Issue 68, April 2015
Asian economies have experienced exceptional economic growth in recent decades. In the sphere of education, certain Asian countries have recently been ranked top in international surveys such as PISA. As a consequence, Asia is receiving increasing attention. Does Asia have its own education model(s) that the rest of the world would do well to better understand? Issue 68 of the Revue internationale d’éducation de Sèvres aims to cut through the received ideas and seek out the educational realities within this complex and multifaceted continent, which still faces considerable challenges. Based on an international conference organised in June 2014 at the CIEP, the issue draws on contributions by 45 academics from 18 countries and several disciplines. These rich and varied contributions examine the Asian education “miracle” and highlight the tensions at work, as well as the reasons for successes. This unique comparative perspective demonstrates that any reflection on the future of education in the world must now involve Asia.
An issue published to mark the 20th anniversary of the Revue internationale d’éducation de Sèvres.
Une approche comparatiste en éducation
Twenty years of the Revue internationale d’éducation de Sèvres
Marie-José Sanselme, Alain Bouvier
Open access in the humanities and social sciences: Recent developments
Education in Asia
Coordination: Marie-José Sanselme, Alain Bouvier
Introduction [pdf - 923 Ko]
Au miroir de l'Asie : questions d'éducation comparée
Alain Bouvier, Roger-François Gauthier, Marie-José Sanselme
An overview of the context
Changing the learning paradigm in the Asia-Pacific
UNESCO’s regional perspective
Gwang Jo Kim
The Asia-Pacific region has undergone much change in recent decades, leading to considerable economic growth, higher mobility and the increased use of ICTs. Yet notable challenges still remain, including natural disasters, rising inequality and social tensions. On the education front, the Asia-Pacific has made remarkable achievements in expanding access to education at all levels. Progress in terms of quality of education and learning has however been mixed among sub-regions, and in East Asia where student performance in international assessment tests has been outstanding, competitive educational processes and high-stake examinations have led to the proliferation of shadow education and less-than-satisfying learning experiences for students. For countries to further economic and social development, education systems need to ensure learners develop holistically by equipping them with a variety of skills-sets requisite for leading fulfilling, productive lives in this 21st century era.
The master as the fount of meaning
A reflection on the figure of the master in Vietnamese culture
Le Huu Khoa
In this article, the author examines the status, role, function and place of the master in Vietnamese popular culture, considering the human dimensions in concrete, ethical and spiritual terms. Drawing on proverbs and sayings, he shows how the Vietnamese people expresses its unconditional faith in the master when it comes to learning. This mental process of ascension to knowledge is based on the human relationship that develops between master and disciple, a relationship that entails total commitment to one another.
Education in Asia and the challenges of development
Home to 56.4% of the world’s population, Asia is a young continent in the midst of demographic transition. With 1.6 billion young people aged between 0 and 24 years, never before in its history has the continent had to support such a large school- and training-age population. The quantitative and qualitative challenges are therefore immense. Faced with the country’s needs and demands, education systems are experiencing great strain in responding to the challenges of a development trajectory that – one hopes – will demonstrate greater fairness, solidarity, balance and sustainability.
Asian pupils’ results in international surveys
Jean-Marie De Ketele
This contribution proceeds in four stages. The first analyses the most visible and widely reported aspects of the 2012 Pisa results for twelve Asian countries, as well as the OECD average, Finland and Canada – two reference countries in the West owing to their good results – and France. The second stage extends the analysis by seeking covariations between the above-mentioned results and objective indictors characterising the countries in question. The third stage highlights the non-visible aspects of the international tests using a series of important bipolar questions. Finally, the last stage seeks to identify a number of hidden aspects. In order to thoroughly understand the education systems of the countries under analysis, the author invites us to look beyond the results currently available and, more broadly, to better grasp what the concept of quality reveals (besides efficiency, equity and pertinence, three concepts that should not be dissociated).
A matter of trust? The expansion of the shadow education
Case studies : India, Malaysia, Taiwan
Schooling has been a pillar of social structures in Asian societies for decades and even centuries. However, recent decades have brought signs that families may not have full confidence that schooling by itself is adequate to meet their needs. One obvious manifestation is the expansion of the shadow education system of private supplementary tutoring. This itself has different forms in different countries.
Discourses, curricula, funding, organisations, models
Discourses and narratives on education in Asia
Case studies: China, South Korea, Pakistan, Vietnam
Laurence Cornu, Pierre-Louis Gauthier
This article explores the theme of narratives and discourses on education in four countries in West, South-West and East Asia: China, Korea, Pakistan and Vietnam. How does a turbulent modernity narrativise its history? How do divergent justifications and discourses on education coalesce within this narrative? The authors show how each particular situation can be described and analysed to tease out the significant characteristics of a common and contemporary process of questioning.
Curricula at the core of challenges
Case studies: China (including Shanghai), India, Japan, Singapore
Inscribed within their own educational traditions though having often been influenced by the West, curricula in many Asian countries are beginning to interest the non-Asian world. These political and educational traditions are promoted and combined with new pedagogical ideas as well as new perspectives on implementation that confer greater autonomy to actors. The four countries considered are nevertheless confronted by the educational imperialism of the market, the effect of which is to destabilise the policies and social equilibriums sometimes found in the educational context. Yet the new cultural diversity of pupils – which sometimes separates groups only according to when they moved to the city – is also something that systems have to grapple with to avoid educational discrimination. As such, a number of curricula include intercultural skills.
