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Regular version of the site

The Study Has Revealed Slacker Lecturers

On September 13th 2011 a seminar by the HSE Institute for Educational Studies took place. Martin Carnoy, Professor at the University of Stanford and Academic Supervisor at the HSE International Laboratory for Educational Policy Research, spoke on ‘The Low Achievement Trap: Comparing Schools in Botswana and South Africa’.

The seminar was the first of the new academic year. It was organized by the HSE Institute for Educational Studies and ‘New School’, the expert group which provides recommendations for the problems of Russian socio-economic strategy up to 2020.

In his presentation Professor Martin Carnoy unveiled the results of some recent research, the methods of which are  useful in terms of studying the problems of education quality and accessibility.

For the researcher, the initial situation is that the pupils who participated in the study speak one language but since they live in two different countries, face different educational systems. At the same time, two parallel educational systems have evolved in South Africa for white and black students

In total, 60 randomly selected schools in each country were studied. 126 teachers and 5000 pupils were involved in the study. The main material for analysis was the results of math tests at the beginning and at the end of an academic year. The teachers also passed test tasks.

The speaker called the data on teachers’ absence at classes ‘shocking’. It became clear that teachers in South Africa spend only 40 percent of the time that they should in the class, and in Botswana about 60 percent. This can be explained by bad professional training and a lack of a structured system of continuing education and retraining in both countries.

Martin Karnoy believes that the study has revealed what actions in education can bring results and what cannot. For example, it is difficult to force the pupils to learn more, that’s why the teachers need special skills. It is extremely difficult to prepare good teachers, but if they do not know the educational material themselves, accordingly, the level of the pupils’ knowledge will not be high.  The results of the pupils in Botswana were noticeably better, and this can be explained by the fact that the country spends more resources on education than South Africa.

Isak Froumin, Academic Advisor for the HSE Institute for Educational Studies, called Martin Karnoy’s study an exemplary one which gives a clear view of what is taking place in the education system.

Andrey Shcherbakov, HSE News Service

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