Archive for the ‘WORLD’ Category

UN Environment and Moldova fight lead in paint — #FridayFact

Whether in paint used at home on walls, or even covering children’s toys, lead paint can in many countries be more present in our daily lives than we realise.

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How China is winning the school race

12 October 2016.

China’s education performance — at least in cities such as Shanghai and Hong Kong — seems to be as spectacular as the country’s breakneck economic expansion, outperforming many more advanced countries.

But what is behind this success?

Eyebrows were raised when the results of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s international maths, science and reading tests — the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) tests — were published.

Shanghai, taking part for the first time, came top in all three subjects.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong which was performing well in the last decade of British rule, has gone from good to great. In this global ranking, it came fourth in reading, second in maths and third in science.

These two Chinese cities — there was no national ranking for China — had outstripped leading education systems around the world.

The results for Beijing, not yet released, are not quite as spectacular. «But they are still high,» says Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s head of education statistics and indicators.

Cheng Kai-Ming, Professor of Education at Hong Kong University, and closely involved in the Hong Kong and Shanghai tests, puts the results down to «a devotion to education not shared by some other cultures».

Competitive exams

More than 80% of Shanghai’s older secondary students attend after-school tutoring. They may spend another three to four hours each day on homework under close parental supervision.

Such diligence also reflects the ferociously competitive university entrance examinations.

«Not all Chinese parents are ‘tiger mothers’,» insists Prof Cheng. «But certainly they are devoted to their children’s education.»

Certainly both these open and outward-looking cities set great store by education, willing to adopt the best educational practices from around the world to ensure success. In Hong Kong, education accounts for more than one-fifth of entire government spending every year.

«Shanghai and Hong Kong are small education systems, virtually city states, with a concentration of ideas, manpower and resources for education,» says Prof Cheng.

The innovation in these cities is not shared by other parts of China — not even Beijing, he says.

Under the banner «First class city, first class education», Shanghai set about systematically re-equipping classrooms, upgrading schools and revamping the curriculum in the last decade.

It got rid of the «key schools» system which concentrated resources only on top students and elite schools. Instead staff were trained in more interactive teaching methods and computers were brought in.

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