By Chelsea Smith, Zephyrhills High senior
ZHS The Paw Print Editor in Chief
In the United States, every person has the right to receive an education. Sometimes, it seems that students take for granted this wonderful opportunity that is not available in other countries. In other places around the world, only the brightest students who truly have a desire to learn are allowed to move onto higher levels of learning.
Other countries apply somewhat of a Darwinism concept, only the strongest, or in their case the smartest survive. According to students from foreign countries attending Zephyrhills High School, few children in other nations take their educations for granted. They simply cannot afford to.
In Florida, students constantly complain about being forced to take the FCAT. They insist that it is not fair that students must pass this examination in order to graduate. However, in many other countries, there is a test to enter high school.
German foreign exchange student Deborah Herlan provided information about these tests. In Germany, a test is administered to all 10th graders in order to be admitted into the 11th grade. The exam covers three subject areas, German, English and math as well as an essay. If a student fails this test, they will not be permitted to continue on to the next grade level. Instead they must either go straight into the work force or they can attend a technical school.
According to the U.S. Library of Congress, Germany boasts one of the best and most extensive school systems in the world. All students are required to learn two languages in addition to their native tongue. Herlan far surpasses this requirement, she knows five: German, English, Italian, French and Norwegian.
According to Ashly Kuruvilla, schools in India are much more difficult than in this country.
“Here, if you mess up you can take summer school or night school,” Kuruvilla said. “In India there are no second chances.”
Kuruvilla attended boarding school in India from kindergarten up until the fifth grade when she moved to America. Even her time spent in primary school was incredibly challenging academically. Starting in the first grade the children had to learn English. There was more homework than given to students here and teachers were able to practice corporal punishment.
“If you forget your homework, you can’t turn it in later and you’ll get beaten with a stick,” Kuruvilla said. “Teachers have the power to do basically whatever they want.”
Generally, students in other countries show nothing but respect for their teachers. This is most because they are not entitled to their education. In India, as well as Britain, children are required to attend school up until age 14, but a quality education is not free. Only those who can pay are able to continue on in school. The dropout rate for the poor is four times higher than that of the rich.
Despite the higher amount enrolled, a mere fifty percent of children between 6 and 14 actually attend school. Children are sent to work in cottage industries, restaurants, agriculture as well as households.
Given her firsthand experience, Kuruvilla believes there are a lot more opportunities offered in the United States, but children do not understand how fortunate they are. She explained in India it is humiliating to not complete assignments. Most kids in India give 100 percent all the time even though the tests are much more challenging essay exams. Not multiple-choice tests.
Despite the fact that the courses are more rigorous, forget about teachers staying after school to help students learn subjects. If a child in India needs extra help their parents must hire a private tutor. Here, the vast majority of teachers are more than willing to help students after class, but once again many students do not take advantage of this opportunity.
Next year’s senior class president Rainas Wao attended school in Kenya from first grade up to the ninth grade. His experience in Africa vastly differed from that of an American student too. Like in India, teachers in Kenya are authorized to practice corporal punishment. In Wao’s experience, the punishment is very effective.
The education system in Kenya is an 8-4-4 — eight years of primary and four in both secondary and university level. Students attend school all year and learn to speak English in grade one. In order to be eligible to graduate into secondary or high school level, students must pass the KCPE exam.
Wao said he passed this test, but it was very hard. The exam covers everything students have learned and is incredibly confusing. He believes it is much more challenging than the FCAT. If a student fails to pass the exam, they are permitted to retake the eighth grade one time. A student’s failure to obtain a high enough score the second time ends their education.
In order to be accepted into a university, another test called the KCSE is administered. If a student’s score on this exam is not high enough, then they will not be permitted to continue their education. In the United States, even if students do not achieve high scores on the SAT or ACT, many community colleges still allow them to learn.
When asked what children in Kenya would do if they had the opportunities students in the United States have, Wao responded, “If they had this kind of education in Kenya, they would take it a lot more seriously.”
Compared to schools in Germany, India and Kenya, the experience the students receive is very different than the one offered here. The majority of students in those countries value the education they receive because they are required to pay for a quality education.
The rigor of the courses taken by students in foreign schools is much more strenuous than that of schools here because their school systems try to ensure only the brightest students attend college. Becoming more informed about the different educational systems from foreign countries should make American students better appreciate the education they receive.