Hornbill Unleashed

September 11, 2012

Parent group: No oomph in education blueprint

Filed under: Election,Human rights — Hornbill Unleashed @ 2:26 PM
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Aidila Razak

(Full Downloadable Blueprint link inside) The Parent Action Group for Education (Page) has expressed disappointment with the new education blueprint (salient points), claiming it is “nothing new”.

Its chairperson Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim  said the preliminary report is merely “re-labelling” the Education Ministry’s responsibilities.

“There is no oomph or wow factor. Basically they are rebranding or re-labelling thing that are already the responsibility of the ministry,” she said.

Met after the launch of the blueprint in Kuala Lumpur today, she also expressed disappointment that it has avoided “hot topics” like the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English.


She also expressed surprise that the international experts consulted did not advise that English be the medium of instruction for Mathematics and Science.

She said this is even more surprising considering that experts consulted included the former education minister of South Korea.

“South Korea spends 50 percent of its education budget to teaching Mathematics and Science in English,” she said.

“(The blueprint) is to ensure our kids are global players and I don’t see that happening.

“We ta
lk about science and innovation but all of this is in English so why don’t we acknowledge that?”

Noor Azimah added that Page members had raised this matter in dialogue sessions by the ministry in preparation for the blueprint nationwide, and will provide feedback sought now.

The government is seeking public feedback on the preliminary blueprint for education (2013-2025), with the final plans to be presented to the cabinet in December.

According to the preliminary blueprint, Mathematics and Science performance will be improved by benchmarking school examinations against the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

It aims to bring Malaysia, which currently sits at the bottom third of the PISA rankings to the top third among the countries ranked.

koh tsu koon

‘Quality over quantity’

Meanwhile,  Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Koh Tsu Koon said that the blueprint is timely as its focus on improving quality can push Malaysia to compete against the world’s best.

“Before the focus was on quantity, on how many schools or students enrolled but the time has come for quality to be the main priority,” he said.

He also lauded the attention given to teaching staff, as well as the push to make school principals the main leaders of a school.

Koh, who is also Gerakan president, added that the party will be sending a memorandum to the government on the blueprint, after it seeks views from stakeholders including parents and teachers.

Full version of Blueprint for download :- Click Here 


  1. UMNO should obey Prophet Nabi Muhammad SAW advice “Seek knowledge even as far as China”

    Send your kids to tough intellectual Chinese schools, learn Mandarin…nothing to lose but gain multi-lingual advantage…

    It’s a hard fact that just how important China in global trade…home to 4,000 Billionaires….

    Yes 4,000 Billionaires in China now and counting…

    That’s why Nabi Muhammad SAW said “Seek knowledge even as far as China”…

    Even Dr Mamak repeated this in his speech to tell the Muslims…

    Who is UMNO to tell otherwise…???

    China is closing in on having 1 million millionaires
    Estimated 4,000 Billionaires in China
    China Daily, 13 Apr 2011

    SHANGHAI, CHINA – According to an annual wealth report released on Tuesday, the mainland has 960,000 millionaires with personal wealth of 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) or more.

    That is up 9.7 percent year-on-year, said the GroupM Knowledge – Hurun Wealth Report 2011.

    Rising property prices and a fast-growing GDP have been the key drivers for the rising number of Chinese millionaires, according to the report.

    The event, started by a group of four French private investors, takes place at Sanya’s Visun Marina near the town’s center. Almost 150 exhibitors are displaying their yachts, private jets and other luxury toys. Sponsors include Martell Cognac, BMW and Chopard. The show is open to anybody who will pay a 180 yuan fee ($27), but many of the visitors have been invited by the exhibiting brands — some of the elite guests, known as “jet VIPs,” were flown to the resort by private charter plane.

    It found that 55 percent of Chinese millionaires derived their wealth from private businesses, and 20 percent are property speculators who have ridden the fast hike in home prices. About 15 percent are stock gurus, while the remaining 10 percent are high-earning salaried executive.

    This is the third year of the report, written by publishing and events institute Hurun Report in cooperation with think tank GroupM Knowledge.

    In 2009 there were 825,000 such millionaires while last year the number had grown to 875,000.

    Housing prices rose across the country by 13.7 percent in 2010 according to government statistics, with luxury property prices rising even faster.

