The Center for Educational Improvement

Global Competence

In This Issue
Global Education Collaboration
Global Education- Developing Countries
Global Competence

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What do you know about International Education?  About the countries that score the highest, the countries that have some of the most advanced educational technologies, the countries that have some of the greatest poverty and poorest educational conditions?  What about the countries that make the greatest advances?  How do you think the U.S. stacks up?  Where do we excel and where could we improve?  Is it the Common Core Standards and more rigor that will move us forward?


In this edition of Wow! Ed we invited three authors to share  their perspectives from three different vantage points.


Global Education Collaboration

by Kevin Simpson, KDSL


How to Teach Now  

by William Powell and Ochan Kusuma-Powell


In what ways is your classroom a global classroom?


William and Ochan Kasuma Powell ask a thought-provoking question of educators. In what ways is your school system world-class? I am writing while in route from Thailand to Qatar to Dubai-- this is giving me a significant amount of time for reflection as I jump from one country and culture to another.


Google "world class education" and you will be bombarded with numerous links and resources. One of the most powerful titles I read was from Dr. Anthony Jackson of The Asia Society called "Putting the "World" into World-Class Education." But what does world-class education mean?


        Thailand - KevinS

In my view, a world-class education is putting the world into the hands, minds, and hearts of students, teachers, administrators, and into the curriculum and professional learning. World-class is coming to know and understand about education from the perspective of our global colleagues.  


To be considered world-class one needs to seek ways to actively bring the world into the classroom. Diverse literature, a variety of historical perspectives, and global math strategies are a great start. The media at times tends to focus on comparing education systems internationally via assessments and creating a global hierarchy of whose country is best and whose is worst. Rarely do the media address: "What can we learn from each other to best educate all students?"  


In my travels, I have come across organizations and people who serve as architects striving towards implementing this vision of a world-class education for students. They are putting the world into the hands, minds, and hearts of all involved in education.


Examples of Global Competence

What happens when you have 2 million students from 236 countries computing math equations online? World Math Day happens! This free event is held during March of each year. Students play at home and at school against other students around the world in live games of mental arithmetic. Each game lasts for 60 seconds and students can play up to 100 games, earning points for their personal tally. This year students from a host of schools in Washington, D.C. participated in this friendly global competition. One educator I collaborated with stated:


Students were extremely excited to be competing against students from all over the world. For each new country that they competed against, they would shout out, "Mr. Fernandez, I am going against someone from (insert country)!" Then they would brag about how they beat them! It definitely boosted their confidence in addition to exposing them to new places around the globe. Whenever there was a country they had never heard of, it immediately created an opportunity for new learning.


In a world where texting has become the norm, how do you get teenagers to write? One World Education in Washington, D.C., has discovered how to engage youth in writing by giving them the freedom to choose global topics that become central to curriculum developed by educators. Topics have covered many international issues including: Somalia, autism, Bhutan, and organic trafficking.


One World Education, started in 2007 by passionate educators, Eric Goldstein and Emily Chiarello, seeks to promote literacy and empower and engage students in writing about cultural and global issues, which then can be used as tools for other students. As one of the One World Education Ambassador's said, "The best way to learn is through your peers."


Last year in 2010 two visionaries, Steve Hargadon and Lucy Gray, held the first free Global Education Conference online. There were over 400 sessions, over 60 keynote speakers, and over 15,000 participants who logged in. Educators and students had an opportunity to collaborate electronically, share global perspectives, questions, and take action. Feedback from the participants included:


"Agradezco la oportunidad brindada. Ser parte de este grupo de colaboradores en la relación pedagógica instalada a través de Elluminate se constituye en una experiencia maravillosa donde el territorio no se desdibuja, sino muy por el contrario Empieza a construirse Otro/Nuevo Aula Colaborativa para hacer de los saberes una fuente inagotable de conocimiento que emana de lo colectivo mediado por TIC.  Un fuerte abrazo a todos ustedes que han organizado y puesto a nuestra disposición para hacer saber."


"I just wanted to say thanks for the incredible week of professional development I experienced as a result of the Global Education Conference. I have teachers already implementing some of the ideas they discovered as a result of the conference." 


World Math Day, One World Education, and the Global Education Conference are three example programs devoted to the idea of world-class education. They are promoting the collaboration and putting the world into the hands, hearts, and minds of students and educators.


