Education for the new time
The Government of the Republic of Macedonia will develop an integrated educational system that will effect increase of the economic growth, as well as labor productivity and it will increase the chances of youth for quality working posts. Our goal is for the system to provide greater societal integration in ethnical, regional, social and cultural sense, to encourage critical thinking and active citizenship.
The last results of PISA testing of the students in the Republic of Macedonia show that we need urgent and thorough reforms of the education. That reform will be preceded by a broad public debate in which all entities in the area of education, civil organizations and professional associations will take part. The concept that will come out of that all-inclusive debate will start with its implementation in 2018. Making benefit of the others’ productive experiences and good practices, we will build our own concept of education, appropriate to our needs and abilities, this respecting the European standards. We will give full support to the teaching staff and we will defend the honor, dignity and autonomy of the teachers’ profession. The teachers in Macedonia deserve that support because without motivated teachers there are no successful educational changes.
The Government will lead a policy for rationalization of curricula and decrease of the overload of the students in the primary and secondary education. We will focus on mathematical and linguistic skills and courses, which are important for development of the key competences of children. The capital investments in the education, as well as engagement of the teaching staff will be dictated by the need for accessible and quality education for all children. Those investments should help in achievement of the goal for average students per class to be 25 students.
The Government will respect the autonomy of the university and dignity of professors and thus, the state universities will be fully responsible for the functioning of the high education according to the constitutional and legal provisions. The Government will propose new way of managing the university, which will lead to a more efficient and more transparent university.
Economic growth will also be accelerated with investments in science. The Government will establish state fund for research and development and thus, the present budgetary financing which is minimal (0, 2 of GDP – fifteen times less than the recommendation of the Europe Strategy 2020) will be increased for 50% in the first budget with that aim Macedonia to set aside between 1% and 1.5 % of GDP for research and development at the end of the mandate.
The Government will propose annulment of the external testing as a project, which created great revolt by the teachers, and it created annoyance and discontent of the students and their parents. External testing degrades all the efforts and labor of the teachers and students in the course of the entire scholar year, and it did not lead to increased quality. We will introduce evaluation and testing of the students, but without additional input of grades in their final certificates and without sanctions for the teachers. Valuation of the acquired knowledge will be made continuously. Those schools that will show bad results, they will be given additional assistance and support for improvement of the teaching.
The present coverage of the children from 0-6 years in pre-school education, in average is just 23%, whereas with the smaller ethnic communities it is less than 10%. That is unsatisfactory and it will have negative impact for the future development of the Republic of Macedonia. The Government will co-finance every increase of the capacities of the state kindergartens in the whole country. Our goal is for percentage of children in the pre-school education to be increased for 50% in the course of 4 years. The Government will prepare a precise plan for enlargement of the kindergartens net throughout Macedonia. With the investment, we will secure reconstruction and building of new kindergartens in many urban and rural areas, among them Struga, Gjorce Petrov, Sopishte, Centar, Aerodrom, Tetovo, Tearce, Gostivar, Lozovo, Karbinci, Chair, Shuto Orizari and others.
In order to prepare children for entrance into 9-year primary education, the Government will introduce compulsory one-year pre-school education as an integration measure. This will contribute for making children that are coming from different social environments equal, as well as for start of educational process elements that vanished from our educational system in the past years. Children should have equal access to education, as it is the key for their further success in life. This step will be fully free of charge for children in municipalities that are prone to population decrease and have unfavorable economic development.
The system of primary education in the first 5 years will only be with descriptive grading. Only afterwards, (the following 4 years of primary school) there will be numerical grading. Hence, the pupils and the teachers will be devoted to the quality of knowledge and not to racing grades.
The Government will offer high school education that last two, three or four years: we will keep the classical gymnasium education and the four-year vocational education, but we will also introduce possibility for completion after the second and third year of vocational education. The change will be such that the first staff will join the labor market after finishing two or three years of vocational education, on their age of 17. Namely, those that want to join the labor market should not be kept in the educational process, as the issue is about young people that show weak results in the higher level of education. To those young people we will provide fast access to the economy and time to mature and plan its own business career with the possibility for later finishing higher education.
Instead of policy of sanctions, the Government will promote policy of rewards and stimulations. The employees in the best 5% primary and 10% high schools, as well as the teachers, whose pupils will achieve reward on municipal and state competitions, will receive 20% bigger salary in the following 12 months. The schools that will be in the upper 10% according to the results achieved with their own educational quality will be granted the right to mark additional points on the final certificates, as schools with above-average results.
Apart from compulsory courses, we will introduce in schools extracurricular activities for greater creativity. We will release the teachers from administrative obligations, but we will demand from them to work with young people on development of their talents.
The Government will stimulate strengthening of the school teams with professionals from different profiles: educators, psychologists, and teachers for disabled, sociologists, speech therapists, social workers and medical professionals (where there is need for them).
The Bureau for Development of Education will be restructured and it will develop into Institute for Development of Education. This will be a state educational “think-tank” in the framework of which several sectors will work and they will continuously design research in the area of education with the aim to improve the quality of educational system.
The Government will establish Scientific – Research Center for talented pupils in which they will be able to acquire additional knowledge, to prepare for state and international competitions and to start more serious research work.