    High-end property prices in China’s leading financial metropolis Shanghai, for instance, grew 21 percent last year, according to figures from UK-based Knight Frank, one of the world’s largest commercial and residential estate agents.

    Despite the Chinese government’s efforts to curb property speculation and control rampant housing prices, “the overall confidence of China’s millionaires in the property sector and China’s overall economy remains very high,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report.

    “The impact (of the tightening measures) may be on excessive new wealth creation, but I don’t think it is going to affect very much the (rich’s) appetite for luxury products,” said Hoogewerf, known in China by his Chinese name Hu Run.

    “For most luxury brands, the Chinese luxury consumers are now No 1: either representing the biggest market share or the fastest-growing,” he added.

    Of the 960,000 millionaires, 60,000 have been identified as China’s super rich with 100 million yuan or more in wealth, up 9 percent year-on-year.

    Beijing led the way with 10,000 residents boasting 100 million yuan or more, followed by Guangdong province with 9,000 and Shanghai with 7,800.

    The three places also led in the number of millionaires with wealth of 10 million yuan or more.

    According to the report, Chinese millionaires average 39 years old, a full 15 years younger than their Western counterparts. Thirty percent of the millionaires are female, the same as last year.

    The report also put the number of China’s billionaires at 4,000, but only a third were on the Hurun China Rich List 2010.

    “(It suggests) there is still a great deal of hidden wealth in the Chinese economy,” said Hoogewerf.

    Najib praises Chinese role in education
    Bernama, September 26, 2011, Monday

    GEORGE TOWN: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said yesterday he took great pride in the role and contribution of the Chinese in Malaysia towards the betterment of education in the country.

    He said it was for this reason that the government supported and gave assistance to the Chinese schools since Independence.

    Najib said that when he was the education minister, he took bold steps to remove the power of the education minister to convert national type schools into national schools and that one of the most positive outcomes of this change was the widening of diversity in the Malaysian schooling system.

    “Chinese national-type schools have now attracted almost 56,000 Bumiputera students out of the 612,000 students overall.

    “Today, more Malays speak Mandarin than ever before — part of transforming Malaysia to help give us the vital business edge in years to come, as China consolidates its economic power.

    “My own son is studying Mandarin at Georgetown University (in the United States). Last year, I sent him to Beijing for a month to learn Mandarin. Now, he thanks me for that,” he said at the launch of the ‘1Malaysia Charity Ride for Education’ at the Penang Straits Quay in Tanjong Tokong, here.

    Also present were Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

    Najib said his late father and second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein took an important step to build a good relationship with China and he (Najib himself) was continuing that effort.

    “We need more Malaysians, from every background and heritage, to win business for us with China and, therefore, we need more Mandarin speakers to help us to explore new frontiers in our dealings with China as a global economic superpower,” he said.

    He said the Malaysian Chinese community was well known for the values of industriousness, hard work and thriftiness ‘and today we need to add selflessness and dedication to learning’.

    “I am reminded of the Chinese saying, ‘no matter how poor we are, we will not compromise on education,” he said.

    Najib said the government would continue to focus on education as part of the programme to develop the country.

    He said the future of Malaysia depended on all Malaysians, especially youngsters, and that a better future could be built for the country and all Malaysians through education.

    “Through education, we can overcome all obstacles. We can have greater prosperity for all Malaysians. Education is the medium that we should look at together.

    “Whether it is a Chinese school or an Indian school or an Islamic religious school, we need to help our children to succeed. I believe in education as an asset and investment,” he said.

    The prime minister said that apart from China, Malaysia also needed to build a good relationship with India and the Middle Eastern and Western countries, and this he added could be done through education. — Bernama

    Chinese praised for emphasis on education – Taib
    Borneo Post, Tuesday, August 14, 2001

    KUCHING – The Chinese community today won praise from the Chief Minister for their resolve in wanting to educate their young.

    He saluted them for going to great lengths to put up schools wherever they went so that their children could have a better future.

    “Because of the strong Chinese emphasis on education, the community would struggle to build schools wherever they go to give opportunities to their children to acquire education,” said Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud.

    He was reacting to the community’s effort to raise RM1 million to build the recently completed SJK Chung Hua Asajaya.

