The challenges that meet the education system reform
Educational systems all over the world were called to address the global shift in social, political and economic conditions. This shift required to review whether it was going to keep pace with global developments. Along with other initiatives, the education system was also identified as one that required to be evaluated. It needed to be enhanced to meet the new challenges in these days. The students coming out of the educational system should have the necessary knowledge and skills to take the country to new heights of technological, economic and social development.
The background to the study is that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) clarified that education should be free and compulsory for all people. Since the Declaration, the world has tried to take steps to achieve this goal. Education is the focus of attention across many countries because it has a bearing on all aspects of development. For example, if people obtain the necessary literacy and skills, they can be employed, leading to increased economic development. Another aspect is that skilled people show more willingness to participate in governance. Active participation will decrease social fear. Education can give people confidence and create equality in the society. (2005. Dissertation Paper)
The importance of education was recognized in the World Education Forum in 1990, “Education for All” (EFA). It emphasised that primary education should be made available to everyone and illiteracy should be appreciably reduced by the end of the twentieth century (2001: UNESCO). Since EFA, many countries have reviewed the education system and related policies in their countries. EFA said that getting education for everyone constituted a fundamental right; this was also an equal right of all people.
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) declared the completion of universal primary education (UPE). All countries are required to provide primary education. The reason why education is so much emphasised again is because education will increase productivity and earnings of workers, and liven up the economy. (2005: Dissertation Paper.)
From the Czech Republic to Spain, from Austria to the UK, higher education reform is high on the political agenda of numerous countries. The special characteristics of the educational reforms and their exact timing may differ, but not their overall goals and thrust. Recognition and an awareness of international trends have been on the rise (Van der Wende 2000) as shown by comparisons across nations, based on OECD publications. It not only shows the shortcomings, but also challenges traditional perceptions that place educational institutions and universities exclusively in the cultural sphere (Pechar 1999: 73) and about higher education’s role. (Helga A. Welsh 2004)
The focus of this area of proposed study relates to the education systems reforms. Hence, I will clarify in this research some ways of restructuring the education system and how it can be suitably modified to suit the needs of Qatar. Reasons for changing any educational system will also be discussed. There are a lot of challenges in designing or implementing the educational reforms, which will also be the subject of my discussion.
In general, Globalization and new technologies allow people to share information rapidly and provide an extraordinary chance to nations all over the world to adjust the value and efficiency of their education systems. Hence, enhanced education secures a better future for the people, encourages economic growth and a holistic development, making the world a truly global village. Governments should take a special approach to reform its educational policies. Whilst becoming a part of the global village may seem attractive, government intervention is necessary to ensure that such a change is managed. This is so that cultural, moral, social values of the society are preserved, and not totally mutilated.
Qatar is small Arabian state in the Arab Gulf with a small population that the leadership had an ambition to develop in all its aspects. Development in the area of education is the key to economic and social development. The RAND Corporation’s services were engaged; (RAND is a non-profit-making research organization having conducted objective studies, provided helpful clarification, and produced effective results on the challenges faced by the public and private systems in the world). It was made to examine the current system and give its recommendations. It was to identify new policies options and implement the appropriate option that matched the needs of the State. This was to achieve the holistic development, as Qatar invested heavily in gas and oil industries since it has one of the largest gas fields in the world, which is its main wealth.
The reason for this step was because the visionary, His Highness the Emir of Qatar also sees education as the key to Qatar’s economic and social progress. His Highness’ concern that the country’s education system was not producing results of high-quality and was inflexible, outdated, and resistant to reform, made him ask the RAND Corporation in 2001, to review the kindergarten to grade 12 (K–12) education system in Qatar. Qatar wished to have various options for developing a world-class education system in line with other Qatari steps it was taking for social and political change. In November 2002, the State of Qatar formally embarked on the Education for a New Era (ENE) reforms and set up a new K–12 education system.
The ENE had as its overall goals the improvement of student outcomes (broadly defined), enhancement in the problem-solving and critical-thinking skills of students, to provide them with the opportunity to socialize and play a more active role in their communities and civic culture, and place the State of Qatar as a world leader in education.
ENE reforms were commenced by Qatar to remove perceived short-comings in the quality of the K–12 education offered to its students. Prior to ENE, many of Qatar’s students were retained each year, tutoring after school was normal as parents felt that their children were not given sufficient learning in Ministry schools, and most secondary school graduates were also not suitably prepared to enter selective postsecondary institutions or take up science- and technology-related jobs. This lack of quality resulted from a number of problems present in the education system as a whole (Brewer et al., 2007). The Ministry of Education did not have the vision to implement its goals or to initiate change. Instead of being proactive, it reacted to problems as they arose, adding departments or processes in a piecemeal fashion rather than with a coherent vision in mind.