In a period of one year, the state commissions composed of university professors and supported by the Ministry of Education and Science, will evaluate all textbooks for primary and secondary education and they will set clear rules that must be respected. Those textbooks that have fundamental errors in matter and which are unsuitable for the age of the pupils will be withdrawn from usage. Concomitantly, in the curriculum we will conduct release of unnecessary and harmful content, in particular those that incite aggression, intolerance, hate and discrimination.
Greatest part of the textbooks and other means will be accessible in electronic form. For this measure the Government will stimulate: domestic authors, audio-video production, production of educational and scientific-popular shows as school materials with content and subject matters from the curriculum. We will encourage national televisions to devote time for broadcasting of these programs which will be aligned with the educational curriculum. Implementation of this measure will create equal opportunities for quality education in all parts of the country.
The Government will initiate reform and restructuring of the vocational high-school education in cooperation with the private sector. In this way, the companies may participate, in programming and financially, in this level and kind of education. Hence, the vocational schools will become more attractive for the pupils, in particular with the possibility for direct employment after completion of this kind and level of education. Moreover, we will promote mechanisms and instruments with the aim of which the employers will be motivated to cooperate, to invest and to participate in the activities of education and training. In that regard, the measure for relief of profit tax up to 30% for investments in the area of education is also foreseen.
In the whole country, generally, the mismatch between the market demands and the supply of skilled labor force is obvious. With the preparation of the National Framework of Qualifications, we will enable connection of the educational programs that are being offered by the high – education institutions with the economy and the labor market.
In the past period, the university was intentionally put on the margins of the society, and the professors were being silenced. With deregulation of the high education, the Government will secure the constitutionally guaranteed autonomy, academic freedom, dignity and the reputation of the university.
We will give back the autonomy to the university, not only because the professors should enjoy more privileges, but because of the fact that the progressive societal changes and libertine ideas derive from the university; the present knowledge is being questioned there and also transferred, and moreover new one is being created. Therefore, our imperative will be investment in science and academic work. The Government will propose new manner of financing and managing the universities. The Law on High Education will go through full revision with the possibility of adoption of a new law on high education following a broad debate. The draconian punitive provisions that are being used at the moment for threatening of the university staff and limiting the university autonomy will be repealed.
Provision of quality in the higher education will be a top priority. In a partnership with the academic community, the system of university accreditation and evaluation will be reviewed, according to the European standards and directions for quality provision, with particular attention to the regulated professions and the professional high education. Through these standards, the quality of the dispersed studies and the private universities will be reassessed, as well as their socio-economic justification and need.
Negligence for the quality of the high education has led to a hyper-production of diplomas without competitive knowledge and skills. Results of the research show prolonged education, inappropriately designed teaching process and average quality of studies. Our obligation is to provide for full support of the universities and the faculties so that the abuses of students and parents come to an end.
The Government will enable legal and operational independence of the Board for Accreditation and Evaluation, as basic preconditions for fulfillment of the criteria for attaining the status of full member of ENQA (European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education) and EQAR (European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education).
Universities must be returned to the professors and the students, and they should not be used for political or party influence in implementation of their teaching, scientific and staff policy. It is time the state universities are truly reformed, not through centralization of the activities and the functions, but through more democratic and more transparent management and giving more “power” to those that are directly affected in the process of higher education: professors, their originating institutions and the students. The authorizations of the rectors, the deans and the directors have to be susceptible to review, and not be concentrated and executive as they are at present.
The best-graduated students will be given opportunity, under mentorship of more experienced professors, to volunteer as teaching staff in primary and secondary education in a period of 1-2 years. The best students must be employed and their stay in Macedonia must be stimulated. This will contribute to raising the quality of the teaching process, as well as rejuvenating the teaching staff.
The Government will support again opening of lectureship for Macedonian language in foreign universities in other countries, in particular EU member states. Greater care will be taken for appropriate use of mother tongue by all actors that have public influence (media, telecommunication operators, state bodies and institutions) with particular accent to proper usage of the language starting from the youngest population in the beginning of the educational process.
The Government will start construction of a student city in Skopje with fully new modern architectural and horticultural solutions, as well as functional contents: gyms, reading rooms, libraries, restaurants, cinemas and fitness centers. In addition, the Government will finish the construction of the university complex “Mother Theresa”. Additionally, the Government will build a new students building in Avtokomanda with over 700 beds through public – private partnership. In Bitola, Stip and Tetovo, the cities where state universities have their seats, we will build university campuses, through reconstruction and preadaptation of the present facilities, completion of appropriate new infrastructural contents and increase of the capacities of the present dormitories.
Changes in education must go in parallel with improvement of physical conditions where our children study. The Government, in cooperation with the local government units, will propose solutions to the problems of basic infrastructure and heating of schools. Every year, the Government with the municipalities will have a debate regarding the investment fund in the infrastructure and it will adopt a decision on priorities that will not be based on party or business interests, but on the interests of the pupils and of the teachers in the Republic of Macedonia. We will build new high schools in the municipalities of Tetovo, Kumanovo, Aerodrom and Novo Selo.
The Government will introduce the system of lifetime learning according to the European standards, partly with the benefit of the European funds and programs which target this exact goal. With this concept, we will endeavor in building society which will offer equal opportunities for access to quality education for all people, in the course of entire lifetime. Thus, one will enable completion of qualification, requalification in the working lifetime of citizens, ability for greater creativity, opening of new businesses, as well as decrease of social pressure.