Asia & Oceania

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Asia & Oceania
General Overview of Asia
General Overview of Oceania
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General Overview of Asia

ASIA - Education Highlights

Asia has made great progress in reducing the number of out-of-school children. In South and West Asia, the number of out-of-school children, estimated at 39 million in 1990, had decreased to 13 million by 2010. Additionally, some countries in Asia have upgraded their basic education services to include universal secondary education. For some countries, especially the least-developed, increasing access to upper secondary education is a struggle.

Despite gains in access, enhancing the quality and relevance of education remain important goals for many countries. All countries are contemplating how to improve the development of non-cognitive skills in light of the global knowledge economy and complexities of the changing world.

As quality of education has improved in Asia, so has economic growth, resulting in a rise of middle income countries for the region.  At the same time, the quality of learning occurring between and within countries varies greatly, resulting in growing inequality.  Of growing concern is non-completion of formal education, particularly by children who are more vulnerable within education systems (due to language, gender, and ethnicity) or who are disadvantaged (due to disability, location, livelihood, or health).

Decentralization of education management and the growth of the private tutoring industry are two particularly widespread education issues in Asia. Many countries have moved their education planning and management from the national to the local level, based on the belief that actors closer to the school level have a greater understanding of their educational needs. However, this popular reform policy often lacks the provision of oversight and human capacity.  As a result, private tutoring, also referred to as “shadow education,” has flourished in Asia and raises equity concerns. Many countries are challenged to possibly regulate this industry.

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General Overview of Oceania

OCEANIA - Education HigHlights

In Oceania, some countries have achieved universal primary education, some are moving toward it, and others reveal troubling decreases in enrollment trends at the primary level. Access to secondary education is a struggle for many countries in the region—due to the cost implications of serving children in remote or outer island locations and the barriers to upper secondary education created by high-stakes exams.

The relevance of education is a primary concern in the Oceanic countries—many find both a cultural and linguistic disconnect between school and daily life. Language of instruction is an ongoing debate in many countries—particularly because primarily oral indigenous languages need to be transferred to text in order to promote literacy in the mother tongue, but translation and spelling are often contested. Remote areas of the region lack the capacity and infrastructure to provide quality education. Teacher shortages in remote or outer island schools and for specialized subjects such as science, mathematics, and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) are ongoing challenges for almost all countries in Oceania. The use of expatriate teachers for short-term teaching in some countries further raises concern about the relevance of educational services.

To improve the quality and relevance of education services in Oceania, distance education initiatives have been implemented to boost capacity; yet many areas are still without electricity and so students cannot benefit from them.  Recently, efforts are being made to build upon the gains the region has made in early and middle childhood education by providing more resources to support young people from adolescence and beyond. The Pacific Education Development Framework (2009) was created by Oceanic Education Ministers to respond to global education goals and address specific regional needs and challenges. The Ministers of Education meet regularly on a variety of topics—working together through regional networks to meet shared challenges is a great strength of this region.

Sources:

UNICEF Pacific. (2011). The State of Pacific Youth 2011: Opportunities and Obstacles. Suva, Fiji. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
http://www.unicef.org/eapro/State_of_the_Pacific_Youth_Report_web.pdf

E. Hau’ofa, V. Naidu, & E. Waddell. (Eds.). “Our Sea of Islands,” excerpt from A New Oceania: Rediscovering Our Sea of Islands. Suva: University of the South Pacific, in association with Beake House, 1993.
http://savageminds.org/wp-content/image-upload/our-sea-of-islands-epeli-hauofa.pdf

UNICEF Pacific. (2010). Climate Change and Children in the Pacific Islands. Melbourne. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
http://www.sustainable.unimelb.edu.au/files/mssi/UNICEF_report_on_Children_and_Climate_Change_April-2010.pdf

Pacific Education Development Framework. (2009).
http://www.forumsec.org.fj/resources/uploads/attachments/documents/Pacific%20Education%20Development%20Framework%202009-2015.pdf

UNICEF Pacific. (2009/2010). Looking Back, Moving Forward. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
http://www.unicef.org/pacificislands/Looking_Back_Moving_Forward_internet_version(1).pdf

Ethnologue, Pacific. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
http://www.ethnologue.com/country_index.asp?place=Pacific

World Health Organization, demographic data. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
http://www.statsilk.com/maps/world-stats-open-data?1=population%20proportion%20under%2015

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