Secondary Education



Secondary education covers two phases on the International Standard Classification of Education scale. Level 2 or lower secondary education (less common junior secondary education) is considered the second and final phase of basic education, and level 3 (upper) secondary education is the stage before tertiary education. Every country aims to provide basic education, but the systems and terminology remain unique to them. Secondary education typically takes place after six years of primary education and is followed by higher education, vocational education or employment. Like primary education, in most countries secondary education is compulsory, at least until the age of 16. Children typically enter the lower secondary phase around age 11. Compulsory education sometimes extends to age 19.

Since 1989, education has been seen as a basic human right for a child; Article 28, of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that primary education should be free and compulsory while different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, should be available and accessible to every child. The terminology has proved difficult, and there was no universal definition before ISCED divided the period between primary education and university into junior secondary education and upper secondary education.

In classical and mediaeval times secondary education was provided by the church for the sons of nobility and to boys preparing for universities and the priesthood. As trade required navigational and scientific skills the church reluctantly expanded the curriculum and widened the intake. With the Reformation the state wrestled the control of learning from the church, and with Comenius and John Locke education changed from being repetition of Latin text to building up knowledge in the child. Education was for the few. Up to the middle of the 19th century, secondary schools were organised to satisfy the needs of different social classes with the labouring classes getting 4 years, the merchant class 5 years and the elite getting 7 years. The rights to a secondary education were codified after 1945, and countries are still working to achieve the goal of mandatory and free secondary education for all youth under 19.

secondary education to Levels 2 through 4 together, Levels 2 and 3 together, or Level 2 alone. These level definition were put together for statistical purposes, and to allow the gathering of comparative data nationally and internationally. They were approved by the UNESCO General Conference at its 29th session in November 1997. Though they may be dated, they do provide a universal set of definitions and remain unchanged in the 2011 update.

The start of lower secondary education is characterised by the transition from the single-class-teacher, who delivers all content to a cohort of pupils, to one where content is delivered by a series of subject specialists. Its educational aim is to complete provision of basic education (thereby completing the delivery of basic skills) and to lay the foundations for lifelong learning.

It was assumed that elementary education was basic education, the entitlement for children- and fundamental education was a right for the working man, but for a lawyer the definition is neither qualitative (stating what education means) or quantitative saying when it starts and when it is completed. The term secondary is not defined or mentioned. Together this has enabled countries to terminate free, compulsory, basic education at 11 or only continue education past eleven to boys.

Article 28, of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) stated that primary education should be free and compulsory while different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, should be available and accessible to every child. Free education should be provided and financial assistance offered in case of need. In 1990, at Jomtien again tried to define the content basic education and how it should be delivered. ‘Basic education’ is defined as ‘action designed to meet ‘basic learning needs’. ‘primary schooling’ is considered as ‘the main delivery system of basic education’.

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