New Report Examines Education Reforms in East Asian Education Systems

NEW YORK, April 13, 2017 – The Center for Global Education at Asia Society recently published a new report examining the education reform efforts of five East Asian education systems to provide students with skills for the future. The report, Advancing 21st Century Competencies in East Asian Education Systems, is authored by Professor Kai-ming Cheng of the University of Hong Kong and a team of researchers across East Asia.

East Asia is undergoing rapid transformation of its primary and secondary education systems as countries reform education to respond to the fundamental changes taking place in societies and economies in the 21st century. Such reforms are not an addition of new “21st century competencies” to an established set of expectations, but rather, a comprehensive reconceptualization of education and its role in society.

The five systems examined in the report—Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan—share similar cultural heritages and education philosophies, despite differences in polity and ideology. All five are among the world’s more advanced economies and hence are among the first to feel the challenges of the 21st century. With no exception, all five systems have experienced significant, substantial, and comprehensive education reforms, which are ongoing.

According to the report, “all of the education reforms in East Asia started with changed expectations of society in the new era. They began by trying to identify the characteristics of a successful young person in the 21st century, and therefore define the expected competencies that would be required and link them to the core values of the society.”

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