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“Global talent pool shifts” by Sam Parker, EL Gazette (Nov 2011)

With steadily growing numbers of university graduates in countries such as China, Brazil and Korea, the US and main European countries have lost their dominance in the global graduate talent pool, the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has reported.
In its Education at a Glance 2011 statement, the OECD released data showing that, although one in four graduates are still in either the US or Europe, emerging economies are levelling the playing field with their steep increases in higher education graduates.
China, for example, now accounts for 12 per cent of graduates in advanced economic countries, while Brazil represents 4 per cent of graduates in emerging economies. Korea is catching up with Germany’s 4.6 per cent share of the global graduate pool to surpass France and Canada, which each account for 3.6 per cent of the world’s graduates, according to the University World News website. Japan, however, has maintained its 11 per cent share.
Countries such as Russia, Indonesia and South Africa were included in the analysis for the first time this year, combining with the statistics of the 34 nations defined by the OECD’s as ‘advanced economies’ to make up the total pool of graduates globally.
And although the quality of graduates in China or South Africa might be lower than those in the US or UK, Andreas Schleicher, the head of OECD’s education statistics, said analysts should not doubt their potential.
‘One mistake we should not make is to assume that countries that upgrade quantity cannot upgrade quality at similar speeds,’ he said.
The report also considered the percentage of university graduates in the workforce, noting that only one in five US graduates are newly employed, while 18 per cent of Chinese graduates are entering the job market. India was not included in this part of the study, however, so as a result China earned a high proportion of the talent pool.
The financial difficulty of paying for college is a possible explanation for the control shift in the global graduate talent pool, Schleicher added.
‘The proportion of OECD countries in the global talent pool is shrinking,’ he said. ‘One of the hypotheses is that higher education has become so expensive for individuals in countries like the US that the composition of the global talent pool has changed.’

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NEWS IN BRIEF with Sam Parker, English Language Gazette (Nov. 2011)

1m Esol pupils in England
ACCORDING TO recent figures published by the UK Department of Education, approximately one million pupils in England speak English as their second language. The report states that a record one in six pupils in state primary schools and one in eight in state secondary education speak another language at home. Funding for state-school English as an additional language programmes has been cut significantly.

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Legislator alleges ‘Filipino fines’, English Language Gazette Oct 2011

A CONGRESSMAN in the Philippines has called for an probe into schools promoting the use of English by fining students for speaking Filipino (Tagalog), the nation’s other official language. Representative Raymond Palatino cited an alleged case of a student at Ramon Magasaysay High School in Manila who was fined one peso (about one penny) every time he spoke Filipino in class. The school told the ABS-CBN news agency it disapproved of any such action by its teachers.

Worse ways to learn a language…

White House hints at new bilingual thinking: EL Gazette, June 2011

A JOINT report by the White House Initiative of Educational Excellence for Hispanics and the US (federal) Department of Education published in April gives an insight into the Obama administration’s strategy for improving the education of the USA’s English language learners (ELL).

While the report – Improving Education for the Latino Community – is mostly concerned with details of financial support for education projects targeted at Latinos, it also covers ELL-friendly assessments and the Obama administration’s strategy on ‘supporting English Learners’.

Improving Education includes one example of a school district that has shown good results with ELLs – Saint Paul Public School District in Minnesota – noting that Saint Paul has ‘focused solely on developing students’ English-language proficiency by significantly expanding its dual language programs over the past five years’. (The superintendent of Saint Paul School District, Valeria Silva, is herself an immigrant from Chile and a former ESL teacher, see the March 2010 Gazette.)

The report stops short of taking a position on whether or not bilingual education is more effective than the English-only instruction for ELLs favoured by the Bush administration. Improving Education notes that ‘while there are certain practices that have been shown to benefit ELs, more research and evaluation is needed on the types of language-instruction education programs that are most effective for English-learners’.

Individual states within the US often lack common criteria for identifying ELLs across all their school districts, warns the report. It also emphasises the need for the consortia currently bidding to create standardised educational assessments to take account of the needs of ELLs.

Improving Education highlights the agreement signed by the federal Justice and Education Departments with the Boston School District to improve ELL education in the city, an agreement which forestalled a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Boston.