities in the home with better cognitive achievement, particularly in the early years. In contrast parental involvement acted out in the school confers little or no real benefit on the individual child, though it is valuavle for the schools and parents in terms of community relations.

Parental involvement takes many forms including good parenting in the home, including the provision of a secure and stable environment, intellectual stimulation, parent-child discussion, good models of constructive social and educational values and high aspiration relating to personal fulfillment and good citizenship; contact with schools to share information, participation in school events, participation in the work of the school, and participation in school governance.

This is because parental involvement inititative presuppose that schools, aprents and student are relatively homogenous and equaly willing and capable of developing parental involvement schemes, which is not always the case. We need to be mindfull of the differences between parents.

Mothers feel more involved than fathers. Primary more than secondary. Whilst many paretns wanted to increase their involvement to include for example supporting extra-curricular initiative, they felt that the main barriers to further involvement were limitations on their own time.

Individuals with positional ambition increased their education further in order to maintain a relative advantage. As Lupton (2006) points out ‘most working class parents think education is important but they see it as something that happens in the school and not the home’.

Across all groups, students did better if their parents helped them see the importance of taking advanced science and maths courses and took them to exhibitions, science fairs and the like. Parents who are more involved with their adolescents schooling, regardless of parents gender or educational level have offspring who do better in schools irrespective of the child’s gender, ethnicity and family structure.

Parental involvement, especially in the form of parental values and aspirations modelling in the home is a major positive force shaping students achievement and adjustment.

Working class parents face certain institutional barreiers as schools are middle class institutions with their own values. If the IB is western organization to what extent does the IB philosophy act as a barrier to parental involvement?

Schools that succeed in engaging families from very diverse background share certain key practices. They focus on building trusting collborative relationships among teachers, families, and community members; they recongnise, respect and address families needs as well as class and cultural differences. There needs to be strategic planning which embeds parental involvement schemes in whole school development planning.

Help parents understand elements of the curriculum, advice about revision techniques at KS3 and 4 as well as more divers activities designed to stimulate parental engagement with schools and raise parents aspirations for their children.

How can we get DP parents into school?. Dads and lads maths events, centering on cars and football. family learning events and helping parents understand the contemporary curriculum and homework/coursework. Parents attending parent and child learning events. or attend help your child learn courses. Booklets for parents on the same subject and allowing parents to shadow a year group during a school day to experience contemporary schooling for themselves.

Courses on parenting, on family issues, these events provided not only expert advice from teachers or other agencies (Parent Line) but allowed parents to discuss family and learning related issues with peers. Their focus was on the parent-child relationship. The provision of parent handbooks was also successful; parents reported satisfaction with the availability of information and the ease of finding the information needed. Schools engaged mentors for students and supported both students and their parents about issues of attendance and punctuaity. A number of schools targeted year six pupils and parents offering support and pastoral care around transition for both groups. Other schools responded to parental requests for support in specific areas.

Some schools did institute a cycle of “you said, we did”, and found that increased parental engagement with the school. Other schools made it clear in their reports that their conception of intelligent reporting was still a front ended one, originating with the school and ending with the parent. Schools have reduced and simplified their reports to parents, on the basis of parental preference; language used in reports has been made consistent and staff workload reduced, as reports are shorter and more to the point, staff have agreed that the new systems instituted are a different way of working, rather than more work. Parents can now access online, real time data for their own children, leading to family conversations with have had a beneficial effect on behaviour.

Parental engagement is not about engaging with the school but with the learning of the child. We could give a weekly coordinators learner profile award, voted for on Friday. Awarded on Monday.

Student don’t seek parental engagement with school activities but engagement and participation in their learning. Parental engagement policy? Homework policy in the DP?

Students were very clear that parental interest in their education had a direct and positive effect on in-school behaviour. Good behaviour was not reinforced and bad behaviour was not punished.

Homework – either in terms of monitoring it or helping with it – came from far down the list of activities valued by students and yet it is often the way that parental engagement is understood.

The data suggests that while involvement in homework is of value, in and of itself it doesn’t fulfll the prescriptions of students needs. Rather it is the beginning of the process that should lead to deeper discussions.

When parents feel that they have the opportunities, skills and knowledge required to help their children, they are more likely to be engaged. Such reluctance or reticence on the part of parents is a powerful signal to their children that education is not valued or indeed valuable.

Categories
Education Teaching & Learning

Philosophy 4 Children

Originally posted on June 4, 2019 @ 9:48 am

This week on Sunday and Monday I took part in Philosophy 4 Children training at our campus. One of our curriculum objectives in Secondary is embed the concepts of Theory of Knowledge (a core component in the IB Diploma Programme) horiztonally and vertically through the Secondary Curriculum. The TOK course is concerned with developing students conceptual understanding of how knowledge is produced and utilized across the subject areas. It challenges kids to think about how knowledge claims can be justified and supported.

