Sunday, September 30, 2012

Education Sector Of Mozambique And Ethical Issues

The need to eradicate poverty through increased literacy
One of the central goals defined by the Government of Mozambique in its long-term development strategy is "poverty reduction through labour-intensive economic growth". The highest priority is assigned to reduce poverty in rural areas, where 90 percent of poor Mozambicans live, and also in urban zones. The Government recognizes also that, for this development strategy on poverty eradication to succeed, expansion and improvement in the education system are critically important elements in both long-term and short-term perspectives.
In the long term, universal access to education of acceptable quality is essential for the development
of Mozambique´s human resources, and the economic growth will depend to a significant extend on the education and training of the labour force. It is very important to develop a critical mass of well trained and highly qualified workforce which in turn will improve the overall literacy, intellectual development, training capacity and technical skills in various areas of the country's economic and industrial development.
In the short term, increased access and improved quality in basic education are powerful mechanisms for wealth redistribution and the promotion of social equity. This policy is consistent with the provisions of the new Constitution of Mozambique adopted on 16 November 2004, in its articles 113 and 114 which deal respectively with education and higher education. Around the year 1990, the Government of Mozambique decided to change its social, economic and political orientation system from the centrally-planned system inherited from the communist era and adopted a western-style of free market system. At the same time, it was also decided to adopt fundamental changes in the education programmes. Since drastic changes and wide ranging effects were resulting from the adoption of the new economic and political orientation, it was necessary to provide new guidelines and rules governing the management of institutions of higher education.
The struggle continues: "a luta continua" !
The economic and political changes were progressively introduced with success through legislative and regulatory reforms. However, it has not been very easy to evenly change rules of social and cultural behaviour. In particular, vulnerable younger generations are the most affected by the rapid changes in society, while the reference model and values they expect from elder people in the modern Mozambican society seem to be shifting very fast. And in some instances, there seem to be no model at all. The new wave of economic liberalism in Mozambique, better defined by the popular concept of "deixa andar", literally meaning "laisser-faire", was mistakenly adopted as the guiding principle in the areas of social, cultural and education development.
The "laisser-faire" principle is better understood by economists and entrepreneurs in a system of open market and free entrepreneurship, under which the Government's intervention is reduced to exercising minimum regulatory agency. The recent considerable economic growth realized by the Government of Mozambique (10% of successive growth index over four years) is attributed mainly to this free market policy. This principle should be carefully differentiated from "laisser-aller" which, in French language, rather means lack of discipline in academic, economic, social and cultural environments.
Reforming higher education institutions represents a real challenge, both at the institutional and pedagogic levels, not only in Mozambique, but elsewhere and in particular in African countries faced with the problem of "acculturation". The youth seeking knowledge opportunities in national universities, polytechnics and higher institutes, where students are somehow left on their own, having no longer any need to be under permanent supervision of their parents or teachers, are disoriented. Since reforms in higher education institutions take longer than in any other institutional environment, it is necessary indeed to adopt adequate transitional measures to respond to urgent need of the young generations.
This essay reviews current trends and the recent historical background of higher education institutions of Mozambique. It argues against the adoption of the classical model of higher education from European and other western systems. In its final analysis, it finds that there is need to include ethical and deontology (social, cultural and moral education) components as priority sectors within the curriculum in higher education institutions, with a view to instill in the students and lecturers positive African values in general, and in particular, national Mozambican models. It is rejecting the neo-liberal thinking, which proposes that students in higher education institutions should be allowed to enjoy unlimited academic, social and intellectual uncontrolled independence, in conformity with western classical education and cultural orientation. It advocates for critical thinking and brainstorming on key issues towards the development of positive cultural and ethical models in higher education institutions which could be used to promote knowledge development and poverty eradication in the country's rural areas and urban zones affected by unemployment, pandemics and economic precariousness.
The colonial legacy and its cultural impact on higher education in Mozambique.
