Blog | OWIS - Singapore

Education Trends in Asia - and Why it Matters

Posted by Michelle Dickinson on 23/12/19 20:00

Education: In the Beginning

Not so many years ago, education was a fairly simple thing. Government schools everywhere muddled along, continually constrained by local politics and economics. And private schools usually relied more on their name and status than their academic record.

Rote learning, memorisation and the so-called three R’s (Reading, writing and Arithmetic) were the main focus of schooling.  Academic success almost meant that you were qualified or had the skills to take on a clerical role in an organisation or government entity.

But things have changed dramatically now.

With the era of cheap and accessible air travel, the prevailing family unit underwent a similar shift. Way back in the ‘70s it was usual for the father to go away to work or travel to other places, to provide for the family. The children were, in many cases, sent to boarding school, especially if the mother also worked outside the home. It was an accepted pattern.

But now the nuclear family tends to stay together, travelling in a unit to wherever need takes them. In the past, the children’s education was of little import. But now it’s become of such significance that often opportunities in one city will be passed over in favour of another where the schools are better.


The Climate Today

Today there are a great many international schools, serving 4.5 million students with 420,000 teachers. And the demand is rising. Most of the students in these schools are from expat families working abroad: diplomats, professionals looking for an international experience and corporate managers taking on global roles. But such a proliferation of educational opportunity has given rise to some interesting observations.

It has now emerged that there’s a vast difference between these international schools and not all schools are created alike. OWIS, for instance, has become a world-leading example because it’s affordable and produces consistently happy children who achieve high academic results. But there are a plethora of less-consistent alternatives out there.

So how and why has this happened? Is it simply that we’ve built our foundations on the solid bedrock of effective management and dedicated teachers? Indeed we have, but experts have realised that, in today’s climate, things have become more complex.

Trending Towards Educational Excellence

Professor Ralph Tabberer, ex-Director General of Schools at the UK Department for Children, Schools and Families (et al), has spent his life involved with education and observes that “success is partly due to effective management: better-managed schools, carefully maintaining a clear vision and strong leadership, with quality teachers and plenty of professional development, and which build systematic solutions are considered to be the route to better outcomes.”

Today we’ve progressed to what Professor Tabberer has dubbed the ‘Age of Co-Production’: schools are specifically aiming to involve the parents. And not merely in being ‘involved’ in occasional parent-teacher evenings. In a paper by, it’s noted that parents who have a symbiotic and sharing relationship with their child’s school give rise to socially-adjusted and academically successful children.

The Era of Co-Production

Parents who talk to their children about what they see, who read to them and who listen to their children read, who take their children on visits at weekends, and who know how to constructively praise them for effort rather than achievement, produce well-adjusted and successful offspring. And where parents, schools and students jointly take responsibility for education, such as with OWIS, student results get even better. This is what’s meant by ‘Co-Production’.

Today, the successful school in Asia is focussing on and encompassing our multicultural global society, utilising the benefits of diversity, continually aiming for integration and, as a result of this harmony, achieving a high quality of education.

Realistic Costing

But Professor Tabberer has one further observation. He’s discovered that very often the schools which levy the highest fees don’t produce the goods. In Dubai, for example, a significant number of the best-performers in international examinations charged fees that were one-third of the top-priced schools – and went on to state: “. . . moderate-fee schools, like OWIS, can be – and should be – just as effective at education as higher-fee schools and, in some cases, the schools can be even more effective. Why? Because schools and parents can learn how to merge quality with efficiency. I call this the ‘New Age of Enlightenment.’”

Effective Child-centred Education

This leaves little doubt that education has now entered an exciting new phase. Educational leadership is now the most significant factor in the bubbling hub of progressive schooling today, and the stress on being child-centric has never been more important – or as effective!

To know more about how One World International School personalises every student’s educational experience, while building a community of interconnected learners, do contact us today.



Topics: Nanyang Campus, International School


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