Why is Asia succeeding in education?

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A recent study from the Institute of Education shows that the culture in Asia plays a big factor in determining children’s success in education.


Die hard educationalist believe that while technology is further developing education, the core teacher is the best resource. While this is true, a recent study shows that students in East Asian Countries are performing at least 2 and half years ahead of students in the western world. Why is this so?  Is it they are harder working, more intelligent or is it more than just this that affects their level of success.


Students in China and Korea are scoring higher in international test which is leading to researchers believing that cultural factors outside of school are assisting in their achievement.  The findings come, after the IoE discovered that students gained lower marks while studying in western education systems that that are considered to be in the top of the Pisa international league tables, while students from East Asian countries scored well even when they are education elsewhere.


Dr Jerrim, reader in education and social statistics at the IoE found that students from East Asian countries are approximately two and a half years ahead of western students by the time they reach 15 years of age. Dr Jerrim carried out his research on more than 14,000 Australian students who took the Pisa maths test in 2012. It was found that students from East Asia that were mostly Chinese born scored 605 points which is 102 points more that Australian born students. Most of the students were second generation immigrants from East Asia.


From the Pisa rankings it was only students from Shanghai in China that beat the second generation immigrants in Australia which came out the highest. Second generation students from Australia and the UK scored 512 in the Pisa maths teach.


In the UK students from chinese origin achieve the highest GCSE scores than any other ethic group with 78% gaining A8-C in their GCSE’s which is 18% higher than the national average.


The Department for Education (DfE) has granted an £11m imitative to bring 50 math teachers from shanghai to the UK to help raise standards. They DfE wants to gain the expertise from the Shanghai teachers to create a hub that will form a network of excellent to help other teachers raise teaching standards across England.


Dr Jerrim stated “The attitudes and beliefs east Asian parents instil in their children make an important contribution to their high levels of academic achievement. Yet as such factors are heavily influenced by culture and home environment, they are likely to be beyond the control of schools. Greater recognition needs to be given to this point in public discourse. Indeed, policymakers should make it clear that there are many influences upon a country’s Pisa performance, and that climbing significantly up these rankings is unlikely to be achieved by the efforts of schools alone.”


Students that took the Pisa test also completed a background questionnaire asking them details such as:

  • Parent’s country of origin
  • Attitudes to education
  • Personal goals and desires
  • Out of school activities

Dr Jerrim reviewed these aspects as reason for success in education by second generation students. The findings shows that factors such as parent education counted for 20% between East Asians to native Australians. Nearly 50% of the secondary generation East Asian children had fathers that were graduated compared to just one quarter of Australian born children.


It was found by Dr Jerrim that “on average, east Asian families send their children to ‘better’ schools than native Australians do…We can’t be sure why this occurs. Their school selection may, of course, reflect the high value east Asian parents place on education. What is clear, however, is that a range of school effects (including the positive influence of fellow pupils as well as the quality of the school) form a key part of the reason that east Asian children in Australia are doing so well.”


East Asian children spent more time studying after school than native Australian students. Work ethic was much stronger and they had a greater belief of succeeding, which was coupled by their desire to have higher aspirations. At least 94% expected to go to university compared to 58% of the native Australians.


[Source: Guardian - Culture, not just curriculum]