Many experts have described the Mozambican mother of higher education as an institution for colonialists and "assimilados" . The first institution of higher education in Mozambique was established by the Portuguese government in 1962, soon after the start of the African wars of independence. It was called the General University Studies of Mozambique (Estudos Gerais Universitários de Moçambique EGUM). In 1968, it was renamed Lourenço Marques University. The university catered for the sons and daughters of Portuguese colonialists. Although the Portuguese government preached non-racism and advocated the assimilation of its African subjects to the Portuguese way of life, the notorious deficiencies of the colonial education system established under the Portuguese rule ensured that very few Africans would ever succeed in reaching university level. However, many educated African were led to adopt the colonial lifestyle.
In spite of Portugal's attempts to expand African educational opportunities in the late 1960s and early 1970s, only about 40 black Mozambican students - less than 2 per cent of the student body -had entered the University of Lourenço Marques by the time of independence in 1975. The state and the university continued to depend heavily on the Portuguese and their descendants. Even the academic curriculum was defined according to the needs and policies defined long ago by the colonial power.
Soon after Independence in June 1975, the Government of Mozambique, from the FRELIMO party, adopted a Marxist-Leninist orientation and a centrally planned economy. The educational system was nationalized, and the university was renamed after Dr. Eduardo Mondlane, the first president of FRELIMO.
Many cadres trained in Portugal and other European and American universities came also with their own educational and cultural background. Apart from the Eduardo Mondlane University, new public and private universities and institutes were established. These include the Pedagogic University, the ISRI, the Catholic University, ISPU, ISCTEM and ISUTC. Most of these institutions adopted a curriculum clearly modeled on the classical European model. There is still need to integrate African traditional values in the course profiles offered and research programmes developed by these institutions.
The traditional role of a university is to enlighten and serve as a reference within the society: "illuminatio et salus populi". Today, Mozambique is one of the most culturally and racially diversified society of Africa. This diversity should be considered as a cultural treasure for the nation. It has become however apparent that it's more a "Babel Tower case", as no unified Mozambican values appear to develop from this wide variety. With the creation of new public and private universities and new faculties, it would become easier to increase a critical mass of university lecturers and academic professionals, who would in their turn, influence the society, creating and instilling national positive values and ethical principles of conduct in the younger generations. According to many lecturers and students contacted at UEM, Universidade Pedagogica UP and UDM, the impact of higher education on the development of positive academic, scientific, social and cultural values in Mozambique is yet to be felt.
It is however necessary to acknowledge the importance of newly introduced community-based education programmes in some institutions. For instance the emphasis on community and service has guided curriculum development at the Catholic University; its course in agronomy (Cuamba) concentrates on peasant and family farming systems and leans heavily on research and outreach within local farming communities. The CU course in medicine (developed in collaboration with the University of Maastricht) which concentrates on teaching medicine, was particularly deemed appropriate for the rural and urban poor populations of Mozambique, as it is more based on problem-solving and focuses much more on traditional issues.
New Reforms in higher education institutions with a more participative approach
Mozambique is one of few countries in Africa where a new generation of leadership has stepped forward to articulate a vision for their institutions, inspiring confidence among those involved in higher education development and the modernization of their universities. In a series of case studies sponsored and published by the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa , it was confirmed that African universities covered by the studies have widely varying contexts and traditions. They are engaged in broad reform, examining and revising their planning processes, introducing new techniques of financial management, adopting new technologies, reshaping course structures and pedagogy, and more important, reforming practices of governance based in particular on their own contexts and traditions.
Important institutional reforms concerning the strategic planning experiences of the Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) were initiated and implemented so far. Two strategic planning cycles were developed, the first in 1990 and the second one in 1996 / 97. The second one was meant to adapting to the impacts of newly adopted multi-party democracy, market competition, and globalization. Whereas the first reform cycle was the result of high level officials at the University, the second one was generated using a participatory methodology deemed to be more effective in involving the university staff in the process.
It is important to listen to everyone, and to be seen as listening. We are also convinced that various components of the population in Mozambique should be involved in the next phases of the process with a view to define what kind of education orientation the population would wish to have for their children.