Education funding in Asia
A cross-sectional study and three case studies: India, Japan, Vietnam
The transition from the “Asian drama” described by Myrdal at the end of the 1960s to the “Asian miracle” of the 1990s is a turnaround that has left no observer indifferent. The idea that there might exist an efficient “Asian model” of education funding has enabled the state to once again assume a central position in defining educational priorities and coordinating the action of other operators in the field. This probably explains why Asia has been able to lead calls for international aid to be rationalised. A source of innovation, Asia is also a prime testing ground for funding.
Developments in school organisation in the face of socioeconomic changes
Case studies: China, South Korea, Laos, Sri Lanka
In just a few decades, most Asian countries have experienced a rapid transition to a globalised economy associated with often spectacular economic growth. The consequences of this brutal shock entail important social changes in countries marked by cultural traditions. They also foster societal needs and demands that place education and training among the major challenges in these countries. How are education systems developing in the face of these changes? How do political will and pressure from society relate to one another?
Can we speak of (an) Asian model(s), and what lessons can be learned?
A cross-sectional study and three case studies: East Asia, Indonesia, Japan
Jean-Marie De Ketele, Bernard Hugonnier
Media coverage of the results of international surveys has raised the question of an Asian education model. The authors examine three hypotheses. The first hypothesis makes the case for plural education systems, its main argument being the heterogeneity of such a vast continent in various respects. The second hypothesis nevertheless identifies tensions common to the different Asian education systems. The third reveals that the highest performing countries and economies in educational terms are characterised by a shared culture, remarkable economic development and stable governance. This therefore poses the question of the influence that the highest performing Asian systems can have on other countries, whether Asian or Western.
What prospects for Asia?
Prospects for the growth and development of education in Asia
Asia’s current rise to power, spearheaded by the two giants that are India and China, creates a number of expectations and aspirations with regard to development and education. There is talk of an “Asian century”. But what does this rise to power actually signify and how can it occur in a plural and multifarious Asia? In this context, what trajectory should the development of education take in order for current evolutions to make good their promises? Are Asian countries on the right track to confront the challenges of the 21st century? Among other aspects, this article advocates greater collaboration and mobility between Asian countries in the areas of research and training, beyond strictly national concerns.
What prospects for other continents?
Does the Asian education miracle really exist?
Reflections on an international conference on education in Asia
What were the reasons that led attendees from eighteen countries to participate in the international conference “Education in Asia in 2014: What Global Issues?”? No doubt fascination with the Asian mirror and a curiosity and desire to be better acquainted with innovative educational practices and policies, but also a backdrop of international competition between countries. Avoiding two pitfalls – the rejection of comparison in the name of the singularity of each context, and excessive generalisation of decontextualised models – the conference refuted the received idea of an Asian education miracle. There exist several Asias – not one – where numerous questions remained unresolved. This observation does not mean we cannot draw on reflections from these Asias, particularly with regard to reforms.
Australia’s regional relations in higher education
Les relations régionales de l’Australie pour l’enseignement supérieur
This article analyses the complex and changing relationship between Australia and Asia – in particular the ASEAN countries – in the area of higher education. Since 1974 this relationship has been structured around three main themes of educational cooperation: Asian languages, education as a form of international aid and the international mobility of students. More recently, collaboration between universities has also become a major part of exchanges between Australia and its Asian neighbours. However, the potential to deepen and develop relations between the ASEAN countries and Australia with regard to higher education remains largely unexploited.
Latin America and the success of the education policies of the Asian tigers
José Weinstein, Macarena Hernández
The results of international surveys chart the educational success of certain Asian countries such as South Korea, Singapore and Japan whose situation is the opposite of educational realties in Latin America. Concentrating on education policies and using data from the Talis report 2013, this article analyses the distance separating certain Asian and Latin American countries in terms of teaching and teachers. It also examines the specific obstacles that the Latin American region must overcome in order to progress in the field of teaching, and insists on the importance of creating relevant education policies that strive to learn and draw inspiration from the successful policies of the Asian tigers, rather than copying them.
Lessons from Asia: Big principles, global imperatives
The past five years have seen Asian economies growing exponentially, and Asian students capturing top scores in international assessments such as PISA. Consequently, many countries around the world seek to unlock the secrets of Asia’s success. This article looks beneath test scores and discrete strategies to surface possible lessons Asia might offer that could transcend culture and context. It begins by deconstructing the idea of “Asia” as monolithic, then offers two lessons in the form of fundamental principles—using Singapore as an illustrative case. It concludes by outlining several global imperatives that demand a world focus on people versus rankings.
A shared grammar of schooling
Reflections on globalisation
The international conference “Education in Asia in 2014” brought together experts from twenty countries and from extremely varied origins and cultural traditions. Besides the interest and richness of the analyses it produced, the conference revealed a remarkable fact: schooling – in the sense of an educational order and organisational matrix such as it emerged in Europe – is now a globalised phenomenon. The invasion of the world by Western modernity is now universally considered an established fact. Yet the greater immediacy of cultures and civilisations vis-à-vis one another, particularly as a result of the development of the media and migration, will be one of the major challenges that politicians and leaders of teaching systems in Western and Asian countries will have to meet over forthcoming decades.