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Summary and Initiatives

Progress report on the seven general targets

"Quality that can be seen" shows that in many areas there has been a positive development in relation to the targets set. When it comes to the target that the education system shall offer education and training for all, it appears that an ever increasing proportion complete a course of education after basic school – girls, however, to a greater extent than boys. It is in particular the general upper secondary programmes which attract a greater proportion of the young, whereas the vocational upper secondary programmes receive a declining proportion.

It is a positive feature that an increasing number of students build on to their upper secondary education and complete a short-, medium- or long-cycle higher education programme, as the total number has increased by 32% over the past 10 years.

For the group of young people who want a practical training place, the situation is however not satisfactory, although more students have been given the possibility of admission to school-based practical training. In order to increase the number of practical training agreements, an agreement was reached between the social partners and the government in the spring of this year. It is the intention that an additional 5,000 training places are to be established before 2004 so that 36,000 training agreements can be drawn up each year.

The target formulated at political level is that 90-95% of a year group are to complete a qualifying course of education at upper secondary level. This target has not been met yet, although the development is moving in the right direction. It appears from the educational profile for 1998 that just under 20% of all young people do not complete a course of education at upper secondary level. The more individually organised upper secondary programmes such as the open youth education programme (fuu), the vocational basic training programme (egu) and the production school programme contribute to ensuring that there is also an offer for those students who do not have the resources or who are not initially motivated to follow a qualifying course of education at upper secondary level. With these schemes, important youth groups seem to have been reached.

There is still some way to go, before the target that 50% of a year group are to complete a higher education programme has been met. According to the educational profile for 1998, 40% complete a higher education programme today. The decision to revise the short-cycle higher education programmes and gather them into 15 main groups, which was adopted by the Parliament in the spring 2000, seems to have been very well received by the students - to judge from the number of applicants in July 2000. In the same way, the establishment of centres for higher education (CVU’s) is expected to strengthen the medium-cycle higher education programmes.

In order to meet the targets set, there is good reason to continue the development of the education system. It should comprise offers for the still large groups who have not completed any education beyond basic school and for those groups who wish to build on to their present education.

There seems to be a strong motivation for continued education in the population. This among other things appears from the fact that an increasing number of young people continue in adult education and in continuing education and training.

The Danish Parliament’s adoption of the adult education and continuing education and training reform (the so-called VEU-reform) in June 2000 constitutes an important contribution to a strengthening of the educational possibilities of people who left school early, but who later on find out that they would like to improve their more elementary academic skills. But the reform is also important for the group who wants a formal occupational competency at vocational upper secondary level or higher.

The reform means a more flexible and efficient clarification and accreditation of competencies acquired in working life. It is to contribute to making it easier and more expedient to get on in the education system. This applies both to citizens with a Danish qualification and to citizens who would like an evaluation and recognition of their foreign qualifications. For the latter group, the Centre for Assessment of Foreign Credentials came into existence in 2000.

In order to ease the way through the education system, it is essential that the target about coherence in the system is met. An increasing proportion of the young people in the Folkeskole participate in presentation and bridge-building courses. In particular the bridge-building courses seem to be a well-suited way to give pupils in the Folkeskole a realistic impression of the programme and school they plan to seek admission to. It may have the effect that more young people will opt for a programme at upper secondary level. The number of school changes thus seems to be reduced and the dropout rate lowered.

Dependent on the areas of education, it moreover typically takes Danish young people one or two years to get started after the qualifying education at upper secondary level. After 1998, there has however been a tendency for young people to be admitted to a higher education programme a bit earlier. This is on the one hand due to the fact that there are fewer to apply for admission to the programmes, and on the other hand that there has been an extension of the number of study places. This tendency is strengthened by the fact that the admission system via quota 2 has now been changed, and this makes young people start earlier with a study programme.

In the vocational education and training area, the average student tends to be older. This is among other things due to the fact that a large group of women have been admitted to the vocational education and training programmes at the end of the 1990s. The positive effect is that it becomes possible for a great number of people with a low level of educational attainment to take a qualifying course of education.

