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As modern education continues to develop and grow, most would assume that parents would be happier with their children's learning opportunities. And while many parents are satisfied, there is still a surprising number who are not. Not that long ago, a survey was conducted that took into account 27,000 parents' perspectives on their children's education. There were many insights gained from the survey, most of which paint us a clear picture of what parents around the globe really think of their children's schools, teachers, and learning methods.
Let's take a closer look at the survey's results as well as what parents want from their children's schools and how modern education continues to lean toward online learning and the use of technology in the classroom.
Findings From the Survey
The survey revealed parents in Kenya are more than satisfied with the quality of learning their children are receiving. Similarly for those raising children in Singapore and China, it is agreed upon that modern education has significantly improved over the past 10 years.
Another interesting finding of the survey was that students in the United Kingdom, which tends to be home to wealthy families, receive little help from their parents when it comes to their schoolwork. On the other side of the fence, though, students in India and Vietnam get quite a bit of help from their parents.
Parents from many countries were included in the survey, including those from:
- United States
- South Africa
Even though we are constantly hearing of frustrations with the modern school system in regard to a lack of funding, the survey clearly outlines that parents from all over the world have a lot of faith in their children's teachers and schools. The survey itself was conducted by the Chief Executive of the Varkey Foundation, Vikas Pota, who also operates the annual Global Teacher Prize event.
Pota says the survey "shows that parents, especially in emerging economies, are taking their role in education seriously by devoting many hours a week to help their child out of school ... However, governments need to support parents by ensuring that under-pressure school budgets are protected—and by reversing the cuts in education aid in the poorest parts of the world."
Some of the key findings of the survey are listed below.
Modern Education Survey: Key Points
78 percent of student's parents from around the world rate the quality of teaching and learning in their children's schools as only fairly good or very good. 45 percent of the parents say the quality of their children's schools is good. However, an amazing 50 percent claim if there was extra funding available for their children's schools, the monies should most definitely be spent on employing additional teachers or increasing the pay of the current teaching force.
Parents that are happiest with their children's schools are from thew following countries:
- Kenya (92 percent)
- United States (91 percent)
- India (87 percent)
- Estonia (87 percent)
- UK (87 percent)
- Finland (87 percent)
- Australia (86 percent)
- Indonesia (86 percent)
- Brazil (85 percent)
- South Africa (84 percent)
Another notable finding of the survey was that 45 percent of parents who get to choose which schools their children go to pinpoint the location and the quality of teaching as the two most pertinent factors in choosing which school to enroll their children in. And while it would be comforting if a large percentage of parents felt schools were properly preparing for the future, only a mere 64 percent believe the schools are preparing the students well enough to find success in the world of 2030 and after. This belief is held the most in Indonesia and India. Parents from Africa and Latin America hold this belief more than parents from the majority of European countries.
When parents were asked about their largest concerns regarding the future of their children, 42 percent of them stated they feared a challenge in their children being able to land a successful career and 34 percent had a concern for the rising cost of living. While Latin American parents are very determined to have their children attend a university after high school, only 40 percent of parents from around the world consider a university as important to their children's success in life.
The survey revealed some very interesting facts about parents and their involvement in helping their children with schoolwork and other aspects of education. In fact, only 25 percent of parents spend at least seven hours a week helping their children. When you go over to India, however, you'll find 62 percent of parents helping their children for a minimum of seven hours a week, and in Vietnam, 50 percent of parents help, while 39 percent in Colombia devote this amount of time to helping children with schoolwork. Even more surprising is that the survey highlighted the fact that parents with children in school who live in established countries are devoting less time to helping their children. Only five percent of parents in Finland help their children at least seven hours a week. Only 10 percent in Japan help their children for this amount of time as well as in France. In the UK, 11 percent of parents help their children.
A specific question that was asked in the survey was "Do you think the standard of education in your country has become better or worse (or the same) over the past 10 years?" The top countries that believed their children's education had become better included Vietnam, India, South Korea, China, Kenya, Singapore, and Indonesia. The top two countries where parents believed the education had become worse were France and South Africa.
Charter-Parents vs. District-School Parents
A survey was conducted in 2016 that discovered charter parents are happier with certain aspects of their children's schooling than district-school parents; these aspects include:
- Teacher quality
- School discipline
- Character institution
On the other hand, though, district-school parents were more satisfied from a general overall standpoint. It was also discovered charter-parents do, in fact, have more extensive communications with teachers and school personnel than district-parents. However, charter-parents have a greater issue with extracurricular activities than other parents.
How Is Education Going to Get Better?
In order for modern education to get better by the year 2030, an additional 25.8 million teachers will need to be hired. Why is there such an urgency for teachers and how is a lack of funding impacting this shortage? Answering these questions is essential in being able to achieve quality education not only in well-established countries but especially in those that are marginalized.
If we want quality teaching, we have to employ qualified teachers. And as stated above, we need 25.8 million more teachers to ensure all children receive a quality education that propels them toward a future of success. And not only are we seeing an increase for K-12 teachers, but we need an additional three million preschool teachers. Studies are proving that preschool learning is vital to educational and learning success. According to a 2015 UNESCO report, a mind-boggling 250 million children do not acquire the ability to read and write even if they have spent several years in a learning environment. Perhaps this is because we have failed in employing quality teachers.
So even if we devote a large amount of funding to making sure every child receives an education, unless it is a quality education, we are wasting our money. Just because we have students in the classroom doesn't mean they are actually learning. We NEED teachers who know how to effectively teach; this is where our funding should be directed to.
We are noticing several causes of the increasing need for teachers. First and foremost, we have a rising demand. The number of school-age children is higher than it ever has been, so we are needing more teachers to meet this increasing number. Unless we employ more teachers, we are going to have higher pupil-teacher ratios, which detrimental to learning environments. We need small classrooms to ensure each children's educational needs are being met.
