Tag Archives: Ghana

Valuing referees and teachers: red cards and report cards

When he’s not officiating, World Cup referee Nawaf Shukralla goes fishing. A nice way to escape from a high-pressure job, I suppose. One mistake in tonight’s game between Ghana and Portugal, and Shukralla could be all over the news, mocked for incompetence and accused of corruption.

As an elite referee, he will be well paid for his efforts. But day-to-day referees need more recognition for their roles. In the United States, referees who asked for better working conditions were recently barred from working in the Major League. One in five Bavarian referees say that higher salaries are needed to attract more talented referees.

Despite being society’s next-most important card dealers, teachers also feel underappreciated. According to the new OECD TALIS survey, only one in three teachers across 34 countries think that their profession is valued by society. In Portugal, only one in ten teachers think so.

Red card report card






Undervaluing teachers is an own goal. Korea and Belgium (who face off in Group H tonight) show us that countries where teachers feel valued are also countries where students perform better. Teachers there are given better training, good feedback and sufficient rewards for good performance.

Like the best teachers, Nawaf Shukralla is more facilitator than preacher. He is known as a calm referee who allows play to develop as much as possible. Let’s hope that he doesn’t have to deal with any biters tonight (though I wish him lots of them on his next fishing trip).


Ghana versus Germany (a.k.a. Boateng versus Boateng)

Two brothers playing in a World Cup is an amazing achievement. Two brothers facing each other in a World Cup is a migrational miracle. It’s what we’ll see tonight, when Boateng brothers Jerome and Kevin-Prince don their respective German and Ghanaian jerseys.

Their father Kevin, a child of cocoa farmers, left Ghana in 1981, hoping to study business administration in Germany. It didn’t work out, though. He ended up working odd jobs and fathering two brilliant footballers (to different German mothers).

Kevin’s story made me wonder how things have developed since he tried studying in Germany. How open is Germany to foreign students from developing countries? How do people with immigrant backgrounds fare in German schools? And how do foreign footballers fare in the German Bundesliga?

I’ll look into some of these questions in the coming days. To get started and help you prepare for tonight’s game, here is a little fact sheet.

ImageBy the way, if you’re struggling with your next maths exam, remember that Jerome Boateng did so too. Despite his mother Martina’s efforts, he dropped out of school in tenth grade to pursue his footballing career. Here’s what she has to say about that: “At the time, I didn’t recognize how determined Jerome was. Today I have to say: Kudos!” 

Let the best Boateng win !

If Education for All decided football matches

Brazil will beat Argentina in a stunning World Cup final, says Goldman Sachs. England and Japan, on the other hand, will drop out in the group stages. But what if providing education for all determined World Cup outcomes?

Based on the 2011 Education for All Development Index (EDI) and ruthlessly ignoring issues around UK/English identity, the graph below shows you that England and Japan are the World Cup’s best educators.


It’d be a closely fought final! Japan has strength in numbers: more children are enrolled in school, and more of them reach grade 5. But the UK boasts higher rates of adult literacy. My money is on a Japanese victory – it scores much higher than the UK on gender parity. Continue reading