The Ministry’s hierarchical organizational structure did not encourage improvement or change. Although the Ministry was very structured, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders did not know to whom to go to for their suggestions or complaints because the lines of authority were vague. Similarly, there appeared to be little effort from the Ministry to approach its stakeholder population and understand its needs.
Students were taught an outdated and rigid curriculum, and teachers had to follow
Ministry-directed lesson plans each day. Added to this, there were too many subjects to cover in the time allotted, resulting in superficial content coverage.
Initial review of the information reveals that overwhelming numbers of teachers are not satisfied with the professional development of teachers at present. A figure with the relevant responses is presented below:
Figure 1 –Zellman, Ryan, Karam, Constant, Salem, Gonzalez, Orr, Goldman, Al-Thani, Al-Obaidli (2009)
Capacity building measures are certainly called for. With the complete focus on delivery and lecturing, few opportunities existed for student-teacher interaction in the classroom. The lecture style also did not allow teachers to adapt their approaches for students with varying abilities; learning in the Ministry schools was based on rote memorization.
There was very little authority or flexibility for school administrators. The Ministry assigned principals to buildings, assigned teachers and other staff to schools, and provided furniture, equipment, textbooks, and all other instructional materials.
Finally, the system did not facilitate performance evaluation for either the faculty or the students. Although teachers were held accountable for executing the centralized curriculum, no one was held accountable for students’ performance. There were no system-level goals for student outcomes; teachers and administrators could not gauge whether their efforts were increasing students’ knowledge or improving their skills.
To address the problems of the Ministry system and improve the rigor and quality of Qatar’s education system with the goal of preparing Qatari graduates to contribute to and participate in a globalized economy and an increasingly democratic state, Qatar’s leadership pursue a comprehensive education reform rather than target one component of the education system (Gonzalez , Vi-Nhuan Le , Broer , MarianoJ. Froemel , Goldman , DaVanzo 2009)
The design and the implementation of the reforms present an approach for developing a standards and choice-based system along with the traditional system.
The following section further elaborates upon the reasons for, and objectives of the proposed research.
Objectives and Research Question
The aim in this dissertation is to critique and examine the challenges that occur when planning to modify an educational organisation, or designing to restructure a nation’s educational scheme, or in implementing a reform program. I will also consider the reasons that make the reform essential, for instance, to meet the requirement of labour markets, to reach holistic development in all aspects and discuss many reasons that lead to a crucial change in the educational system. In conclusion, the instance of how the reform can be achieved, in the case of Qatar, will also be examined. This is based on the following key research questions:
1-What are the challenges that can be faced when we set out to reform an educational system?
2- Why is there a need to reform any educational system?
3- How can we reform the educational system in Qatar?
The above questions are answered through an in-depth analysis of the available literature.
Methodology and Methods of Data collection
The methodology adopted will centre upon the use of secondary data to answer the aforementioned questions and formulate conclusions.
Secondary data review:
Secondary data collection source will primarily be through the internet. Leads will be obtained from net resources, they will be explored and articles, journal papers, research papers and books will be reviewed, for seeking answers to the three aforementioned questions.
Secondary data collection and review will encompass reports and publications by international organizations, such as the United Nations, (UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP), and other documented papers on international country reform programmes relating to education.
Substantial work has been done by the eminent research organization, The RAND Corporation, relating to the educational system in Qatar. Published material on this subject and their, findings, suggested solutions and impact of implementing their solutions will be analysed.
A critical qualitative review of existing and relevant literature available will be used for this research. It has also been suggested that more qualitative work needs to be done to investigate the resources employed in the medium of teaching instruction in the more obviously successful schools. In addition, results other than just test scores, such as graduation rates, college attendance, or parental satisfaction, should also be considered in broadening the definition of successful schools. These can be compared with the test-based criteria to assess whether the various measures conflict with other steps taken (Gonzalez, Tanner and Goldman. 2009).
Limitations that could hinder the achievement of the proposed results of the research will also be elaborated upon. Thus, dependence on secondary resource means that information will be taken from other sources and as such might not be completely applicable in answering the questions posed. Contradiction in authorized mechanism and literature could question the reliability of the information on education reform. The time also could be another limitation for this research. In fact, three months is not enough to carry out a comprehensive and exhaustively research work and to cover the available literature. For that reason, the main essential literature may not be covered owing to restricted timeframe. However, I will work hard to cover the most known resources to carry out the research. The findings will clarify any limitations in the information in giving the derived outcome.
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