And the loss of current teachers is also impacting the need for more teachers. As we hire new teachers, we are losing our existing ones. So instead of adding to the current teaching workforce, we are simply replacing the ones we are losing. It's like taking one step forward and two steps back. We simply can't keep the pace. Even though there is quite a demand around the entire globe for teachers, the highest demand is in the sub-Saharan Africa area, which ironically accounts for 66 percent of the teachers needed by the year 2030. But if our current trends continue universal primary education will not be achieved by 2030 and not all students will receive a quality education.
Also interesting is that some students are far more negatively impacted by the shortage of teachers than others. In fact, marginalized children (those living in rural areas, girls, ethnic minorities, and students with disabilities) are the most affected. In Ethiopia, a study was conducted in 2014 and found that in two of the more remote rural regions, only one percent of the teachers in those areas were actually trained primary teachers. When compared to urban Addis Ababa, though, the percentage shoots up to 43 percent.
It All Ties Back to Funding
There is a high percentage of teachers who are both undertrained and teaching with few resources. According to many experts, we need adequate funding in order to appropriately address the issues that come along with the global teacher crisis. Even recruitment, training, and teacher retention rates are influenced by funding levels. From 2015 through 2030, it is predicted that the annual financing gap will be $39 billion; this gap represents our inability to achieve a universal quality education.
It is also believed that this funding gap can only be closed by first starting to increase domestic spending. However, many countries go against the grain when it comes to allocating a recommended 20 percent of their government spending toward education. Because of this, it is becoming vital that donor contributions increase as well as domestic spending.
What About Online Learning for Children?
Some people believe that online learning for children serves as a major fix for many of the issues that parents are concerned about. Online learning is much like the traditional school learning environment. Children get up each morning, get dressed for school, but instead of rushing to the school bus, they head to their computers and log on to start their day of school. Many of these students attend live lectures at least one time a week in which they use a webcam to interact with their teachers and fellow students.
Technology has definitely revolutionized the way children can learn. And while online learning was at one time believed to be only for college-level students, we are seeing again and again the benefits that it brings to children in school. The International Association for K-12 Online Learning reveals an astonishing quarter-million of K through 12th-grade students were enrolled in online learning on a full-time basis in 2011. Compared to the prior decade (40k to 50k students), you can see that online learning has become increasingly popular.
There are many reasons as to why parents are choosing virtual online learning over traditional school settings. According to Molly, mother of an online student, she says she chooses online learning for her child because it allows the family to "be on our own schedule." Elizabeth Friscia, another parent of online students, says she chose a cyber charter school for her children because of its ability to teach them how to be independent and responsible. Friscia goes on to explain that for her daughter Jayne, seeing how she has learned to be responsible for her schoolwork has been phenomenal. "In a brick-and-mortar school, Jayne was doing what she was told to do all day. Now she has more flexibility... but it took her nearly a year and a half to get her to where she understood the concept of being responsible for her own work. This is something most of us don't learn until college."A large percentage of other parents choose this format of learning because they believe they gain more control over what their children learn as well as how they learn it.
The Vice President of State and District Services at iNACOL as well as a former online teacher, Allison Powell, says, "We had all kinds of kids [enrolled in online schools]. We had homebound kids who couldn't go to school because of a medical issue. We had actors, Olympic athletes, and other people who were not living in one place for a long time...I also had a couple of kids who were bullied at their regular school, and I had one family that was very religious, and the mother would supplement online learning with religious studies."
Another reason virtual online learning is becoming so popular is because it allows the learning process to be tailored to fit each student's academic needs. Many online programs provide an assessment at the beginning of the semester and create a customized lesson plan for each student based on their own needs and preferences. The assessment itself helps pinpoint which areas the students struggle with and which ones they show strength in. Even better is that the students can advance according to a pace that is aligned with their learning capabilities. This allows some students with advanced learning capabilities to complete coursework and move to higher-level learning much more quickly than they would be able to in a traditional classroom. Essentially, online learning provides quality learning at its finest.
What Do Parents Really Want From Modern Education?
There are five key components that parents would like to see more of in their children's schools:
- Rigorous academics
- Increased and equitable funding
- More technology in the classroom
- Career and technical education
- Postsecondary education for their children
It's pertinent to understand that standardized test scores don't automatically showcase the quality of a school's learning environment. Fortunately, 49 percent of Americans don't look to these test to determine which schools are best for their children. A poll was conducted at the Leadership Conference Education Fund, and two of the more important aspects looked at by parents in determining the quality of teaching their children were obtaining included their child's report card grades as well as the ratio of teachers and students. It was also found that parents (36 percent) highly favor schools that teach their children interpersonal skills. 25 percent viewed technology and the availability of engineering courses as pertinent in determining the quality of learning their children were receiving.
If we are going to improve the quality of learning, we have to hire more teachers, and most importantly, we have to recruit qualified teachers. To do this, we need to put initiatives together that provide incentives for teachers to teach in disadvantaged or rural schools as well as put together some type of plan for the government deployment of teachers.
Since we are losing teachers at a faster pace than we can hire them, it is crucial that we increase teacher salaries, especially for those who have advanced certifications and qualifications. Did you know in certain parts of the world that teachers don't even make enough money to push them over the poverty line? Recruiting talent requires attractive salaries, and we have to find a solution to our lack of funding in recruiting these teachers.
Lastly, we have to make sure the teachers we are employing have a solid knowledge of the core subjects they are teaching. We can't pull an algebra teacher to teach American history and expect students to receive quality learning. And since teacher training is lacking, we must find a viable solution to this issue, such as distance learning and mentorship.