There is important progress but yet limited academic impact on the development of the society
Considerable progress has been so far made in post-independence Mozambique. After the initial problems caused by the long years of civil war and then the long efforts necessitated by the adjustment to a market-driven economy and a multi-party democratic political order, Mozambique is now considered to have a higher education system that offers a wide variety of course options and extensive research opportunities. However, a major weakness highlighted by many observers is that all the institutions remain basically concentrated in the capital city of Maputo and its neighboring provinces. It is argued that they serve only a limited fraction of the Mozambican population, and are destined to train the elite of prominent people in government and in the professions, industry and commerce. It is also alleged that the majority of the students who succeed in entering public and private institutions of higher education are from relatively rich families.
It is finally emphasized that nearly 80 per cent of university students in Mozambique use Portuguese as their principal means of communication, thus strengthening the perception of establishing, reproducing and consolidating a hereditary elite, with model values copied on western societies. In response to this challenge, it was suggested that the government should encourage the emergence of new and non-traditional HEIs closer to the local communities, able to respond more rapidly and flexibly to the demands and expectations of the public and private sectors for a high quality trained workforce, while addressing both regional and socioeconomic imbalances in the country.
In our final analysis, we find that the impact of higher education institutions on the development and dissemination of traditional African social and cultural values would be very limited for a long period. As long as the access and feed-back from all levels of the society and regions will be left out of the core interaction with the highly educated elite and higher education institutions mainly concentrated in Maputo, the role of universities in promoting African positive values, a culture of academic ethics and deontology in the entire national society will be very limited.
The process of "Nation building" needs to rely on a strong academic support. One of the Government's main constitutional commitments is to promote the development of the national culture and identity (article 115 of the 2004 Constitution). It is clear that many institutions, for instance the television, are actively promoting cultural diversity through various means. Institutions of higher education should be seen doing more, in particular starting with the students themselves and the academic community members, who are expected to be the light of the society. Such actions would include the integration of courses on ethics and deontology, and develop a wide-ranging variety of education models that reprove negative behavior and promote positive values. Our recommendation is that the Government should for example instruct public universities and other higher education institutions, to appoint "Ethics and Deontology Committees" at the level of their University Councils and within all autonomous faculties.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Education IRAs and Other IRA Accounts

Most high school graduates are pretty much on their own when it comes to furthering their education, since parents are not able to help due to the increased cost of living throughout the United States. This was usually the case until just recently, when many different programs were developed for aspiring college students to make their dreams come true. Because not all students qualify for financial aid and other programs, they are left to cover the entire cost of their education, including books, lab fees, and living costs.
One program that was recently developed is the Education IRA, which works just like a retirement IRA. IRAs are meant to help people save up for a certain event in their life, like retirement or college education. The Education IRA is meant to help students save up for their college education, unlike other programs, which only offer tax incentives for high education expenses.
An Education IRA is a tax-advantaged saving account program that was created in 1997 by the Taxpayer Relief Act. Anyone is able to contribute to an Education IRA, whether related to the account beneficiary or not. There is a $2,000 maximum limit to an Education IRA, as long as the parent's earned income is under $190,000. Families with smaller incomes are able to make smaller contributions to the account, and individual filers are also granted the same option for contribution.
An Education IRA is very similar to a Roth IRA, since after-tax money is sheltered in an account to save up for a certain event. The money in the account will remain tax-free as long as all the money will go to education costs only. By setting a savings account up for education costs, a great amount of money can be made by the time a child is ready to continue their education. Education IRAs are best when they are started when the child is young, so they will have many years of built up interest to use for the child's education.
An Education IRA is a very effective method when trying to get money to put a child through college, since it is earned money rather than a loan. Because all of the money earned on an Education IRA is actually earned and not loaned, there will be no payments to pay back any costs of education. Education loans carry high interest rates and can take years to pay off, but Education IRAs can cover all of the costs without having to pay anything back.
Setting up an education IRA for children is very important, because it gives them a chance to go to college and pursue any dream they wish. With the costs of college education rising, it is important to have a plan to put a child through school while they are still young, until waiting until the last minute and having to take out loans or refinancing homes.
