In today’s class we presented our second policy brief in terms of what it’s about, what the issue we are focusing on is, what our implications and recommendations are. We are three groups (of 3 students each) in total.
I really liked my peers’ mini brief topic about education for sustainable development. The angle they looked at it and the implications they had in their brief were interesting and I found them relevant to the idea of lifelong learning, which I am a fan of as you can quite infer from my journal so far. They made the link between theory and practice in terms of how to implement and integrate education for sustainable development in the curriculum and in teacher training.
The other group talked about the Thanaweya Amma exam, or the “exiting secondary school certificate” exam as they referred to it. This is in fact a nation-wide concern because these exams focus on memorization of students and do not test their skills or their potentials. This is the exam that determines which university students enroll in and which university program they go into (based on their test scores). This, according to the research they conducted, leads to students going into disciplines they might not be qualified for in terms of skills because they focus all their efforts on memorizing and passing that exam. They were suggesting to implement the AP Program that is adopted in the US to go hand in hand with the Thanaweya Amma but that would be the detriment in the students entering higher education institutions and would give the students a choice of undergraduate program. My reflection on this, and the one I relayed to them in class, is if it’s a substitution to Thanaweya Amma then that might have some chance of working, but if it’s an addition it would not be very feasible. I speak from personal experience because my school changed the educational system two years before I graduate. They changed the program from American Diploma (which I was already a year in) to the International Baccalaureate Program (an inherently 5 year program). So what ended up happening for the remaining two years was that I took both the American Diploma portion (the SATs) and the subjects of the International Baccalaureate curriculum in school. Granted, it was mainly my SAT score that got me into AUC but it was also my school GPA, which was based on the school subjects and the tests. The fact that I had to study for both programs and Ace both programs’ exams was very stressful and I found it unfair, since I could have got into university equally as well by following only one of the programs. Note: I received an American Diploma Certificate when I graduated. I know. Anyway.
When we presented our policy brief about the internationalization of teacher development the professor gave us really valuable feedback that we will surely integrate in our policy brief. Our issue, that we based our policy brief on, is:
Many international educational reform initiatives aimed at teacher development have taken place in the last 15 years in Europe and around the world (Zaalouk, 2015). However, the approach to educational development cooperation between the North and the South has been one of knowledge borrowing rather than knowledge sharing in which the South is positioned as receivers of knowledge created by the North. This is especially true in teacher development initiatives, where the South or ‘developing countries’ are considered clients or receivers of knowledge and experience from the more ‘developed’ North countries.
Our researched implication is:
Adopting a non-eurocentric internationalization approach to faculty professional development in higher education institutions in the fashion of The Capacity Development of Facilities of Education (CDFE) – a project conducted that used this model- realm of faculty professional development could reduce the inequalities of knowledge production and research globally.
One of the major takeaways from this class is that I learned how to analyze policy briefs in the sense that there needs to be a clear issue outlined and explained, there needs to be a statement of implication (what could happen if the policy option being suggested gets implemented) and a few recommendations in the form of concrete statements (what it is you want the policy to do and what it should conduct). I like how the professor explained the triadic relationship between these three elements of a policy brief.
Next week I’ll be at the Annual AMICAL Conference in Rome so I will have to miss class – sadly – but I am planning on reflecting on the course activities I will do next week because we have a couple of assignments coming up and I’m actually pretty excited about them because they are online discussions, one of my favorite type of assignments, about the class discussions based on the readings we did on argumentation, narrative, cogent articulation, political astuteness, rational soundness and policy analysis.