In the higher education area, there are very big differences between the individual programmes when it comes to the proportion of students completing the programme they have initially been admitted to. It is characteristic however that a major part of those, who drop out of a programme, commence on an often related programme at a somewhat lower level. The acquired competencies can to some extent be used in the new programme.

It is difficult to assess the effectiveness of the exploitation of resources. If we look at the expenditure per student full-time equivalent in higher education, we have in the 1990s seen a drop in the expenditure in terms of fixed prices, although there are big variations. In the Folkeskole area, the teacher/pupil ratio has increased a little from 1989 to 1998, whereas the opposite tendency is seen in the area of upper secondary education. If we look at the teacher/pupil ratio by itself, it will appear that it is not a question of a more effective resource exploitation.

When it comes to the target that the Danish population is to have a high level of educational attainment, there is a clear tendency for the population to stay longer in the education system, i.e. 15.7 years on average. Compared with the other OECD-countries, a greater proportion of the Danes complete a course of education beyond basic school, and they stay for a longer time in the education system. At the same time, it is still a very great proportion of the adult – mainly male – population, whose basic knowledge may be feared to bee to poor in relation to many future work functions. The adult education reform will hopefully be able to contribute to changing this state of affairs. It is of decisive importance, as it shows a clear correlation between level of education and employment, as longer education generally leads to better employment prospects. It also appears that participation in for instance adult vocational training courses (AMU) has a positive employment effect for unemployed course participants. Education is thus to be instrumental in promoting a target of growth and development in society.

In order to promote a development perspective, the views of the recipients and the users are taken into consideration. Only very few studies have however been undertaken of the recipients’ and users’ views of the education and training they receive. The studies referred to here do not give immediate rise to any major concerns. There is no doubt however that there is a need for more flexibly organised courses for the individual student, as participants’ possibilities of exerting an influence on their own courses and teaching has a motivating effect.

The Parliament’s motion for a resolution on a youth education programme from 1999 and the democracy act from June 2000 are to contribute to promoting this process, as they deal with pupil/student participation and new teaching methods.

Denmark takes part in a number of international surveys – not least to assess whether the teaching is of a sufficiently high professional standard. This is among other things done in order to assess Danish pupils’, students’ and adults’ level of subject-specific, general and personal competencies. The OECD-surveys have among other things contributed to focusing on Danish pupils’ level of knowledge. The results have been varying. Of concern was not least the achievement of basic school pupils when it comes to reading skills. Their level in mathematics and science was around average for the participating countries. The Danish upper secondary education students did better in mathematics in a corresponding TIMMS-survey.

In order to maintain and develop a high level in the individual subjects, it is important that initiatives are taken both at central and at local level to assess the level of the teaching of the subjects. The development of a local evaluation culture is seen more and more clearly in the education system. The evaluations build on a target-oriented study of the pupils’/students’ results and views of the education and teaching they receive. At the same time, a number of the Ministry’s education orders require that pupils must be given the possibility to participate in the organisation and evaluation of the teaching.

With the establishment of the Danish Evaluation Institute in the middle of 1999, it is expected that a better picture will be provided of the quality of Danish courses of education and the teaching on the one hand and of the institutions’ achievement of the targets set for the courses of education on the other hand. Through visits to the schools, the Ministry of Education wishes to continue to promote the local process and follow up on the evaluations that have been carried out so that the level of the teaching in the individual subjects can continue to be developed.

Progress report for the five general prerequisites/framework conditions

This edition of "Quality that can be seen" shows that almost all Danish teachers have a formal qualification in education, and that almost all have a relevant occupational background, where this is required.

Furthermore, there seems to be a very positive attitude to in-service training among the teachers. The extent does however vary somewhat between the areas of education and the individual institutions and can therefore not be specified in more detail. There is however no doubt that in order to maintain and develop the subject-specific, pedagogical and management competencies it will be necessary to strengthen the development of the qualifications of both school teachers and management. A number of initiatives have been taken in this area, for instance the creation of a Master’s programme in general upper secondary pedagogy and the agreement on the development of IT-competencies in the basic school. Furthermore, the teacher training programme and the professional postgraduate teacher training for teachers in upper secondary education have been amended in the last few years. Finally, the teachers’ participation in innovation and development projects contributes to an upgrading of the participants’ pedagogical qualifications. In the management area, an increasing number now also go for more formal management programmes in addition to the short management courses of a more introductory and ad hoc-related nature.