It is not necessary to contribute the entire $2,000 each year for each student, and you actually can choose not to make any contributions in a given year. You can contribute to the account each year until the child reaches eighteen years of age, with the exception of special needs children who can receive contributions after their eighteenth birthday. If funds remain in the Education IRA account after the school is paid for, it is subject to taxes and penalties that are determined by the bank. Unlike most other IRA accounts, Education IRA accounts allow you to withdraw money at any time. It is up to the account holder to make sure the funds are going toward education only, since this is what is outlined in an Education IRA.
You can contact your local bank or financial institution for more information on Education IRA or any other type of IRA accounts.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Physical Education in Our Schools

Physical Education is a vital part of our public education system. It is a key to improving a child's confidence, brainpower and long-term health. One of the major goals of physical education is to prepare students to be active and healthy for a lifetime. Physical education should be an integral part of the total education of every child in Kindergarten through Grade 12.
Recognizing the importance of physical education at a young age promotes healthy habits throughout life. As modern life becomes more sedentary and specialized, particularly for those who live in cities, the importance of physical education increases. It is important that children understand the importance of Physical Education and good health in their lifestyle. Schools should also recognize the importance of physical education.
One significant area of concern is the decrease in the physical activity of youth and of physical education in schools. The need for more physical education in schools is increasingly obvious to parents and healthcare professionals as well as professional educators. This is a great first step in elevating the role of physical education in schools.
Teaching physical education and play are as crucial to a child's development as any academic endeavor. Teaching physical education majors study the effects of physical activity on the body and mind, especially in the development of young people.
Physical education is a supremely important component of a child's development. Physical Education is an important aspect of a total education. Again one of the major goals of physical education is to prepare students to be active and healthy for a lifetime. Physical education is key to improving a child's confidence, brainpower and long-term health. The aim of physical education is to establish a culture of health and fitness, which is for the benefit of society. Quality physical education should be provided to all students as an integral part of K-12 education.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Guide Distance Learning Online Education

Distance learning opportunities used to exist through what was called correspondence courses, which were conducted over the mail, on the radio or on television. Today, the internet is the primary method of presenting educational materials. Online education affords students who little time or money, or who live in remote areas, to attend classes.
Classes Offered Through Distance Learning Online Education
Almost any curriculum can be pursued online. Students can seek programs that result in certification, advanced technical skills, associates degrees, bachelors degrees, graduate degrees and even doctorates. Even continuing education classes for licensed professionals and high school equivalence courses can be completed through virtual classrooms.
Methods for Distance Learning Online Education
Online education is usually web-based with a specific web site designated for the course. Supplemental materials, such as software, may also be part of certain online courses. Students visit the course web site to complete the posted assignments and take tests. Instructors and students communicate through email and chat rooms. Sometimes virtual lectures and discussions are part of online coursework. Students can attend virtual classrooms to complete their education and some colleges even have virtual graduation ceremonies.
Types of Students Who Pursue Distance Learning Online Education
Many different students from all over the world participate in distance learning online education opportunities. Some students work and attend classes online during their free time. Other students live in remote areas where local colleges do not exist. Still other students choose to combine online courses with traditional classes for what is known as a blended learning experience. Student who pursue distance education do not fit a particular mold, but should possess the following qualities:
independent learner;
computer literate;
good time management skills; and
excellent communication skills.
Validity of Distance Learning Online Education: Research from the Sloan Consortium states that online learning is comparable to education obtained in a traditional setting, based upon a poll of academic leaders. Academic leader James Sherwood, Ph.D. and dean of University Extension, the continuing education branch of The University of California at Berkley states that, "Coming out of World War II and getting into the 60's and 70's there was a kind of stigma associated with distance education. That has certainly changed." Because of technological advances and online resources, distance education has improved and offers an equivalent opportunity to traditional education.
Faculty Perspective of Distance Learning Online Education. Dr. Michael Otaigbe of Strayer University in Virginia has taught courses both in person and online at the same college. His opinion is that online classes generate an unexpected level of motivation, saying, "Online, I have the freedom to require contributions. Every week, my students have to submit essays and participate in group discussions. I get a better sense of the learning process." He also finds that online students come from all over the world and have unique contributions that benefit the other students.
