Asian education systems

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As the economic centre of the world shifts to the East, so is the centre of high performance in school education. Four of the world’s five highest-performing systems are Hong Kong, Korea, Shanghai and Singapore, according to OECD’s 2009 PISA assessments of students. InShanghai, the average 15-year old mathematics student is performing at a level two to three years above his or her counterpart in Australia, the USA and Europe

In recent years, many OECD countries have substantially increased education expenditure, often with disappointing results. Grattan Institute’s new report from its School Education program, Catching up: learning from the best school systems in East Asia, shows how studying the strengths of these systems can improve our children’s lives.

Success in these systems is not determined by culture – by Confucianism, rote learning, Tiger Mothers etc. –  nor is it always the result of spending more money. Instead, these systems focus on what is known to matter in the classroom – a relentless, practical focus on learning, the creation of a strong culture of teacher education, collaboration, mentoring, feedback and sustained professional development. 

Many western countries have begun to introduce versions of the reforms that these East Asian systems have implemented, or are talking about doing so. Most have much further to go. This report  provides an extensive assessment of how other countries can implement the lessons of these high-performing systems.

Thanks to the Grattan Institute for this work. Visit the Grattan website to download a copy of the report

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