cflorian describes the Zamorano university enterprise in Honduras, which has a fully functional plant where students can learn all the different processes including pasteurization, packaging, manufacturing cheese, yoghurt, ice-cream. The enterprise supports the local economy by processing thousands of litres of milk from local organisations and sells products in local markets. The profits are returned to support the student scholarship fund. The students can also take part in a range of research:
One example of these research projects was an evaluation of new dairy cultures for cheddar cheese with the aim of reducing maturation time and improving its taste. Other studies have involved the analysis of stabilizers to improve cream chesses and the development of natural preservatives to increase the duration of natural milk, among others. New product development by Zamorano students has resulted in products that will soon hit the market, such as yogurt-based dips, smoked cheeses, liquid yogurt and traditional and artisanal products like industrially-manufactured curds
Dr Stefan Popenici reviews discussions about economics, moocs and universities’ role in changing themselves or having less impact on what could be described as education. He highlights differences in perceptions of academic roles, their status and influences on changing academic practices. He looks at the current economic models and management practices where risk taking by both academics and students has not been ecnouraged or supported.
He looks at the ‘ideas’ initiatives which churn out ideas and describes how a push for greater efficiency is removing the conversation away from universities
These forums of ideas and debate have no equivalent initiative organized by an academic institution in the last decade. This used to be an integral part of any university mission, but the culture of debate, inquiry, exploration and public conversation crumbled under the pressure of efficiency. Universities are not capable nor even interested to have something similar and most academic conferences are now paper-presentation-marathons with little if any discussion about what goes today as serious research
He goes on to look at Moocs and questions the economic viability, the engagement of large audiences and reflects on the ability of tools and platforms to realistically change the future.
Jocelyne Sambira of Africa Renewal Online reports about the opportunity for free education through cooperation with the Burundi government and partners such as Unicef offering facilities and educational materials. They point out that whilst the rates are higher in rural areas, the drop out rate is high. In some areas the drop out rates vary by gender and wonder about economic issues that may be affecting these decisions as well as maturity.
The problems compound across the entire education system, Mr. Wedenig explains. “If you have a low intake in early childhood development for instance, it is sure that you would have lower achievements and retention in primary school. If you have high dropouts in primary, low transition to secondary and high dropouts in secondary, obviously you will have a problem in terms of the quality not only for university and tertiary education, but also for teacher colleges and for the future of teaching.”
Eduvichar looks at the different demands for learning English but also for regional language teaching in India and looks at the differences for what might be useful in employment. He notes the importance of learning a regional language in early childhood but also the pressure on students in university who are learning in English.
Mere language cannot hold back capable engineers and doctors, or even philosophers. They have to be given a chance to break through their barriers, and the support to do so.
Therein lies the problem. We do not have external or internal pathways to traverse language barriers.
Garvin Karunaratne provides a detailed overview of his experiences in education and other sectors in Sri Lanka, taking a look at higher education there today. He looks at the impact of IMF and fiscal policy. He provides examples where he has worked with universities encouraging manufacturing industries and employments which later turned to importing instead.
Sri Lanka happens to be perhaps the only country in the world today to offer free Tertiary education. If University education was not free I could not have found the money to become a graduate. Even the UK., which had a free University education system till a few years ago has given up and today a graduate has to pay over 10,000 pounds as fees alone per year. It is my opinion that if we are to continue free University education it becomes an incumbent necessity to ensure that the University studies does contribute to the development of our country
Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism posts a video from the Real News Network which looks at the broader societal and financial implications of policies being proposed by US presidential candidates in the upcoming election.
It has provoked an interesting discussion including
It is not a coincidence that the US was amongst the first countries anywhere to pursue mass _public_ education as a matter of policy, since initial European settlements in the parts of the USA where that was pursued had much smaller class distinctions than Europe as a whole, and in particular had relatively few truly rich individuals. But even in that regard, ‘men of property’ in the US have never supported public education as an entire class.
Nikiforos Philyppis questions whether assessment statistics are actually a realistic view of Brazilian education or whether schools are just passing students to improve their UNESCO statistics. Brazilian higher education is mostly private education. He explores the relationships between markets, students as consumers and education as a commodity.
Educational laws and rules are tough for educational organizations. A student does not pay in advance, he can stop paying his installments in a current year and the school cannot stop giving him the education for that year. After that, he has the legal right to ask for his report and transfer the credits to other institution, and so on. That creates a vicious circle, treating the student as customer and creating all the possible means to maintain him in your client portfolio. In that scenario, passing the student is a rather plausible (although unethical and, I should dare, illegal) strategy.
Brian M Lucey critiques an article in the Irish Times about education and academic research practices in Ireland, reflecting that students as consumers and the notion of value chains are outdated.
The notion of students as a consumer is a flawed metaphor : it is at best incomplete as the ‘consumption’ of higher education gives utility for decades. Asking students partway through their degree to critically evaluate its benefits is akin to asking someone if they enjoyed their meal after the bread rolls have arrived. There are much much richer metaphors for education : the one we like is that of an orchestra, where together the students and lecturers co-create a work which reverberates then and later. The world of music is full of examples where new work is rapturously approved on first iteration but thereafter is seen as shallow, derivative, and falls into disuse. It is also full of slow burners where audiences and critics react with a ‘huh’ or worse a “WHAT” but over time the beauty and utility of the work is seen by the community. Note that in either case the orchestra etc needs to be technically proficient and willing to work hard and the conductor know where they all are going…
D Guttenplan in the New York Times reviews initiatives and progress in open educational movements, noting that its not just about content but how it is being used and also how it could be financed:
Economics are one barrier to the growth of open resources.
“Our business model is floppy,” said Fred Mulder, a professor of O.E.R. at the Open University of the Netherlands, pointing out that as more material becomes available free, universities will need to find alternative sources of revenue. “If you don’t ‘close’ education in certain ways then you are out of business.”
The US recently held an Open Education week – more info at Why Open Ed Matters
By Virginia Postrel and Glenn Reynolds: