Education ministry explains changes in school calendar

The process to change the national school calendar kicked off last month and will end in September 2022, the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Isaac Munyakazi, has said.

Munyakazi said this week that the changes are motivated by several reasons, among them, the need to align the school calendar to the national budget.

“The school calendar is not in sync with the national budget. This means that the education activities and other development activities are running on different timelines and not based on the fiscal year which is not convenient,” he said.

Munyakazi also pointed out that another reason for the change is to reduce the period A’Level students are spending in vacation.

“We felt that it was necessary to synchronise the primary and secondary school calendar with the one of the universities so that we cut on the long period of time which A’Level students had to wait before joining university,” he said.

There was also need to synchronise performance contracts with the fiscal year.

Munyakazi explained that though the changes in the school calendar were discussed at the Umushyikirano National Dialogue, his Ministry had been looking into making the changes though it required a big budget and time.

“Obviously we have started working on these changes but this process requires a lot in terms of changes and  budget. The last changes we made to the school calendar cost us Rwf7.2bn,” he said.

The Director General of the Rwanda Examination Board (REB), Dr Irénée Ndayambaje, recently told The New Times that the revision of the calendar will be done in a way that it does not affect the curriculum implementation.

“People will be aware of the changes and get prepared in advance. This revision will, however, not affect the academics. The new calendar will come into effect when everything is in place,” he said.

Current status

In August last year, the Ministry of Education released a slightly revised school calendar for both primary and secondary schools for the 2019 academic year, which saw the holiday period shortened.

[“source=newtimes”]

View: India needs to improve its educational outcomes to catch up with China

Education

Both China and India started building their national education systems under comparable conditions in the late 1940s. Different policies and historical circumstances have, however, led them to different educational outcomes, with China outperforming India not just in terms of its percentage of literate population and enrollment rates at all levels of education, but also in terms of number of world-class institutions in higher education, and greater research output.

The roots of China’s successful education system date back to the Cultural Revolution(1966-1976), which unintentionally expanded access to the primary education through democratising the schooling system, which was previously elitist in character, thus addressing the problem of mass illiteracy.

In contrast, India continued to focus on its higher education system since independence and only realised the importance of basic education in 1986, keeping it behind China and many other countries in Asia in educational development. In terms of enrollment, China reached a 100 percent gross enrollment rate (GER) in its primary education in 1985, whereas, India attained that level only in 2000.

In terms of secondary school enrollment, India and China both started at the similar rates in 1985, with about 40 percent of their population enrolled in secondary schools. However, due to a wider base of primary school students, the rate of increase in China has been much faster than in India, with 99 percent secondary enrollment rate in China and 79 percent in India in 2017.

India is closing in on the Chinese rate in terms of access to education, but on the literacy level front, there is a huge gap in the percentage of literate populations in the two countries. In the age group of 15-24 years, India scores 104th rank on literacy and numeracy indicator, compared to China’s 40th rank.

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which assesses after every three years the domain knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics, science and finance, revealed that students in China performed above the OECD average in 2015. Moreover, one in four students in China are top performers in mathematics, having an ability to formulate complex situations mathematically. Further, China outperforms all the other participating countries in financial literacy, by having a high ability to analyse complex finance products. For India, the comparable data is not available as it was not a participating country in PISA 2015.

However, in India, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2017 provides data for rural youth, aged 14-18, with respect to their abilities to lead productive lives as adults. According to this survey, only about half of the 14-year-old children in the sample could read English sentences, and more than half of the students surveyed could not do basic arithmetic operations, like division. For basic financial calculations, such as managing a budget or making a purchase decision, less than two-thirds could do the correct calculations.

With regard to the higher education system, both India and China dominate the number of tertiary degree holders because of their large population size, but when it comes to the percentage of the population holding tertiary degrees, only about 10 per cent and 8 per cent of the population possess university degrees in China and India, respectively. By contrast, in Japan, almost 50 per cent of the population holds a tertiary degree, and in the United States, 31 per cent of the population hold a tertiary degree.

In terms of the international recognition of universities, the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking for 2019 places seven of the China’s universities in the top 200, compared to none for India. The global university rankings, which are based on various performance metrices, pertaining to teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industrial income, shows progress for several of China’s low-ranked universities, largely driven by improvements in its citations.

In fact, the Tsinghua University has overtaken the National University of Singapore (NUS) to become the best university in Asia due to improvements in its citations, institutional income and increased share of international staff, students and co-authored publications.

While India has progressed in terms of massification of education, there is still a lot which needs to be done when it comes to catching up with the China’s educational outcomes. China’s early start in strengthening its primary and secondary education systems has given it an edge over India in terms of higher education. Moreover, Chinese government strategies are designed in line with the criterion used in major world university rankings, especially emphasis is on the two factors which weigh heavily in the rankings — publications and international students.