At the same time, our primary colleagues have been exploring how Philosophy for Children (P4C) can be used to improve children’s abilities to reason, justify and explain their ideas about broad topics.

One of the benefits of working in a K-12 school is that we can combine PD between Primary and Secondary which allows for some eye opening sharing of teacher classroom practice. This training provided a good opportunity for me as a curriculum leader to not only learn about P4C as a concept and teaching tool, but also to see how it might enable Secondary teachers to get a better grip of managing dialogue and understanding of abstract concepts in the TOK course.

During the training we encountered a variety of warm up activities that can be used to get thinking and discussion going, as well as a full P4C inquiry which is a structured 11 step process for generating a conversation about an abstract question. I am not going to write up all the activities that we did in this post as I tweeted an ongoing thread throughout the training detailing all of the tasks we used.

The first observation I had was that the P4C model of inquiry is highly structured, providing a scaffold for all learners (teachers included) to work through their thinking about a topic. Following the 11 steps from a real stimulus to a discussion about an abstract concept allows even someone who is relatively unconfident in this area to succeed in generating thinking and discussion.

Commentators who were following my thread were quick to point out that int there experience, P4C training was some of the best training for TOK teaching that was available.

Indeed, it became immediately apparent to me that the 11 step full inquiry is a perfect model for generating knowledge questions, one of the key, and most difficult steps for TOK learners to get. Here is a method that can be directly applied in TOK classrooms to help students unpack knowledge questions from a stimulus or real life situation. With practice, I am confident that many teachers would be able to use this model to help them develop TOK thinking.

In other secondary subjects, this model can also help teachers and students to unpack TOK concepts related to their subject area. For example in natural sciences, some of the key TOK concepts relate to models, uncertainty, inductive and deductive reasoning, falsifiability among others. Using the NoS statements from the subject guides with specific real life examples like models used to predict climate change as a stimulus, this model could be directly applied in the IB Biology classroom to help teachers and their students generate knowledge questions from examples in their syllabus.

Recently, I have been thinking about how I can get my IB biology students more engaged with real world issues or deeper conceptual questions like “what is life?”. I have lots of ideas for stimuli but beyond creating a DART or questionnaire linked to the podcast, video or reading I was at a loss as to how to generate deep thinking and discussion.

This tool, I believe, has given me the key to help my students, think about and generate questions in response to stimuli, and provide a basis for fruitful discussion about the topic of interest.

For example, I am thinking about how I can really engage my students with the issue of climate change, so that as well as learning about it from the biology syllabus, the learning develops real meaning and significance for them so that they are inspired to run a CAS project around the issue etc. I had an idea of using some of the recent planet earth documentary as a stimulus but was unsure how to use it. Now, myself, the Lang B teachers and the geography teacher are collaboratively planning to address this topic in sequence and we will think about how we can bring the 11 steps inquiry into our planning.

I am convinced that P4C is an excellent foundation for TOK, both of which are programs that can help student think and question more deeply as well as become more engaged with big ideas and questions.

P4C is broad, it is concerned with thinking about any of a range of concepts that could be thought of as philosophical. TOK is narrower in focus, and, in a Venn diagram, would sit inside the concepts of P4C. P4C can be focussed on knowledge, TOK is concerned only with inquiry about the nature of knowledge. Both programs are concerned with linking the real world stimulus to the abstract theoretical concept. The P4C 11 step scaffold provides an excellent ladder to allow learners to move between the real and the abstract.

Categories
Coordination Teaching & Learning

Authentic learning, real world meaning.

Originally posted on April 28, 2019 @ 7:40 am

After reading Mary Myatt’s “The Curriculum”, I’ve been beginning to spend some time thinking about how the IBDP can provide opportunities to make the students work more purposeful via opportunities for authentic performance. In her chapter on Beautiful work she writes:

“children’s work should be honored. It should be of the highest quality and it should also have an audience.”

She goes on to quote Ron Berger “Once a pupil creates work of value for an authentic audience beyond the classroom – work that is sophisticated, accurate, important and beautiful – that student is never the same”.

So far I’m thinking about elements common to all Diploma students:

