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Strongest Education Systems
Over the last few years, major changes have occurred in the world ranking of nations’ education systems. Five countries that claim the strongest education systems have successfully implemented methods that may help countries with high poverty rates and weak education systems.

In descending order, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Finland claimed the top five rankings for strongest education systems in 2015. Four of the top five are Asian countries or territories.

According to MBC Times, these countries outperform others because they value engagement and accountability culturally and their education systems emphasize effort over “inherent smartness.”

Each of the top five initiated unique tactics that have increased the quality and accessibility of education:

  1. South Korea
    South Korea emerged as the number one ranked education system in 2015. With a yearly budget of just over $11 billion, South Korea spends more money on education than many countries.
    Children attend school seven days a week and are expected to work very hard from a young age. As a result, South Korea has made impressive strides in literacy rates. According to Fair Reporters, nearly 100% of the population — 99.2% of males and 96.6% of females — is literate.
  2. Japan
    Japan experienced great success in recent years by incorporating technology into its education system, providing its students with tremendous resources. In addition to demanding hard work from students, Japanese educators value extracurricular activities highly. According to Fair Reporter, students in Japan are generally expected to participate in extracurricular activities.
  3. Singapore
    Impressively, Singapore ranks third with a school system that the Singaporean government made up from scratch. Singapore’s school system values deeper education through conceptual learning over traditional schooling methods, which often encourage simple memorization and repetition. Singaporean educators focus on training students to be problem solvers and thorough thinkers.
  4. Hong Kong
    With a 94.6% literacy rate, Hong Kong has an education system similar to the United Kingdom’s. The Social Welfare Department oversees education, ensuring that each level of schooling works together to produce a fluid education experience. According to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong has more top-200-rated universities than any other Asian country or territory.
  5. Finland
    Finland, who lead in the ranking for years, has dropped below Asian countries since 2012 but is still notable for its holistic, free education system. The Finnish education system values education outside of the classroom; school days are kept short and followed by school-sponsored educational activities. Finland’s teachers are some of the finest, most educated in the world.

Although major educational improvements have been made worldwide, many poor countries still have weak education systems that need systematic reform. Education systems like those of South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Finland are guiding the way forward.

Their methods, such as incorporating out-of-classroom education, requiring extracurricular activities, increasing education budgets, valuing conceptual learning, using technology and hiring well-educated teachers, could contribute to educational growth in poor countries worldwide.

Alex Fidler

Photo: Flickr

Education in Singapore
For the first time in history, Singapore has been named as having the top two universities in all of Asia. This includes the National University of Singapore, which rose 14 spots in the World University Rankings since 2012. The method for success goes back many generations, as education in Singapore instructs not only academics but teaches respect for authority and an understanding of the gravity of education.

Singapore, among other Asian nations, neared the top of the international league tables for over a decade. These tables measure child proficiency in reading, math, and science, with high scores showing the success of Singapore’s education system. Singapore’s education method is to approach classrooms with a highly-scripted way of teaching, making teachers ‘teach to the test’ instead of adapting to children’s different needs.

Students in Singapore ‘learn how to learn,’ a generally ineffective method that has been unusually successful in Singapore. Instead of checking the students’ level of understanding, teachers are instructed to check whether students can get the correct answer. The prescribed national curriculum sets the standard by which students learn, with little flexibility or deviation.

Singapore’s universities have been able to compete in the global economy by pouring financial support into research and strategically positioning each university. From the start, students are instructed on their expectations through primary, secondary and post-secondary education.

However, the first lessons students learn are how to know and how to love their country. By strengthening the pupils’ appreciation for their country, they then also appreciate the meaning of receiving an education.

Students in Singapore have been instructed since birth to follow the national and cultural standards that reproduce the instructional regime. Teachers instruct with a type of ‘folk pedagogy’ that reinforces the nature of their instruction, such as ‘teaching is talking and learning is listening.’ However, in recent years these policies have relaxed to lessen student stress.

Despite their unorthodox success, Singapore is realizing that balance is just as important as educational prowess. Education in Singapore has changed to accommodate more stress-relieving activities, such as white-water rafting, since experts in Singapore’s education system now aim to give students a more well-rounded life.

The goal is to move students from being academic-based people to leading emotionally-healthy lives, a change that should positively impact Singapore’s education system. With a combination of previous methods and these new changes, Singapore’s high status in education in Asia and around the globe should remain consistent.

Amanda Panella

Photo: Pixabay

education in singapore
Singapore is the most developed country in Southeast Asia and one of the most developed countries in all of Asia. Its education system is an accurate reflection of that development as Singaporean students consistently rank as some of the best scoring students on international assessments.

In the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an annual global study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Singapore ranked second in mathematics, third in reading, third in science and second overall for student performance.

And the students excel in more than just test scores.

Singaporean students won numerous international science and mathematics competitions in 2014. At the 27th International Young Physicists’ Tournament, for example, the Singapore team took first place. At the 25th International Biology Olympiad, the 46th International Chemistry Olympiad, the 55th International Mathematics Olympiad, the 26th International Olympiad in Informatics and the 45th International Physics Olympiad, the Singapore team consistently won multiple gold and silver medals.

Singapore undoubtedly has high quality education and exceptional student performance due to the structure of its education system. For children between the ages of 6 and 15 years old, education is compulsory, but there is also a social norm to proceed on to tertiary education and to succeed.

Singapore currently has four universities and five polytechnic institutions that focus on practical degree programs in disciplines like tourism, biotechnology, engineering, business, communications and hospitality management. The quality of Singapore’s primary, secondary and tertiary institutions is so high that 86,0oo international students come to Singapore to study.

Findings from the 2013 Teaching and Learning International Survey by the OECD explain how and why Singapore succeeds in providing quality education. According to the survey, teachers receive not only extensive training before they reach the classroom, but also professional development throughout their careers as instructors. School culture is reported to be collaborative and teachers are highly respected in Singapore.

Ho Peng, Director-General of Education, says the quality of education in Singapore starts with creating quality teachers. “Ensuring that our teachers are competent and professional is critical, to bring out the best in every student and prepare him or her to meet future challenges,” Peng said. “We will continue to look for ways to support our teaching force to enable them to do their best for our students.”

Singapore’s education model is successfully rooted in core ideologies, pragmatic approaches and societal norms. Students have for many years performed unparalleled in academic competitions and test scores, and the country will continue to see successful development because of its superlative approach to education.

– Joseph McAdams
Photo: The Real Singapore