Friday, December 2, 2011

Books on Education in Asia

This is a selection of books on education in Asia:

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.

Education Reform in Singapore: Critical Perspectives edited by William Choy and Charlene Tan.  Many ongoing developments in the world of educational theory and practice are considered in these 15 thoughtful essays on the processes of reform and reevaluation of Singapore's education system at present taking place. Eight papers deal with institutional reform, three with school leadership and teacher development and three with organisational management.

Education in Vietnam edited by Jonathan London, Jonathan.  Vietnam is a country on the move. Yet contemporary Vietnam's education system is at a crossroads. Rapid economic growth has permitted rapid increases in the scale and scope of formal schooling, but there is a prevailing sense that the current education system is inadequate to the country's needs. Sunny assessments of Vietnam's achievements in the sphere of education have given way to a realisation that the country lacks skilled workers. Some have even spoken of an "education crisis". These are not abstract concerns. What is occurring in Vietnam's education system today has broad implications for the country's social, political, economic, and cultural development. Featuring contributions from scholars and policy analysts from within and outside Vietnam, Education in Vietnam addresses key issues pertaining to the political economy of education, the provision and payment for primary and secondary education, and the development of vocational and tertiary education.

Education, Economy and Identity: Ten Years of Educational Reform in Thailand by Audrey Baron-Gutty and Supat Chupradit.  This IRASEC study of educational reform in Thailand is based on field study mainly in the North of the country and focusses on the changes and reforms which have followed the 1999 National Education Act. Chapter 1 on curriculum implementation uses data collated by Chiang Mai University. Ethnic minorities and identity/cultural tensions are then discussed. The pattern and intergration of vocational and technical education and the role of local "Fix It Centres" are then exposed. Then the potentials and possibility of implementing "co-op education" at tertiary level are raised. The final critique calls for the implementation of fundamental rethinking and changes to enable firm patterns of "co-op education" to meet the needs of "knowledge-based" society. Bibliography and glossary.

The Changing Role of Schools in Asian Societies: Schools for the Knowledge Society by Kerry J. 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.

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