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Not Every Education System is Identical across the Asian Pacific

When it comes to the quality of education across the Asia Pacific region, the disparity is immense. This is mainly due to its sheer size and the number of universities across the area.

There is no doubt that globalisation and diversity are a major challenge for the education systems in this region. The three pillars of environmental, social, and economic sustainability are key factors that add rich diversity in this region. It is a region that has one of the fastest growing economies.

With such diversity, the education for sustainable development (ESD) mapped out how this region is advancing in its education system. So which are the leading countries in their education systems? Here’s an overview:

China

The primary education sector in China is currently facing internal and external challenges. This is because a shift in family structure has led to an increased influence of foreign values and ideas. Although the educational curriculum is similar to that of America, their methods of teaching are different from regular practices. Children almost never get the chance to study on their own because most tasks are set out for groups only.

The reality is that students in China receive varying quality education at all standards. Parents end up paying more on the schools even though China follows a uniform law set by the 1986 Compulsory Education Law. This law states that schools can have “no coaching or miscellaneous fee.” Still, most parents struggle to pay on high school costs.

Now, China is implementing certain measures to increase the quality of their facilities. In March 2015, it was declared by the Ministry of Education that all primary and middle schools will be equipped with the internet. Each facility will have at least one state-of-the-art computer facility, as decreed by the 2015 plan for digitalized education. This is a step forward as students in rural communities will be integrated into the digital world through access to the internet.

Indonesia

Indonesia has the fourth largest education system in world. With about 55 million students and 236,000 schools, the need for strong quality educational infrastructure and programmes is crucial. 

Quality of education in Indonesia is an area of great focus for the government. In 2005, the country passed the Teacher Law requiring teacher certification from instructors and improved employment conditions. That same year, it introduced Biaya Operasional Sekolah, or School Operations Fund, to allocate funding directly into schools.

President Joko Widodo campaigned heavily on education as he ran for his position. He intends to increase the rate of literacy and the quality of teaching throughout the country. Once in office, he launched the "Indonesia Smart Card" initiative. Since it began in November of 2014, the project aims to provide 24 million youth with twelve years of free education. 

Malaysia

According to recent research carried out by the World Bank, Malaysia is gaining noteworthy increase in the number of students who enroll in education. In Malaysia, the enrollment of students into primary and secondary levels is very high. Approximately 37.2% children are able to complete their primary and higher secondary education. In addition, about 15.3% of people are able to complete their bachelor degrees or higher. The World Bank considers that spending on good education is adequate and it does not hinder the systems improvements. According to the PISA testing results of 2012, Malaysian students perform better than Indonesian students perform and only lag behind countries like Vietnam. 

The only constraints to an improvement in the basic quality of education thus relates to the institutes. The World Bank surmises that a lack in education might be due to the shortcomings in recruitment and training of teachers. It suggests that Malaysia is a centralized education imparting country in the world. Research suggests that 65% of schools should hire teachers only at a national level. Whereas in South Korea, the percentage of teachers being hired at a national level is 5%.

Language 

The primary language of Malaysia is Bahasa Melayu and most teachers deliver lectures to public schools in this language. This was until 2003, when the government set a new policy. The policy stated that every teacher should use English language while instructing students in Mathematics and Science. In 2011, this policy discontinued and the secondary language for primary and secondary schools was English. In countries like Tamil and China,  Bahasa Melayu is taught as their second language and English taught as the Third. When students enroll in universities, lecturers use the English Language only when teaching Mathematics and Computing and Science. 

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