Asian Countries Working on Diversifying and Embracing Creative Learning

Singapore, Korea and Shanghai consistently produce some of the highest scores in education, as measured by international assessments like Pisa, which tests 15-year-olds in maths, science and reading. Many attribute this to the mental mindset of the region, which places high stock on education.

Building on that, student and maths tutor Singapore and across the region are in high demand, the multi-million industry famous for its competitiveness.

Many countries across the world look to the region to understand how these consistently good results are achieved.

Teachers in the region are usually not much better compensated than their counterparts in other regions, class sizes are also often larger and their overall proportion of government financing isn’t much bigger than other countries. Singapore, in fact, has a relatively modest educational budget compared to other high income countries and some developing nations.

One answer to the inquiry, commonly stated around maths tutor Singapore and the like, is private tutoring, which many see as a reflection of the parents’ determination to invest in the education of their kids. Notably, it is also a contributing factor in strong performance as measured by competitive exams.

This, however, have also noted to cause stress, and inhibit creative learning.

Private tutoring is big business in Asia, with market research firm Technavio saying that the global outline tutoring market, on its own, will grow by 14% annually until 2022, with even bigger growth in Asia.

Even though Asian countries are hailed for their education, however, the countries themselves are evaluating their educational systems, in particular wondering if their approach can actually prepare the next generation of people.  Many point out to the focus on rote learning; passive students absorbing facts and primarily judged based on how they perform on a final examination.

Prof. Li Jin at Peking University says that the gaokao, a Chinese iteration of the concept, which he describes as killing diversity, innovation and novelty. Students, he says, strive for the exam because it effectively determines their fate, which is an issue, given that it only tests how good they are at absorbing facts.

The concern of teachers, employers and policymakers in the region is that education focuses too much on restrictive final exams for school-leavers, to the detriment of broader skills, and risks stifling creativity and innovation.

Singapore’s education ministry has been working on what they call a ‘framework for 21st century competencies’, which gives attention to project work, art and cultural studies. In September, the city-state also revealed it’s “learn for life” program, which it describes as part of its efforts to shift from an over-emphasis on academic results. This new program included, among other things, a reduction on exams, as well as the ban on student rankings. These are just some of the changes that are happening in the region.

Many educators in the region, however, argue that the deep conservatism ingrained in parents, politicians and educational staff means that changes will take time, with Singaporean Professor Ng stating that the region is diversifying, but it will take quite some time to shift the culture.


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