    Taib who officially opened the school today said former students had chipped in generously, adding it was no mean feat in a small place like Asajaya.

    Towards this end the Chief Minister urged former students of schools to contribute to their alma mater for the benefit of the younger generation.

    Taib who also laid the foundation stone for a multi-purpose centre in Asajaya said every effort should be made at preparing schoolchildren for the borderless economy, both in terms of technology and language skills.

    In rural areas, for instance, it is becoming increasingly imperative for students to acquire information and communication technology skills so that they can work as fast and as efficient as their counterparts in Kuching, he said.

    “As the world changes, their proficiency in several languages and adeptness in ICT would be able to assist them to easily establish trade with many countries, particularly China which will become the greatest economic giant in Asia,” he added.

    In the same vein the Chief Minister said the development of new products in the State, like computer chips, would require traders with better qualifications and higher competency levels.

    To face these challenges, people in the State, regardless whether they are Bumiputras or non- Bumiputras, have to cooperate and work together as ‘anak Sarawak’ to achieve success, he said.

    At the function Taib also presented a State government donation of RM50,000 for the school to upgrade its computer facilities.

    Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr George Chan called on the Chinese community in Asajaya to continue supporting the present leadership in the State.

    More Bumiputera in Chinese primary schools
    by Raymond Tan, Borneo Post, August 3, 2012, Friday

    SIBU: Chinese primary schools in inner Kanowit are dominated by Bumiputera students as Chinese families are moving out of the interior.

    In a tour to two of the schools last week, members of Sibu and Kapit Chinese Primary Independent School Management Board led by chairman Hu Siew Liong found out that although the schools had less Chinese students, more longhouse families were sending their children there as they see that their children will have a brighter future if they study in Chinese schools.

    Hii, who has returned to compile a report on the educational and development tour, said in a press conference yesterday they would not neglect the future and hope of these rural students, regardless of their races.

    “Development will continue, and in our tour, we were monitoring the progress of the rebuilding project of SJK Ming Wok in Ngemah; in our visit to Lian Hua School at another part of inner Kanowit, we saw the need for road and jetty upgrading; thus we are appealing to the government for help.”

    He said, generally, student population in these schools was small after the Chinese families moved out.

    He said in Ming Wok, there were only 27 students, out of which 23 were Bumiputeras and only four were Chinese.

    In Lian Hua School, he said there were 33, of which 28 were Bumiputras.

    “Before the Emergency Period, the Chinese population in the villages around Lian Hua School was flourishing. But families started migrating in the 1970s when security was threatened; today, there are only four Chinese families left there.”

    Despite the small student population, Hu said infrastructure development would be continued for the sake of the rural children.

    He said a new school block and a teachers’ hostel was currently being built in Ming Wok, costing RM210,000.

    However, as the contractor failed to do his task satisfactorily, he said they had decided to terminate his contract and they would be calling for another tender to complete the project, which he believed would resume within two months and be completed by year-end.

    In Lian Hua School, Hu said his association as an umbrella body for all the Chinese primary schools in Kapit and Sibu was appealing to the government to improve the road leading to the school and upgrade the jetty there.

    “From the main road, teachers and students have to travel on the mud road for 5 km to reach the school. The ride is bumpy and the road condition is poor.”

    He said he was concerned because a pregnant teacher from the school travelled on the road daily.

    As most Bumiputera students crossed the river by sampans to reach the school, he appealed that the jetty be upgraded to prevent accidents.

    “We are calling on the government to upgrade both this road and the jetty. We hope the people’s representatives in the area will help.”

    Meanwhile, in another school – SJK(C) Yuk Ming – a new block was being built by the board, which he said they were monitoring and would visit soon.

    “The earth-breaking ceremony was launched by Kanowit MP Datuk Aaron Dagang last month. We thank Aaron for a fund of RM30,000 from the government.”

    He said the board had also received RM50,000 from the Education Department and RM160,000 from his association for the double-storey block estimated to cost RM400,000.

    He said the fund from his association was part of the RM10 million allocated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during the Sibu by-election two years ago.