When it comes to the pupils’/students’ qualifications and motivation, it turns out that the completion rate of students in upper secondary education is stable, and that it is increasing slightly in higher education.

Something which is characteristic of Danish pupils and students is that they to a very great extent have a job next to their studies. In the section on support functions, it can be seen that the extent of occupational employment largely depends on the state of the market and thus the possibilities of finding part-time employment. It is however only the students in upper secondary education with a lot of occupational work who experience that it affects their schooling. The effect which the work has for the pupils’ and students’ learning and subsequent integration into the labour market has however not been examined in more detail. Similar studies have not either been carried out concerning the occupational work of students in higher education.

When it comes to the training of guidance counsellors, it turns out that the duration of this training in the different educational and guidance areas varies a lot, but that there are variations between the counties.

When it comes to the financial and physical framework, it is noted that the public expenditure on education makes up slightly more than 7% of the GDP. The proportion has been increasing slightly in the course of the 1990s. In an international perspective, this is a comparatively high proportion.

The growth has varied in the different areas. It has been most pronounced in higher education and not least in the adult education and continuing education and training areas, where we have seen a rather substantial growth. This has subsequently led to a change in the order of priorities in selected areas (AMU, non-residential folk high schools and open education).

It is characteristic that the expenditure on salaries makes up 71% of the total expenditure. Non surprisingly, the highest proportion is found in the basic school area (76%), and the lowest is found in the adult education and continuing education and training areas (60%).

When it comes to IT and materials etc., we have among other things looked at the number of pupils per computer and their access to the Internet. In these two areas, Denmark is well placed seen in an international comparison. A more recent analysis furthermore shows that approx. 94% of the municipal primary and lower secondary schools (Folkeskoler) are adequately covered by an IT-action plan. The computers are used broadly in the Folkeskole, albeit most at the highest form levels. A study carried out in 1999 shows that more than 50% of the teachers at the vocational colleges have a high profile when it comes to personal use of computers in connection with their work. It is however only approx. 20% of the teachers who more systematically see to it that the students use computers in connection with the teaching. There is therefore still a need for initiatives which can shed a light on how and on which areas IT can with advantage be integrated into the teaching.

In order to further the process, a political consensus has been reached this year in the basic school area, which means that a budget of DKK 340 million will be allocated for IT-purposes. Similarly, the development programme for the upper secondary education of the future also has IT as an action area.

When it comes to orientation towards continued development, demands have been made in the Folkeskole area that action plans for the schools’ activities should be formulated at municipal and school levels, which 67% of the municipalities already have or are about to have done. In other areas of education, a number of initiatives have been launched which on the one hand are to inspire for and strengthen the local development of systems for the work with quality development, and which on the other hand require the introduction of a procedure for quality development. The general characteristic features are dialogue and self-evaluation with focus on the process and the results of the teaching. The assessment of the effect of the initiatives will among other things appear from the evaluations which the Danish Evaluation Institute will be able to present in the coming years.

In the area of research, the establishment of the Danish University of Educational Studies (DPU) constitutes an innovation which is largely to promote research in new learning methods and pedagogical processes. Finally, the continuing education and training is strengthened through the Parliament’s decision to establish centres for higher education (CVU’s).

The establishment of Learning Lab Denmark in the middle of year 2000 is among other things to enhance the contact between businesses and universities. The initiative will create the framework for concrete experiments with new learning forms and contribute to promoting projects on how organisations and people develop new knowledge.

With regard to the extent of the internationalisation, it is not possible to give a precise picture. It can be seen that there is an increased participation in international projects, not least EU-projects at all levels. The establishment of the new information centre for international exchange (CIRIUS) in June 2000 joins three existing centres (ACIU, ICU and PIU) and parts of the Secretariat of the Danish Rectors’ Conference together in one organisation. The new centre will be administering the EU-programmes, and it will contribute to promoting the international exchange of teachers and pupils/students.

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© Undervisningsministeriet 2000

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