  • The Group 4 project: this is a collborative 10 hour project that student teams composed of students from different subjects work on together. The project is not assessed but is mandatory. The theme is set by the school and in four schools over 10 years this has usually involved the HOD Sci using a word like colour or survival. However there can have some real world stimulus like the UN sustainable development goals to focus the project. The students would design experiments along this theme and then present their project to the wider school community and guests.
  • CAS: Im not an expert here by any stretch and you could argue that CAS is already the most authentic part of the DP. What could be more authentic than working on projects that have direct application in the real world? but how many projects in schools around the world actually do? Is there scope here to raise the bar? the students CAS project could also center around a real world stimulus, the activity stage focussed on taking action in some way, again an exhibition to the community could be used to sum up students work in some authentic way.
  • TOK: TOK has a heavy summative assessment component with a 1600 word academic essay and ten minute presentation, I would be loathe to add to this…but, the presentations could definitely be delivered to a wider audience..school assemblies, some other exhibitions or the community could be invited to the assessment itself.
  • Extended Essay: With over 40 hrs of work and 4000 words in the making the extended essay is a beast for most students. There are issues with it and you could already argue that, as a piece of original work, it has real world application. This year we are taking the small step to publish our students TOK and Extended Essays together in a volume, a bit like a journal, with work from some of our Visual Arts students work being used as the cover pieces. But I also like the idea of having student’s undertake a more public viva, like a PhD defense. Clearly, an EE is not a PhD but can we make it so that the process is less tick boxy and more formal? I am keen to hear what other schools do.

With all these things I think about scalability. What works in a small school doesn’t necessarily work in a very large one. Ok, sit through 2 group 4 presentations but 30? So instead schools could ensure that some students present at one event and others at another, so long as each student gets some opportunity to deliver their work meaningfully in the real world.

I realise that my ideas are a little unoriginal and perhaps I am a little bit behind the times (some schools are already doing great work) focussing mostly on presentations and exhibitions, what do you think? How else could we make our student’s DP work have more real world meaning?

Categories
Coordination Teaching & Learning

The role of curriculum

Originally posted on April 13, 2019 @ 10:00 am

In the second NPQSL face to face session we looked at leading the quality of teaching and learning within a school. We were asked to think about what high quality teaching and learning looks like in our schools and what this means to us personally. This provided some good reflection time for my own thinking about this means for me. I concluded that high quality teaching and learning is where students are forced into thinking about the topics of the subject under discussion. Thinking takes variety of forms. For me and my project, focused on implementing the DP, TOK is the key to horizontal collaboration within the DP programme, catalyzing not only a change in the way that student think but also how teachers think. Going forward I need to Establish a working group of teachers who are interested in improving their links to TOK.

At the start of the session on “driving the quality of teaching and learning” we were asked to list three priorities with regard to the quality of teaching and learning. Mine were:

  1. Making thinking the basis of both
  2. Developing good knowledge of the whole curriculum (Martin Robinson’s story)
  3. Developing knowledge of good practice – can the teacher make reasoned judgements about why they do what they do.

We then considered learning centered leadership: – how do we model, monitor and have dialogue. My group felt that it was important for leaders to be:

  1. Modelling preparedness, calm, openness and friendliness
  2. Still teaching?
  3. Using data
  4. Observations
  5. Conversations
  6. Diagnostic audit of peoples and there skills

Next we were asked to list ten ingredients for great teaching and to discuss why leaders may want to observe lessons, what the purposes of lesson observation were. My ingredients for great teaching were:

  1. Dialog
  2. Content knowledge
  3. Pedagogical content knowledge
  4. Evidence for teaching practice
  5. Prior knowledge
  6. Contextual – relevance for kids
  7. Focussed on concepts
  8. Timing – knowing when an intervention is appropriate or not
  9. Collaborative – outside the silo
  10. Firm friendliness

I also felt that observation is a great way to learn and be coached and time for teachers to observe each other is valuable if we want to enable coaching, mentoring and further development.

After sharing these within our groups we had to decide on the groups final five. We had a lot of good discussion about how learning is often confused with performance and other proxies, and that learning is actually quite a hard thing to actually observe in a lesson. Any attempt to observe a lesson for accountability purposes was doomed if you are hoping to look measure learning. Instead my group agreed that the best we could hope for was to look for proxies that may indicate high quality teaching. My group decided that our priorities were to look for :

  1. Positive relationships
  2. Feedback
  3. Knowing the students
  4. Knowledge of content and pedagogy
  5. High Expectations

I reflected that evidence is a key thing here: Knowledge in education is so tentative and unsure that no one can say with certainty this is right, or this way is wrong. Thus if we focus on the thinking behind what teachers are doing and why – are teachers able to engage with discussions and evidence why they are doing somethingt. To ensure great teaching I think it is important for leaders to smile, be open and approachable. We need to encourage discussion between teachers about their practice, provide opportunity for observation between teachers and focus more on teaching and learning, instead of getting drag into secondary tasks.

Going forward I need to work to facilitate this in my community and help to provide opportunity for this to happen, time for teachers to observe each other and time for them to have discussions with a view to improving the quality of teaching within the school. I need to support a focus on developing an understanding of the links between the subjects – horizontally and vertically – and encourage teachers to come out of the their silo.

How might this session influence your staff professional development policy?

How can you measure the impact of CPD? Carry out observations of trying out TOK activities, carry out a staff survey, have the CPD, start the written curriculum and then observe more activities and carry out an additional survey. Invite staff to take part in TOK and ATL collaboration.

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