Ministry of education, Flanders: Oppose the plans to phase out geography!
This petition had 743 supporters
The Ministry of Education has decided to reform the 3rd grade TSO (technical education, age 17-18) / KSO (art education). They plan to replace part of the geography course for those students who do not study (natural) sciences in favor of natural science.
We agree with the general principle of inserting science goals as long as they constructively connect with geographical themes inside the geography curriculum. (like evolution theory - with clear links to geology, or radiation - with connections with cosmography).
The current proposals do not do this and we fear the plans go much further: we believe they will lead to the medium-term phasing out of geography - they are calling the 'new' course 'science-geography'. The Ministry has completely failed to justify this intervention.
We do not agree with the Ministry proposals for the following reasons:
1) The content of the existing geography course is socially relevant (just watch the news) and we believe it must remain as a whole in the core curriculum.
2) The argument made by the Ministry that the 'geography goals no longer meet the definition of the concept of core education' is not based at any form of (scientific, professional or pedagogical) research, there has not been any form of investigation or enquiry to justify these proposals. This is not a normal way of proposing and implementing such reforms. It appears to be the vague ideas of a few advisors and we believe it only serves as an excuse to limit the amount and type of geographical education for the benefit of including certain science topics (like genetics and reproduction).
3) Consultation has proved to be an empty concept, discussions came after the decision had been taken to make the proposals. Comments and ideas made by stakeholders have been completely ignored.
4) If we want students - especially those who do not continue their studies to a higher level - to have a good social basis then geographical education for them is essential, many social problems can only be really understood through studies of geography.
5) The Ministry argues that, in the 3rd stage TSO / KSO all students should study science is not endorsed by the 8 European key competences. On the contrary: the 4th key competence on science specifically refers to studies that can only be undertaken through geography.
6) The general reform goals are reasonable, but implementing them in a positive and constructive sense is needed, to offer students a better understanding of and behaviour in today's society. In fact we are very disappointed that highly relevant reforms, for instance. much greater emphasis on GIS and spatial thinking, have not been proposed.
7) Should the Ministry consider their proposals for the implementation of the science goals so important, then they must provide the time and hence the financial resources so that schools can develop them properly.
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