The relentless publications drive, which is very evident in China, is weak in India and has led to a growing gap in the number of publications contributed by the two countries. Further, China enrolled about 292,611 foreign students in 2011 from 194 countries, while India currently only has 46,144 foreign students enrolled in its higher education institutions, coming from 166 countries. The large number of international enrollments in China is a reflection of its state policies granting high scholarships to foreign students.

To catch up with China, India needs to lay emphasis on improving its educational outcomes. Massification drive for education has helped India raise its student enrollments, but a lot needs to be done when it comes to global recognition for its universities. Further, it needs to focus on building the foundation skills which are acquired by students at the school age, poor fundamental skills flow through the student life, affecting adversely the quality of education system.

[“source=economictimes.indiatimes”]

Free college is now a reality in nearly 20 states

Students who graduate from this tiny tuition-free college make more than Harvard grads

Students who graduate from this tiny tuition-free college make more than Harvard grads   8:30 AM ET Sat, 14 July 2018 | 03:38

“There was no way I could have gone to a university after high school,” said Emily Buckner, 20.

“My parents were laid off during the recession and it set us back a lot,” she said. “When I finished high school, there was nothing.”

Instead, Buckner took advantage of the Tennessee Promise — an offer of two years tuition-free at a community or technical college in the state.

In May, she completed her associate degree and is now enrolled as a junior at Tennessee Technological University, or Tennessee Tech, studying human resources.

Emily Buckner at her Volunteer State Community College graduation

Source: Emily Buckner
Emily Buckner at her Volunteer State Community College graduation

In addition to the state funding, Buckner has relied solely on academic scholarships to pay for school as well as a job at Waffle House, which covers additional expenses such as books and food. She has no student loan debt.

“I know a lot of people go to college and a lot of people don’t,” she said, “I just felt like it was for me.”

She credits the Tennessee Promise for opening the door.

Of the students who started in the program’s first year in 2015, more than 50 percent have been successful, according to Mike Krause, the executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and founding director of Tennessee Promise.

More than 20 percent have graduated, another 20 percent are still enrolled and 10 percent successfully transferred to a four-year institution.

Now in its fourth year, the number of applicants is still rising, according to Krause.

“There are students that may have counted themselves out and when they hear that you can go for free that provides a sense of momentum,” Krause said. (Students can use the scholarship at any of the state’s 13 community colleges or other eligible associate degree programs or vocational schools.)

Other states, including Arkansas, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon and Rhode Island, have also rolled out statewide free community-college programs and more are expected to follow.

[“source=cnbc”]

Millennials are killing canned tuna, but the industry is fighting back

Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna in Oil

Geri Lavrov | Getty Images
Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna in Oil

Another one bites the dust. This time, millennials are killing canned tuna, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Consumption of canned tuna has dropped 42 percent per capita from the last 30 years through 2016, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. And the industry places the blame on younger consumers, who want fresher or more convenient options.

“A lot of millennials don’t even own can openers,” Andy Mecs, the vice president of marketing and innovation for Starkist, said to the Journal.

The struggle of the three largest canned tuna companies, StarKist, Bumble Bee Foods and Chicken of the Sea International, mirrors that of others in the packaged food industry, like Campbell Soup and Kraft Heinz. Younger consumers are turning away from processed foods, and new competitors are catering to changing tastes faster than the industry’s giants.

To Ken Harris, managing partner at Cadent Consulting Group, the bigger picture is about convenience.

“In the last 15 years, can openers became passe,” Harris told CNBC.

Harris, who has worked with canned tuna businesses, believes that the traditional companies have fallen behind because it’s a low-margin business and investing in packaging falls low on the list of priorities. The main priority for canned tuna companies now, according to Harris, should be packaging that makes it easy to remove and drain the tuna.

StarKist started re-thinking its product line-up in earnest about three to five years ago when the decline of tuna accelerated, Mecs said in an interview with CNBC. He remembered reading a newspaper article a few years ago about millennials recoiling from cereal because the bowl had to be cleaned. For him, the story reiterated how much consumers care about convenience.

Upstarts like Wild Planet Foods and Safe Catch market their tuna as safer and higher quality and are slowly eating into the big three’s market share, the Journal said. According to Nielsen data as of October, smaller brands (not including private labels) control 6.3 percent of the market, up from 3.7 percent in 2014, the Journal said.

To stage a comeback, the traditional tuna makers are taking a page from those brands. Bumble Bee and StarKist both have premium brands that they market as sustainable.

They’re also focusing on the products that are working. Tuna pouches don’t require a can opener, and StarKist told CNBC that sales of its pouches are increasing by 20 percent annually. For the first time, the Pittsburgh-based company sold more pouches than their most popular can size in 2018.

Kroger’s Home Chef, a meal-kit company, has partnered with the tuna brand to put its yellowfin tuna pouches in kits next year.

Bumble Bee and StarKist have also turned to flavors favored by millennials, like sriracha.

Chicken of the Sea is pitching it to younger consumers as a snack. The San Diego-based company started selling resealable cups of its flavored tuna this summer.

Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea weren’t immediately available for comment when CNBC reached out.

[“source=cnbc”]