education

“They’re coming up every morning, just like churches,” Peter Kari, a father of two living in Nairobi’s Kawangware slum, says of the private schools mushrooming in his neighbourhood. “They die as they’re being born. You can wake up one morning and see a tin shack. The other night it was a pub. Today, it’s a school.”

A ride down one of the main roads in Kawangware offers evidence for Kari’s claim. Within five kilometres, there are at least fifteen visible signs for private schools, with names like ‘Brightest Star,’ ‘Top Shine,’ ‘Springs of Wisdom,’ and one (see photo) unfortunately misspelt ‘Havard.’ Read more

It’s a few minutes into Marion Akinyi Onginjo’s social studies lesson at Bridge International Academy Gicagi in Nairobi and the class 4 teacher is being drowned out by loud cheers next door.

Bridge International Academy Gicagi, Nairobi. Photo: Tosin Sulaiman

Class 4 finally gets its chance to make some noise when one student, Margaret, correctly answers a question about subsistence crops. After Onginjo tells the class, “let’s give Margaret the cowboy cheer,” they stand up, spin imaginary lassoes in the girl’s direction and yell, “One, two, three, four, five, yee-hah.” Read more

At the entrance to Shomaa Impressive School, a compound of 11 classrooms built from thin wooden boards in the Lagos slum of Makoko, prospective parents are greeted with a banner showing four children in graduation gowns and the motto “Raising future professionals”. Just as the message is crafted to appeal to the aspirational market traders and fish sellers who send their children to the nursery and primary school, the daily tuition fees averaging less than $1 a day are also tailored to their modest budgets.

Schools like Shomaa, which has around 100 students, are contributing to a boom in private education in Lagos and other cities in Africa.

A pupil at Shomaa Impressive School, Makoko, Lagos. Photo: Tosin Sulaiman

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By Wale Tinubu of Oando PLC

The tragic case of the more than 250 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in northern Nigeria has shone an international spotlight on education in the country and generated much-needed dialogue in Nigeria about strategies to improve the country’s education system. The actions of these dangerous terrorists continue to present a considerable threat to education in a region already beset by high levels of illiteracy.

Education faces daunting challenges throughout Nigeria. Some parents do not believe it matters, while others strive to provide it but cannot afford it. Whatever the reasons, the reality is one we must tackle head-on. Read more

“Anyone who says that Africa is missing the Millennium Development Goals is missing the point.” You might expect such a tart statement about a canonical organising principle of development policy to come from one of the aid industry’s many curmudgeonly sceptics.

That it came instead from Jan Vandemoortele, a Belgian economist who helped create the United Nations MDGs in the first place, raises questions whether propagating a single set of targets to drive government policy across the entire developing and emerging world is worth doing at all. The “sustainable development goals”, successors to the MDGs, are currently being developed, but the unfortunate signs are that they will be yet more complex and yet less meaningful than the originals.

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You might be awkward in the spotlight and less than attractive but that need not stop you from becoming a television star, according to a burgeoning industry that has sprung up in Seoul to train and groom would-be TV announcers.

Korea’s three major broadcasting companies hire only three to five announcers a year, typically to host news or entertainment shows. The jobs are in high demand – a recent opening at the SBS network attracted 2,000 applicants – reflecting the prestige of the country’s successful entertainment industry, as well as an increasingly tough jobs market for young graduates. Read more

Poland has the EU’s best growth record in the last five years, but there is a growing awareness that keeping growth high is going to be increasingly difficult in the future – which is why two recent reports on corruption and educational achievements make such good news. Read more

Brazil and Turkey, long the laggards of the OECD’s triennial Pisa student tests, still lag behind the rich countries of the world when it comes to education.

But look at the improvement in the results over the past decade and a different picture emerges. In a trend that is almost unnoticed amid all the carping at poor standards, the young in both countries are much brighter and much cannier in maths, science and reading. Read more

If a county’s future wealth and influence can be assessed by its American-educated intellectual elite, then China is well set.

In less than a decade, the number of Chinese studying in the US has quadrupled, from a little over 60,000 in 2004, to almost 240,000 in 2013, a report from the Institution for International Education shows. China now accounts for almost one in every three international students in the US, a historic high for any country. Read more

As the FT’s Daniel Dombey pointed out recently, Turkish women have a pretty raw deal. For example, just 28 per cent of them participate in the labour force. Yet, as underlined by their showing in this year’s street protests, many of them have undergone a terrific shift in attitudes over the past decade, from a relatively conservative worldview to a more liberal one. Read more

Ru xiang sui su – when entering the village, follow its customs. So runs the Chinese proverb. Ever since China entered the global village in 1979, it has followed one global custom with particular enthusiasm: learning the English language.

This week, however, it began to follow it less enthusiastically. The English language section of the gaokao, China’s national university entrance exam, was downsized. The move will delight many – but what about the country’s Rmb30bn ($5bn) English teaching industry? Read more

March 2011

A three-week teachers’ strike in Oman suggests that the genie of unrest is out of the bottle in this unassuming corner of the oil-rich Gulf.

The strike has affected up to three quarters of Oman’s roughly 1,000 schools, where open dissent is becoming a regular occurrence since the strategic sultanate had its own outburst of Arab spring-inspired unrest in March 2011. Read more

Education in Brazil has been one of the hottest sectors for private equity wheeler dealers in recent years. Little surprise, then, that some are looking to cash out now.

The latest is GAEC Educação, which on Friday filed plans to raise as much as R$626m ($282m) through an initial public offering. Read more

Investors may not look at school attainment rates very often but perhaps they ought to. Study the indicators and you see that – in terms of education at least – Sri Lanka far outshines the rest of south Asia.

The country is far from paradise. Sri Lankans hunger for a lasting peace after a long and painful civil war; sections of the Tamil minority still complain of repression. But the country’s record in education at least holds out some hope. Read more

Indian education desperately needs improvement. As the government is looking to raise the pupil-teacher ratio in government schools (as part of the Right to Education Act), even the poor are sending their children to fee-paying schools.

Perhaps India can get better value for money out of their teachers? A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research has found that low cost, untrained contract teachers are no less productive that the formal option. Is there a solution here for a debt-laden public sector? Read more