Grow Your Know – November 2016
A Comparative Look at Education Systems
This month’s article helps the reader understand the differences in the education systems of each country where Global Hope works: Romania, Kenya and India. The purpose is not to highlight how good or bad one system is from another, but to grasp the challenges and opportunities in each country. No doubt, there is room to grow and improve in every educational system if we want the best education for our children, but that takes time and resources. The good news is, there is common agreement that education is important. The challenge is, what investments will be made to make systems more effective and more accessible to all children.
In Romania, children are required to attend school from ages 7-14 years old. Public schools are tuition free and run from September through June. Pre-primary education is optional for children 3-6 years old, but one “preparatory school year” is required before a child enters 1st grade.
Primary education includes 1st to 4th grade. At the end of these four years students take an exam to assess their performance. If a student does very poorly, they may be required to repeat a year before moving on to 5th grade.
Lower secondary education includes 5th to 8th grade. Students go from having one teacher to multiple teachers and classes become more intensive. At the end of the 8th grade, children take The National Test, which covers three subjects: Romanian Language, Literature and Mathematics.
For students who pass The National Test, they may enroll in upper secondary school (high school), although which school they can attend depends on their test score. For students who fail the test, they must choose a two-year trade school. All children are required to complete two additional years of schooling after the 8th grade so while high school is four years in length, only 9th and 10th grade are compulsory.
Following high school, students who wish to attend a university must take another national exam called the Baccalaureate. There are six portions of the exam. If a student fails any one of them, they may retake that portion up to five times.
In Kenya, children are required to attend school from ages 6-13 years old. Public schools are tuition free and run from January through November. Primary education begins with kindergarten (often referred to as nursery or pre-unit) and goes up to 8th grade. If at any time a student struggles, or fails their year-end exams, they still move to the next grade since repeating grades is banned in schools.
Like Romania, at the end of 8th grade, students must take a national exam called the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education Exam. The subjects covered are: Math, English, Swahili, Social Studies, Science and Religious Studies and it takes four days to complete the entire test. Performance on this exam determines if a student can go to high school, and which one. Unfortunately, less than 50% of students continue to secondary education.
Secondary education includes 9th through 12th grade. Most high schools in Kenya are boarding schools that require students to pay tuition, buy uniforms and cover their living expenses. When students finish the 12th grade, they must take the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education Exam, which is required for entrance into a university. The exam takes about a month to complete and students must score a C+ grade or better to be accepted to a university. The score also determines which university the student may attend.
In India, children are required to attend school from ages 6-14 years old. Public schools are tuition free and run from April through March.
For children 3-5 years old, there are pre-schools, private schools and kindergarten schools available, but for a fee. Once children turn six they must enter primary school, which includes 1st through 8th grade. Like Kenya, if a student struggles, or fails year-end exams, they are still required to move to the next grade. At the end of 8th grade, that changes. All students are required to take a national examination to enter secondary education, and if they fail the exam, they are not able to move on in their schooling. Unfortunately, by the 8th grade 60% of primary students have dropped out of school.
Secondary education is optional (based on scoring on the national exam) and costly to parents. There are public and private schools at this level. Secondary education is broken into two segments: secondary (9th and 10th grade) and higher secondary (11th and 12th grade). Students must take a national exam to earn their Secondary School Certificate before they can move on to the 11th grade. For 11th and 12th grade, students can choose a concentration of study (e.g. science, commerce, or arts/humanities), which can be taken at a high school or two-year junior college. After finishing the 12th grade, students again need to take a national exam to earn their Higher Secondary Certificate. The students who earn this final certificate are eligible to go to a university for higher education.
India has a large private school system as a response to the poor public school options. These do require tuition, but have a higher quality of education. They are also predominately English medium schools (English being the primary language used), whereas in public schools this is not the case.
To learn more about various education systems around the world, visit World Education Services at http://www.wes.org/ewenr/research.asp.
(A big thanks goes out to Renee Miller who helped provide research for this article!)
Read more in the November issue: