For­mer Mor­rin stu­dent awarded for in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion re­search

The Drumheller Mail - - NEWS - Patrick Ko­lafa

A for­mer Mor­rin School stu­dent has been awarded an in­ter­na­tional prize for his re­search on the pri­va­tiz­ing of ed­u­ca­tion ex­pos­ing is­sues in a model of ed­u­ca­tion tout­ing pri­vate low-cost schools.

It was an­nounced that Cur­tis Reip is the re­cip­i­ent of the Al­bert Shanker Award. It will be pre­sented at the Ed­u­ca­tion In­ter­na­tional World Congress in Thai­land this com­ing sum­mer.

“Of­ten times you do re­search and with this kind of work, you are not too sure to what ex­tent it is go­ing to have any im­pact in the world. I have been quite for­tu­nate the re­search I have done has been looked at by global ac­tors, col­leagues, and peo­ple around the world that says this is mean­ing­ful work. It has been very val­i­dat­ing and quite an af­fir­ma­tion for my­self to con­tinue to do this kind of work,” Reip tells the Mail.

Reip grad­u­ated from Mor­rin School in 2004, and he is work­ing on his Ph.D. in Ed­u­ca­tional Pol­icy Stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Al­berta. His spe­cial­iza­tion is in so­cial jus­tice and in­ter­na­tional stud­ies in ed­u­ca­tion. Part of his re­search has taken him to Ghana, Uganda, and the Philip­pines. One of his pri­mary fo­cuses has been on a move­ment towards low­cost pri­vate schools. These are of­ten billed as in­ter­na­tional pri­vate schools, and while they ad­ver­tise as pro­vid­ing qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, of­ten the costs for ac­cess to these schools is still very high es­pe­cially in the de­vel­op­ing world, and of­ten the ed­u­ca­tion out­comes are not as promised.

“In some of these coun­tries, their en­rol­ment rates are not as high as they are here, so a lot of stu­dents aren’t in school. So a part of their (these schools) busi­ness mod­els is to come in and pro­vide fur­ther ac­cess for stu­dents,” he ex­plains. “Cer­tainly the is­sue of ac­ces­si­bil­ity is one that I touch on in my re­search, but the key dis­tinc­tion to make when we are dis­cussing ac­ces­si­bil­ity in re­la­tion to these com­pa­nies is when you put a price tag on ac­cess to them that is go­ing to be a bar­rier. A lot of these low­cost pri­vate schools, although they are ad­ver­tised to gov­ern­ments and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties as pro­vid­ing a ser­vice to the most marginal­ized… in com­mu­ni­ties that are lack­ing those re­sources. But in re­al­ity, when you at­tach a fee to it, you are not go­ing to reach the poor­est of the poor, the most marginal­ized. What we see is they are cre­at­ing a mar­ket­ing for school­ing or a dif­fer­en­ti­ated mar­ket.”

Along with ac­ces­si­bil­ity at is­sue is the qual­ity of the ed­u­ca­tion.

“The big­gest take­away from the re­search that I have done on these schools is in terms of qual­ity. Teach­ers, in terms of fi­nanc­ing, are the most cap­i­tal­in­ten­sive as­pect of any ed­uca- tion sys­tem. So the abil­ity to em­ploy pro­fes­sion­ally trained and qual­i­fied teach­ers take up the high­est de­gree of fi­nances in any sys­tem. What is hap­pen­ing in the schools I have been do­ing re­search on is they are not hir­ing qual­i­fied or pro­fes­sion­ally trained teach­ers, or at least the ma­jor­ity of them are not. This is a cost-sav­ing tech­nique for the schools,” he said. “By hir­ing peo­ple that don’t have an ed­u­ca­tion or teach­ing back­ground or aren’t ac­cred­ited to teach, they then pay them se­verely low wages as a way to cut op­er­at­ing costs and in­crease profit mar­gins.”

“If we looked at our own con­text whether we are in Drumheller or Cal­gary,” I think peo­ple would be quite out­raged to hear school dis­tricts were hir­ing un­qual­i­fied teach­ers to cut costs, so why would we ex­pect this would be some­thing le­git­i­mate in these other coun­tries?

Ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease from In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion, Reip’s re­search in­ves­ti­gated Bridge In­ter­na­tional Academies, a for-profit chains in Uganda. He pro­vided ev­i­dence that helped to con­vince the Ugan­dan gov­ern­ment to act and close the chain.

Ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tions that nom­i­nated him, CTF (Canada) and UNATU (Uganda), “over the last half a dozen years Riep has made a con­tri­bu­tion to qual­ity pub­licly-funded pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion through­out the world that most could not hope to make in a life­time. His per­sonal con­tri­bu­tion to en­sur­ing all chil­dren have ac­cess to qual­ity, in­clu­sive, pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion re­gard­less of their so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus, gen­der, or the coun­try they call home is out­stand­ing.”

Reip tells the Mail his ex­pe­ri­ence grow­ing up in Mor­rin and at­tend­ing that school helped to shape his out­look on qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion.

“Grow­ing up in Mor­rin, I went to the same school from kinder­garten to grade 12. It’s an old coun­try school out on the prairies and some of the teach­ers that taught my older sib­lings also taught me, and some of those teach­ers even taught my mother. In Mor­rin, the school was re­ally a com­mu­nity hub, a gath­er­ing place, a place to learn about cit­i­zen­ship and com­mu­nity and I think this had a big im­pact on my un­der­stand­ing of what school means in so­ci­ety. That is part of my mo­ti­va­tion for the re­search I am do­ing now,” he said.

Reip is com­plet­ing his Ph.D. in the next year and then he hopes to con­tinue to do re­search.

“Whether it is to re­main in academia, whether it is con­nected to a univer­sity or col­lege or work­ing at a re­search cen­ter, or gov­ern­ment as well, Those are things I am mov­ing towards in the fu­ture,” he said.

sub­mit­ted

For­mer Mor­rin SChool stu­dent Cur­tis Reip is the re­cip­i­ent of the Al­bert Shanker Award for his over­seas re­search on low-cost pri­vate schools.

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