For my work at anyways.eu, I’ve been tasked to make sure that all schools are in OSM - especially with capacity.
No better way to do this by making it easy for contributors to add the correct data… So, I wanted to create a MapComplete theme for education. Normally, I would open up the wiki to see what tagging is needed, but for schools there is very little tagging available at the moment, which is a mess.
As it turns out, schools are diverse and this is reflected in the tagging.
This diary entry serves two goals:
- I want to organize my thoughts on how a tagging model could look like
- It is meant to stir up some discussion.
Hopefully, some tagging proposals will come forward from from this post.
So, what is a school (or educational institute) anyway?
This is already a hard question. The openstreetmap-wiki on ‘education features’ states:
Education features are map objects and object features which relate to educational activities
Well, thanks, captain obvious.
Let’s turn to the International Standard Classification of Education (from Unesco) instead:
As national education systems vary in terms of structure and curricular content, it can be difficult to benchmark performance over time or monitor progress.
So, in other words, it is difficult as this can be highly different amonst regions. The ISCED-document however does a good job to draw some lines and to give some definitions.
What does a standard school curriculum look like?
In most countries, the school trajectory for most people (according the the ISCED, page 21) looks more or less as following (but the precise ages can vary with a few years):
Before formal education starts, kids younger then about 4 or 5 go to preschool/kindergarten. This is optional in most countries, and some education takes place, often to prepare spelling and simple math. ISCED calls this level 0
Between 4-6 and around 12, kids learn to read an write, learn basic math skills and other skills. This is called primary education and corresponds with isced level 1
Between 12 and 14/15, kids get lower secondary eduction and learn more skills and competencies (isced level 2).
Between 14/15 and 18; kids get higher secondary education (isced level 3).
Note that the secondary levels have a split between education preparing for (a set of) trades versus a general training which prepares for tertiary education.
These orientations are called
At age of 18, someone who has obtained upper secondary education, could join the workforce, could follow non-tertiary education (see below) or could enroll in tertiary education.
The first cycle of tertiary education are often bachelors (often 3 years, but 2 years is pretty common too) and correspond with isced level 6, after which a master degree (often 2 years) which corresponds with isced level 7 can be obtained.
At last, a doctorate can be obtained which corresponds with isced level 8.
If, at age 18 someone does not want to enroll in tertiary education or isn’t ready yet for the labour market yet, they can also follow a post-secondary non-tertiary (ISCED level 4) education. This is an education which is not sufficiently complex to qualify as tertiary eduction and often has a vocational training, thus a training which prepares for direct labour market entry. Note that the ISCED does not state typical ages for this education form, as it is often taken by adults too.
At last, isced level 5, officially called short-cycle tertiary education provides education to prepare for following bachelor degree, e.g. if the skills obtained by a vocational secondary degree are not sufficient to enter a bachelors degree.
What if the education is non-standard?
A good tagging scheme doesn’t break under special cases. Lets have a look at some of them to test the waters.
While most of the people might follow a trajectory as outlined above, many don’t.
The ISCED-definition leaves wiggle room by more or less defining what skills one gains in a certain education level - not at what age someone typically obtains these skills. While the typical ages are stated in the ISCED, they are not the defining features.
Some examples of non-standard trajectories could be:
- Someone who has never had the chance on learning how to read might enroll in primary education as an adult.
- Someone with a learning disability might be obtaining the lower_secondary skill, even though people of their age age are in higher_secondary.
- Someone in their forties might wish to reorient their career and follow a vocational course of the skill level of a vocational_upper_secondary.
- Someone might follow a course in music, dancing, skiing or scuba diving as a hobby in an informal school during the evenings, while still working their job during the day.
This last example also touches upon specialized schools. How should these be handled? Examples of these schools are:
- driving schools or flight school.
- a secondary school which focuses on arts, but has enough general skills to be compatible with ISCED-level
upper_secondary? And what if this school contains a college with a bachelor degree in music too, in the same buildings?
So, this implies that knowing the
isced-level of a school is very useful and often does imply the age of the pupils, we still need a way to express whom is going to this school.
Who is the school for?
By default, we could assume that most schools are normal schools where pupils follow age-adequate courses.
This is not always the case. Some schools focus e.g. on secondary education for adults, other focus on people with disabilities.
To tag this, I propose to introduce a tag
If this tag is missing, one can assume that the school is for normal-abled people whom follow courses typical for their age.
In some places, schools are separated by gender too. Some schools are boys/girls only, others teach both but they are separated. ~~This might fit this tag too, but not quite.~~ Update: As it turns out, this is already handled by school:gender
At last, a school might provide different levels that are often not grouped. E.g. a primary school might include a preschool. One can even conceive very special settings, e.g. a single university building which has an embedded kindergarten for the kids of the teachers!
What does a school teach?
The further in the education system, the more specialized education gets.
Where all primary education teaches more-or-less the same subjects, secondary education already starts to specialize.
And tertiary education is extremely specialized, with faculties teaching about just one field.
I propose to introduce a
school:subject-tag, which indicates what subjects are taught at a school.
This must be independent of the ISCED-level. For example: a school might focus on “teaching music”,
which can range from evening school for adults, to a secondary school that qualifies as
isced=upper_secondary to even a college in arts having doctorate students.
Giving an exhaustive list of possible values is impossible, but some common values could be:
- arts, music, dance, painting, …
- to disambiguate, a wikidata-entity could be linked
school:subject would also remove the need for various extra amenities, such as
amenity=music_school, reducing complexity.
Other details and assumptions (e.g. target audience and offered education level) can be clarified as explained above.
Schools which do teach skills without general education (e.g. a driving school) could thus be tagged with:
A college, tagged with
amenity=college thus implies
isced:2011:level=professional_bachelor. Whether or not a
master-degree can be obtained at that college can not safely be assumed.
At last, there are multiple ways to teach students. Especially secondary education has a rich variety. In Flanders, we have Montessori schools, Freinet, Steiner, CLIL, … This could be worthy of a tag too, e.g. with
Schooling language and taught languages
Schools might be operated in different languages - especially important in areas where multiple languages are spoken. As it turns out,
school:language is already in use for this, but wasn’t documented in the wiki. Now it is!
Of course, there are still other well-established tags important too, such as
capacity, contact information, … I’m not covering them here, as these are already widely accepted.
Some colleges offer master degrees for people who already obtained a master degree. How to tag those?
What is a college in OSM exactly?
Schools are diverse in the subjects and the level of education they teach, how they teach and who they teach. This makes tagging difficult. This post describes a possible method of splitting these subjects into orthogonal tags which can be independently measured.
This blogpost attempts to give a first attempt, but of course, I’m only aware of my own environment. There must be other types of schools which I’ve never heard of before, so if you know of something that is considered an ‘educational feature’ which cannot be tagged with the tags described above, please let me know.