Qualitative Education, Not Only on Paper

News 2It is no secret, that qualitative education plays a key role in the socio-economic development of countries. However, ensuring the conformity of education to current requirements is an unusually complex task, in view of the absence of universal recipes and policies in this sphere. Many modern specialists and institutions prepare publications, dedicated to urgent issues of the reform of national education systems, including in Ukraine. Recently a group of specialists from the World Bank has prepared in-depth research on «Skills, Not Just Diplomas: Managing Education for Results in Eastern Europe and Central Asia».

The authors of the publication substantiate the theory that if economic growth today is limited by the global financial crisis, then in several years, and even now, the lack of qualified employees, the deficit of which could significantly hinder economic progress, is one of the key influences. So this research is an attempt to answer the following questions. Why are companies in this region continuously facing a lack of qualified university graduates? What measures have been taken in the countries of this region to resolve this problem?

The research has outlined the main reasons for the lack of a qualified workforce in the countries of Central Europe and Central Asia. Experts sum up that the legacy of the times of central planning has led to these countries devoting too much attention to ensuring adequate funding for education, rather than the analysis of actual study results. No significant progress can currently be seen in the development and implementation of a system for the monitoring and evaluation of the quality of students’ learning and the success of the job placement of university graduates (as was the case in OECD countries in the 1980s). Consequently, as noted in the document, national education policy is conducted without clear orientation points, which significantly complicates the making of necessary and effective political decisions in this sphere.

The existing management system limits the ability of education institutions to influence the teaching process and does not allow local authorities and representatives of the public to initiate the modernization of study programmes in order to better satisfy the needs of the labour market. This, together with limited autonomy and responsibility for the results of the teaching, leads to decreased incentives for improving the quality of education and, as a result, to the stable lack of qualified personnel in most countries of the region.

Among the reasons for the inadequate status of the university education system, the authors also cite the reduced quality of preuniversity, secondary school education. The lack of qualified personnel is caused not only by the unsatisfactory quality of education services at this level, but also the insignificant progress in providing teaching staff the opportunity to attend advanced training. The authors have classified Ukraine as part of the group of countries, where the development of their own system of instruments for the evaluation of learning results has begun and where there is only a certain participation in international evaluations.

Experts recommend that for the elimination of the negative impact of the above mentioned factors, the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia should reorient their national education systems towards attaining qualitative results. To achieve this, it is necessary to ensure the more efficient monitoring of the study activities of students and learn their perspectives after they have gained their qualifications (what disciplines the students are learning, job placement and the salary level after the completion of studies). It is also suggested the positive experience of the transition from a centralized education management system to one, directed towards results, as was the case in such countries as Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Romania, etc.

Experts stress that this transition should provide greater autonomy to educational institutions and the optimization of accountability mechanisms (for example, in the sphere of contracts and budgeting, it is necessary to rely on the study results, rather than on specific standards). If there is a greater quantity of data on the results of study and providing that educational institutions are given autonomy, as indicated in the research, realistic pre-conditions in countries will inevitably emerge for the better satisfaction of the needs of the labour market for a highly qualified workforce, trained by national educational institutions. The higher education system also requires more consummate mechanisms for controlling the quality of teaching and learning, including via the more active circulation of information regarding its results and the job placement of graduates (the monitoring of indices, compilation of university ratings) in order for potential students to make considered decisions, when selecting their future profession. In addition, the adult education system has to work efficiently.

Prepared based on the following materials: World Bank: Skills, Not Just Diplomas: Managing Education for Results in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

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