Online Education Distance Learning Association in the US. Several distance learning associations exist within the United States that offer additional information about taking classes online for prospective students.
The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA). The USDLA is a non-profit association that promotes the development and application of online distance learning for education and training purposes. The USDLA encourages distance learning for grades K-12, college and higher education, corporate training, continuing education, government training and military training. Further, the USDLA supported the implementation of the Snowe-Rockefeller Amendment to the 1996 Telecommunications Act, as well as other legislation in 1997 that was introduced by Kennedy and Snowe.
The Distance and Education Training Council (DETC). The DETC is a non-profit educational association that is a central hub of information about distance study and the correspondence learning field.
Federal Government Distance Learning Association (FGDLA). The FGDLA is also a non-profit association. The FGDLA was formed to promote development and application of distance learning programs. The Association also acts to foster understanding and collaboration among the people involved in education and training within the federal government.
Covering Costs for Distance Learning Online Education Programs
Financial aid is available to online students, just as it is for traditional students. Online students can apply for applicable state and government financial aid, Stafford loans, student loans, tuition reimbursement and scholarships to cover costs for cyber classes. Also, virtual students save money on transportation and housing. Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, said, "The College Board continues to advocate for need-based aid, so that students can have the opportunity to benefit from college education."
National and international strides are being made everyday in distance learning online education. Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers, R-Mich., introduced legislation to scientifically scrutinize online learning. The Independent Study of Distance Education Act of 2007 directs the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study that would compare classroom instruction with distance learning programs. Colleges such as the University of Wyoming are experimenting with gaming as a form of teaching online education. Consider that the dynamic nature and convenience of online education has attracted about 3.2 million people to take a distance learning course in the past year. Distance learning online education programs are an effective way to achieve higher education.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Education System in America

The role that the educational system should play in the live of people is to educate them to be conscious, critically thinking individuals who do not passively accept knowledge but question the knowledge that is being taught to them. Education should be taught to give students the skills and intelligence they need to understand the world and how the world works in order to survive in it. However, the American educational system has been known to produce students whom are woefully ignorant about the world and different cultures. One of the reasons is because the educational system in its current state does not leave much room for critical thinking but trains individuals to be docile, worker bees in a global economy that keeps the status quo wealthy and "others" barely making it. The problem becomes evident if we look at the varied curriculums and subjects that are being taught. There is a lack of emphasis on academic learning, and the only thing that matters is high stakes testing. The schools in this country have become swamped with fuzzy curriculums that assume that through constant testing, students will be prepared for life in a new global society . . . whatever that is.
I recently had a conversation with a co-worker and we were discussing how African-Americans were treated forty years ago and I was amazed by her naivety about the subject, considering the fact that she was a college graduate and an African-American. From the moment I entered college, I was eager to explore the history of African and African-American history from a view point that did not make them seem sub-human and college affords students that opportunity. I could not help but wonder what type of history and sociological classes she had taken; from her conversation, none. But the sad truth is that when most people make the decision to attend college, it is for the purpose of reaping economic rewards, not for expanding one's consciousness.
In order for the educational system in this country to produce students who are not clueless about its history and the world surrounding them, it should be restructured in several ways. Parental involvement should be mandatory, just as school attendance for students is mandatory for graduation. Lack of parent involvement is an enormous contributing factor to the current failing educational system. Parents need to instill in their children just how detrimental a lack of education is to their future. Teachers are wonderful people who can take students from the top of Mount Olympus to the cold and desolation of Antarctica but they are there to teach, not parent. Many teachers spend a great deal of their class time disciplining children and playing babysitter, two things that are not a part of their job duties. Teachers need involvement from parents in order for the educational system to work and education begins at home.
