In 2009, a 15 years old boy grabbed headline in Shanghai China for scoring the highest points in Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Out of the first five top positions, four were scoped by Asian countries. These countries included South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore. For the four countries to achieve the best in education certain factors are similar to their education system. Some of these factors include:
High value on education
In Asia, parents and the society as whole train young children to the idea that education is very important and therefore one must excel in school to succeed in life. As a result, children begin serious studies at a tender age, supplementing regular school with tutoring
The high quality of teachers
In addition to competitive salaries and bonuses for high-performers, teachers enjoy respected status in many Asian countries. As result education sector tends to attract the best and strong talents. Many Asian teachers have a positive professional attitude and they have real career projections to achieve. Every new teacher is paired with mentors who train, guide and inspire them to greater heights. All teachers regardless of the teaching level are eligible for 100 hours of free professional development each year. Those who demonstrate leadership skills receive additional training.
Many teachers have an assumption that the more time they spend in class the better the outcome. However this assumption has been proven to be wrong as teachers in Asia often spend few hours in class. In fact more time is spend for classroom preparation. Students are left with more time to research, mentoring, demonstration and able to learn using different activities. An actual study in 2010 indicated that upper secondary teachers only spend 27 percent of their teaching time in class. The major reason why student are able to utilize more of the extra hours is because they have been trained to value education.
Use of Leaner centered approach
In successful Asian systems all policy and programmes focus on student learning. In learner centered method the teachers involve the learners in the learning process. This creates self awareness and as results interest is stirred which eventually leads to development of skills and retention of knowledge.
Research to improve education
Asian educators visit the US and other Western countries to identify with their education systems in order to foster creative thinking. Many seek training on pedagogical practices that encourage creativity. For instance, Singapore has built a highly successful education system largely based on ideas borrowed from other countries
Innovation and Reforms
Universities aim at training to develop innovators in high-tech enterprises. Asian countries develop reforms that aim to produce “skilled people” enabling the localities develop basic education, improve secondary education, develop vocational and technical education and improve the graduate-assignment system of institutions of higher education. Not only do higher institutions provide quality education they also aim at being world class universities.
Good performance in school should go hand in hand with producing skilled man power. As a matter of fact the Asian countries are producing qualified man power. China for example has some of the best engineers. Countries that have poor education have a lot to learn by emulating the education systems in Asia.