2007 Convention - Opening Presidential Address
International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI)
Honourable Minister of Education and sports, Mr Milan Zwer
I would very much like to welcome you to the 20th Annual Conference of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement in wonderful Portoroz. On behalf of the ICSEI Board, I would like to thank you for attending and contributing to the sharing of ideas and the discussions that will take place here. ICSEI has for 20 years been a very important and influential educational organisations. It has developed from a small group of researchers who met in London in 1988 into what is now an international community linking researchers, policy makers and practitioners from more than 70 countries. Our members network widely and have access to key educational thinkers and ideas through ICSEI’s annual conferences which has spanned most parts of the world, its newsletters, its website and associated journals.
The ICSEI 2007 Portoroz Organising Committee has chosen a theme: “Professional Challenges for School Effectiveness and Improvement in the Era of Accountability” that is very timely and critically important in this period of time. In this era we experience an ever increasing flow of goods, information and ideas from one part of the world to the other. This is in part due to a flow of people from one country to the other – look at ourselves at this occation, and it is due to the flow of finances and goods. One source of influence, when it comes to education, educational politics and educational research are the supra-national agencies like the EU and transnational agencies like the OECD and the World Bank. Those agencies help governments to set the agenda for educational debates when they conduct international comparisons like the ‘Program for International Student Assessment’, the PISA study or the ‘Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study’, the SIMMS study. Policy makers, researchers and practitioners get the opportunity to compare the outcomes within a rather narrow field of their school system with some 40 other educational systems and thus exercise what the OECD names ‘peer pressure’ onto each other. Unfortunately the forms of accountability put into work here are hardly ever discussed in public, but the impact on schooling, teachers and leaders can prove immense. I therefore welcome the opportunity we get here in Portoroz to address and discuss questions of accountability, autonomy, professionalisation and leadership in relation to school effectiveness and school improvement in changing and diverse contexts.
The ICSEI Board would like to thank and congratulate the ICSEI 2007 Portoroz Organizing Committee and its chair Andrej Goren for organising this Conference. We would also like to offer special thanks to all of their supporting organisations and other sponsors for their generous support. ICSEI is extremely grateful for the commitment they have shown to enhancing education for all children and young people. I shall conclude this welcome by wishing all of us a rewarding and enjoyable conference.