For more on each of the world-class education organizations mentioned please visit:


World Math Day 

One World Education 

Global Education Conference 


Global Education  --  

Needs in Developing Nations   

by Dr. Mary Thormann

Director of International Education

Center for Educational Improvement


The quality of education and its importance in developing and underdeveloped countries around the world is the subject of a June 2011 report by the Center for Universal Education at Brookings, "A Global Compact on Learning: Taking Action on Education in the Developing Countries."  The lead author, Jenny Perlman Robinson, presented the new report, "calling for a renewal of global cooperation on education in low-income countries."   


She was joined by a panel of experts from the multilateral, private and non-government sectors to discuss the new global education agenda and the urgent need for international cooperation and action to tackle the "global learning crisis."  The report provides a framework and broad guidelines - priorities, strategies, and approaches, on improving the status of education around the world.  


Although access to school for children in developing countries has markedly improved since the Education For All (EFA) global initiative in 1990-nearly 47 out of 163 countries have achieved universal primary education, significant challenges remain in 44 countries, 23 of which are in sub-Saharan Africa, where approximately 31 of 69 million school-age children are not in school.*   For those children who do attend school, a common concern is the quality of education and poor learning outcomes.

                   EFA Global Init 


Classrooms are overcrowded; teacher-pupil ratios typically exceed 40:1 and many approach 70:1. The lack of materials (textbooks/exercise books for each student), and poorly trained and unqualified teachers are some additional factors that impact educational quality. For many poor parents, fees for school and for school uniforms make schooling prohibitive for their children. In many cases, the opportunity costs of an education remain too high for poor parents to continue their children's schooling, and the children enter the labor force at an early age.  


In many developing countries, according to a 2005 UNESCO report, less than 60 percent of primary school pupils who enroll in first grade reach the last year of schooling. UNICEF reports that millions of children who enter primary school drop out before completing a full primary cycle. UNESCO's Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report 2010 states that in sub-Saharan Africa alone, 10 million children drop out of primary school every year. The EFA Global Monitoring Report (2011) states that another 1.9 million teachers will be needed by 2015 to achieve universal primary education, and more than half of them are needed in sub-Saharan Africa.


Children and youth all around the world are facing a serious learning crisis:  absence of access to an education, lack of foundational skills in literacy and numeracy for those in school, and lack of access to a post-primary educational opportunity.


Evidence shows that targeted attention to three priorities - early childhood development, literacy and numeracy in lower primary school and relevant learning for youth in post-primary school - could jump-start global education development so that all children are prepared to lead safe, healthy and productive lives.




Global Competence

By Catherine Abbott

Catherine Abbott is a writer in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee


A child doesn't straighten her room. A plane doesn't leave on time. Food doesn't arrive for the hungry. From the trivial to the life-shattering, we live in an incompetent world. The person next to us lives in that incompetent world, too. That doesn't mean that we (and the people next to us) don't try. Being competent and effective requires attention and energy. Too many things distract us. And those distractions are so prevalent, not only do we hardly notice, but if you look closely, they have become necessary. We crave them.


When we complain about incompetent people - either in the public world, or our own private lives - our complaints echo out into the nether regions of the universe. And when the reverb returns to us, we become numb.  


Numbness drains our energies

Stop. Turn off the music, the news, the movie. Listen to your ideas, your what-ifs. Competence cannot exist in a lack-luster environment. To become competent, we need to be alert to all possibilities. To be globally competent we need to be alert to ALL possibilities from the four corners of the earth, not only our own, small world.  


Global competence comes from intention and attention. Intention to learn and attention to international events. Whether it is a school in India, a teacher in Africa, or a curriculum in Australia, global competence comes first and foremost from a willingness to hear, to see, to understand.


CEI is continuing to investigate learning around the world. In the months to come we will be examining the curricula and instructional methodologies of other countries.



Christine Mason
Center for Educational Improvement
This newsletter has been provided to you by the Center for Educational Improvement as per our mailing list.
Please contact Lauren Lomsdale with corrections or comments at [email protected]
This newsletter has been provided to you by the Center for Educational Improvement as per our mailing list.
Please contact Lauren Lomsdale with corrections or comments at [email protected]