Education is so closely tied to human global progress and equality that it must be considered an essential human right, publicly provided free of charge through a minimum basic level worldwide. If education is secular and rational, for given countries proven correlations include health, wealth creation, democracy, peace, social harmony, reduced population growth, self-confidence, and reduced superstitious beliefs. My belief is that the basic level should cover the range from Early Childhood Education to university bachelor education and technical school education.
For clarity, ECE paid directly by government programs should be available starting at two years of age through to primary school, and would be a combination of ESE and day care. For children under two, if desired, early childhood education would be promoted by appropriate parental leave. ECE is essentially learning by play to allow children to learn physical skills (eyesight and motor skills), social skills, emotional skills (connections and self-confidence), language skills (expressing feeling and vocabulary acquisition) and cognitive skills (problem solving, creativity, imagination and memory). ECE is shown to significantly improve students' future success. This would include decreased mental health problems, increased self-sufficiency, increased graduation and reduced requirements for special education. ECE also significantly increases educational equality, reducing or removing typical gaps between low and high-income students. Specifically, ECE is shown to reduce arrests, teen pregnancy and drug abuse, and increases full time employment and health. Particularity for lower income ECE students the social benefits appear to more than pay for the costs. This also means the increased taxation of the rich and larger businesses are repaid for their taxation costs.
Basic education from primary school to high school should be based on best world practices. Although there is a wide range of rankings on the internet, in my opinion, Finland has the best world practices.
Principles of Finland education include:
• No standard testing. No standard testing except the National Matriculation Exam
• No structured accountability for teachers. The performance bar is set so high there is no requirement for rigorous grading systems. If an individual teacher is not performing the principal addresses the issue.
• Basics are a priority. A happy, healthy and harmonious learning environment is encouraged..
• Consistent instruction. Students have the same teacher for up to six years. The teacher is more of a mentor and sets and develops individual goals.
• Less homework and outside work required.
Most specifically, over work and rote memorization are avoided and Finland education is more enjoyable and personally fulfilling.
All levels of education must be based on current best practices and current reality. Some concerns include:
• Some current public schools require balanced coverage of creation and evolutionary biology.
• Economics: I have recently being learning that Gross Domestic Product is an extremely poor measure of economic value, that public debt relative to GDP is much more flexible than currently perceived in many situations and economics is even worse at evaluating the level of humanity. Economics courses would include economic goals and would develop and provide the framework for national and world economic practices to try to reach those goals.
This column is an attempt to provide my best solutions to make education a true human right. As always solutions that help us move towards the goal should be promoted.
As with other human progress concerns, many third world countries are rapidly catching up with western democracies on quantity and quality of education.
Bill Stollery is a retired construction manager living in Penticton Aspiring author “How WE Can Save the World.”