Funding for the educational system should also be restructured. Public schools are traditionally funded by property taxes which results in a very unequal distribution of educational opportunity. Communities that are wealthy have more funding for their local schools than those who do not. This situation directly affects the quality of education that children in urban and poor rural areas receive. The No Child Left Behind Act will only make it worse because of the required testing and public reporting of results. When parents are buying a new house, they want to live in a school district that has strong test scores. This drives up the property values in those areas, meaning that only affluent families can afford to live in the top performing school districts. This means more property taxes to those areas, while the lower performing schools lose their funding if they do not meet federal standards. There should be a fair tax system for education that is not based on property taxes of homeowners. Government funding, for the most part, is distributed to the various schools by state and local governments and there is huge disparities in this funding based on race. According the text American Education by Joel Spring, there is a gap of more than $1,000 per student nation wide based on race, with large states like New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, who lead the nation in their unwillingness to fairly fund education (Spring, pg. 77). Children should not suffer because of their economic background or ethnicity and public education should make no distinction between rich and poor, or black and white. Every child attending a public school should be granted an equal education. Equal funding would grant teachers the proper resources to better educate students. School choice and the privatization of the public school system would not be a factor because under my plan, the educational system in America would be fully and equally funded by the federal government and closely monitored. With the influx of money pouring into the educational system from the government, schools would change dramatically for the better because that is the biggest issue in most public schools: lack of money.
The educational system's curriculum would be changed in order to fit in with the nation's melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. From elementary to high school, students are bombarded with facts and figures about wealthy, white men as if women and other minorities do not exist or contribute anything worthy to the history of America. No wonder so many students blank out historical facts: they do not care these fact because they cannot relate to the actors in the story. Student should be required to take courses that have will give them a more in depth understanding of the world surrounding them, courses that will discuss the history of marginalized and oppressed individuals in this country and around the world. They should be required to read books that make them think, not just process information for the next test. If more students understood the values and cultures of people unlike themselves, it would not be easy or maybe even possible for the government to lie and use propaganda techniques to lull the masses into believing everything was okay and its leaders competent. High stakes testing would be eliminated because most of the tests are designed by people who do not have a clue about the demographics, ethnicities or economic backgrounds of the students who are to be tested and these tests are biased against minorities and the poor. If students are to be tested, extra tutoring would be available to students, at no cost to the parents.
Having competent teachers, board members, and administrators are also a vital part of restructuring the educational system. Having qualified administrators and board members who know and enforce standards and guidelines is important. What are the qualifications for an administrator? Are there required qualifications? These are the questions that need answers. Just because someone has obtained a degree does not make this person the best for the job. Board members should not be chosen because they golf with the mayor; all board members should have a Master's degree in Education or have an extensive social justice background. As for teachers, the educational system should make sure that the best teachers are chosen for the positions and evaluations should be given frequently. This would give parents and the educational system a chance to find out what is wrong and what is needed to correct the problems. Public education needs teachers and board members that actually care about the children and their education, not individuals who want the perks of working for school system: summers and holidays off, steady raises and a fat compensation package. American children are suffering due to the inadequacies of the individuals involved with the educational system.
The "culture of poverty" theory that has been used by several politicians to explain differences in learning between different ethnicities would be exposed as a blatant attempt by the status quo to "blame" individuals for their poverty if the educational system was restructured to meet the needs of all students, not just the wealthy. Huge educational gaps between poor students and wealthy students do not occur because the poorer students have adapted to their poverty-stricken existence but because they do not have resources needed to succeed in school. If students have to deal with textbooks that are outdated, lack of toiletries, and computers from the late 1980s, their opportunity to advance academically is dismal and their chances of dropping out of school likely.
In a just and an equal society, the educational system I have discussed would have already been implemented decades ago but it has not and more than likely will not. In a hierarchical society such as in America, there will always be someone on the low end of the totem pole and the best way to do that is through the mis-education of its most vulnerable: the children. The neglect of the educational system in the US threatens the economic well being of the entire nation. Unless the inequalities in education is diminished and its system totally restructured, the wealthy gap between the rich and the poor will continue to widen and the US will be infamous for being the nation of the undereducated. Spring, Joel. American Education. (2006). New York: McGraw-Hill