Quality management at school: Global view of QM on the web-site for teachers and learners of English as a secondary language from a German point of view
go back to the table of contents
Table of contents
Global view of QM HOMEback to the homepagePAGE back to the previous page back to
Comparisons between
pedagogical and economic terms of QM
go on to
USA
on to the next page


September 6,1999

The Big Test
Across the world, education reform is now seen as indispensable to economic success.
Fine; but remember the children.BY MICHAEL ELLIOTT

It has become the closest thing to a global conventional wisdom: a nation's economic prosperity is intimately tied to its stock of human capital, and its human capital depends on the quality of its educational system. And so, in rich countries and poor, from suburbs of the United States to crowded Asian cities to jungle clearings in Latin America, schools have quietly become an extension of economic policy. But as our stories on the following pages show, what this means, in practice, varies widely across the globe.

In Asia, whose educational achievements were, but yesterday, the stuff of envy in the Western world, a reform movement is questioning first principles. Perhaps, Asian reformers ask, the last two generations got things wrong - in stressing order, discipline and a mastery of basic techniques, educationalists lost sight of the need to develop habits that enable people to think outside the box, to be "creative". In the United States, by contrast, the movement is all the other way. There, educational reform questions whether the hurly-burly of American schools adequately equips children for the challenges of adult life. And so - unnoticed in most of the rest of the world - a great change is sweeping across America, with the systematic testing of children's knowledge now dominating the school year.

All of this is fine, in its way. Yet to reduce schools to elements of economic policy is not without risks. For explicitly, such a view places children at the front line of social change, heaping demands and expectations on those who may not be mature enough to deal with them. Last week, the British newspapers reported the suicide of a 16-year-old gifted student who threw herself off a multistory car park when she had a writer's block on the first day of her examinations. "Perhaps," The Times of London reported her headmaster saying, "schools generally and parents need to give more thought to the problems such children can face."

Wise words: and ones that apply not just to schools and parents. The international media have tended to think of globalization as mainly a function of commerce and culture. But increasingly, nations and peoples are trading their experiences in other areas - health care, providing for the elderly and now education. At Newsweek International, we are convinced that this expanded definition of globalization will become more and more important. The following stories on school testing are a sign of our commitment to that belief.


go back to the table of contents
Table of contents
Global view of QM HOMEback to the homepagePAGE back to the previous page back to
Comparisons between
pedagogical and economic terms of QM
go on to
USA
on to the next page