Saturday, February 19, 2011

Books on Educational Issues in Asia

This is a list of books that cover educational issues in Asia.

Education & Knowledge in Thailand: The Quality Controversy edited by Alain Mounier and Phasina Tangchuang. If an observer asked today whether Thailand is becoming a "knowledge-based society", the reply might be yes - provided that the country continues to invest in the education of her citizens. Yet the authors of this book take a strongly critical view of Thai education. Investing more money in education is certainly essential, but it will not automatically lead to a knowledge-based society. On the contrary, they say, current changes in policy and approach are actually moving Thai education away from transmitting and producing knowledge and scholarship, away from developing and honing individual abilities to think and learn. This failure parallels world trends: the uncontrolled and unbalanced increase in enrolment; the interference by political and economic interests in the orientation and management of educational institutions; and the commodification of education - in particular, privatisation, internationalisation and vocationalism. These symptoms are diagnostic of the so-called diploma disease which pervades the system. Public policymakers in Thailand are unfortunately too quick to compromise and may be unable to reverse this trajectory. The book is a lively interplay between theory and well-documented facts. It offers a quantitative and qualitative analysis which is fundamental to understanding the overall situation of Thai education, to advancing the debate on educational quality and to charting a course for the future. It will appeal widely to educators, students, parents, academics, researchers and policymakers who are concerned about the state of education in Thailand.

Education as a Political Tool in Asia edited by Marie Lall and Edward Vickers. This book offers a fresh and comparative approach in questioning what education is being used for and what the effects of the politicisation of education are on Asian societies in the era of globalisation. Education has been used as a political tool throughout the ages and across the whole world to define national identity and underlie the political rationale of regimes. In the contemporary, globalising world there are particularly interesting examples of this throughout Asia, ranging from the new definition of Indian national identity as a Hindu identity (to contrast with Pakistan's Islamic identity), to particular versions of nationalism in China, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam. In Asia education systems have their origins in processes of state formation aimed either at bolstering 'self-strengthening' resistance to the encroachments of Western and/or Asian imperialism, or at furthering projects of post-colonial nation building. State elites have sought to popularise powerful visions of nationhood, to equip these visions with a historical 'back-story', and to endow them with the maximum sentimental charge. This book explores all of these developments, emphasising that education is seen by nations across Asia, as elsewhere, as more than simply a tool for economic development, and that issues of national identity and the tolerance - or lack of it - of ethnic, cultural or religious diversity can be at least as important as issues of literacy and access. Interdisciplinary and unique in its analysis, this book will be of interest to scholars of political science, research in education and Asian Studies.

The Changing Role of Schools in Asian Societies: Schools for the Knowledge Society by Kerry Kennedy and John Chi-Kin Lee. Walk into a classroom in Tokyo, New York, London or Rotterdam, and the similarities in structure, activity, purpose and style will outweigh differences in language, dress and ethnic characteristics. Learning is regulated and rationed, teaching is a process or one-way transmission of knowledge, students need to be docile and conformist, assessment needs to sift and sort the bright from the not-so-bright, and rewards will be given to those who successfully negotiate this regime. But are these the kinds of places that can meet the needs of the 'net generation'? This volume is concerned with the debate about the nature of modern schooling in Asia. Traditionally schools are historical constructions reflecting the social, economic and political needs of the societies that invest in them. As Asia faces the challenges posed by the 'knowledge economy', its schools have taken on a new and quite different importance. This informative book outlines the broad policy contexts in which these transformations are taking place and the practical strategies that are needed to meet this objective. The authors argue that the future of Asian societies depends on a transformation that requires a fundamental restructuring of schools as we know them while maintaining their long-held cultural values. This book provides an overview of educational issues in Asian societies, establishes a broad theoretical framework in which these issues can be understood, contextualises issues by providing country case studies, and acknowledges the important role of culture influencing educational priorities.

E-Learning in China Universities by Wu Qidi. This book gives a comprehensive account of e-learning courses offered in universities in China. It reviews traditional forms of distance education - correspondence-based, radio-based, and television-based learning - and describes how these have contributed greatly to the development of higher education in China. With the wide application of modern information technologies, these traditional forms are gradually yielding to e-learning. Cases where e-learning was successfully implemented are described.

Globalisation and Tertiary Education in the Asia-Pacific: The Changing Nature of Dynamic Market edited by Christopher Findlay and William G. Tierney. The rapid development and adoption of technology along with open economies has created an integrated global economy. The globalisation process has brought with it significant changes in all areas of life, including tertiary education. This book outlines the features of the new wave of globalisation and draws out specific trends and challenges associated with this new wave for universities and policy makers.

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