    Towards The 21st Century: Reformation And Challenges For Muslims In The Region
    Speech by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammed


    …19. A hadith says: “Seek knowledge even as far as China.” It was pointed out by detractors that this was just a saying of the Prophet and it was not a command from God. When they disagreed with a particular hadith, they were quick to discredit it and refused to acknowledge it as a source of Islamic teaching. But if they subscribed to it, then they would not cease to highlight it repeatedly, even if it’s authenticity is doubted. Surely seeking knowledge in China does not mean Islamic knowledge. During the Prophet’s period, China was also known to have deep knowledge in such fields as medicine, literature and paper, explosives and many others.

    …20. Since Muslims then followed the teachings of the hadith, they were clever and efficient, able to comprehend all of God’s gifts for the benefit of themselves and Islam. That was why they could build a credible and big empire and filled it with institutions of knowledge, industries, business and commerce, modernise agriculture through new engineering techniques and many others.

    …21. Unfortunately, some personalities who disputed and questioned the Islam practised in the progressive years emerged. They began rejecting all the knowledge which they said were against Islam and Muslims were prohibited from studying them. Those with especially strong leanings on the fiqh began inventing and spreading their teachings so that Muslims were discouraged from studying those which the former claimed to be un-Islamic. Institutions of higher learning were no longer supplied with books on science and philosophy which did not specialise on Islam. Big libraries ceased to be built and those in existence were no longer equipped with books on areas of studies pioneered by other communities and those pioneered by Islamic philosophers in these fields. Many of these books were destroyed by this anti-knowledge group, especially those considered un-Islamic.

    Comment by Teddy Gumbang — September 11, 2012 @ 7:08 PM | Reply

  2. The whole team is just look into how to graps more $ from the new system by creating more contract or more business for their own cronies. They not even look into how to improve the education system. This is UMNO and BN practise for past 55 years !!!

    Comment by Mike- Johor — September 11, 2012 @ 6:49 PM | Reply

  3. I doubt …. and I doubt …. and I do not think the “sick” system can be cured so easily … the dream may end up into a nightmare.

    Comment by tigeryk — September 11, 2012 @ 6:01 PM | Reply

  4. Look at tiny Israel population the chosen people…God may not bless Israel with big mega oil reserves but gifted with genius brain great human capital reserves…

    Between Oil Reserves and Human Capital reserves in long run it’s very clear who will survive once the oil dried up….

    Israeli innovators build new ‘Silicon Valley’
    By Katia Dolmadjian, AFP News, Tue, Jun 28, 2011

    With a concentration of start-ups just behind that of Silicon Valley and an impressive pool of engineers, Israel is becoming the new standard for high-tech, with a unique business model.

    Internet-related activities contributed 9 billion euros (12.6 billion dollars) to the Israeli economy in 2009, representing 6.5 percent of GDP, according to a report from management consultancy McKinsey.

    The sector is worth more than the construction industry (5.4 percent of GDP) and almost as much as health (6.8 percent).

    The web economy has also created a total of 120,000 jobs, accounting for 4 percent of the country’s workforce, McKinsey says.

    From Microsoft to Intel through Google, IBM and Philips, almost all the giants of the Internet and technology have set up important research and development centres in Israel, spawning products and systems used worldwide.

    “Israel is the country with the most engineers in its population, and it ranks second behind the United States in the number of companies listed on Nasdaq,” said David Kadouch, product manager at Google Israel, which opened its R&D operation in 2007 and currently has 200 employees.

    “It’s really a second Silicon Valley. Besides the multinationals, all the major American investment funds are present,” he said.

    “The scientific community is very active, there is plenty of manpower and especially an entrepreneurial culture. There is a huge ecosystem around high tech, and what is fundamental is that here we think global.”

    Some 500 start-ups are created every year in the country of 7.7 million people, which grew by 4.7 percent last year according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development against an average of 2.8 for its member countries.

    The OECD forecast for Israel in 2011 is 5.4 percent.

    Israel’s higher education institutions, particularly the Technion, the prestigious technological university in the northern city of Haifa, must take a large share of the credit for this creativity.

    “All the groups have set up subsidiaries here because of the proximity of the talents of the Technion university where there are (people with) excellent CVs,” said Yoel Maarek, president of Yahoo Research Israel, which employs about 50 people.

    “I myself have studied at the school of bridge engineering in France but when IBM hired me it was thanks to my degree from the Technion,” he said.

    The huge Technion campus comprising 19 schools for 12,000 students trained 70 percent of the country’s current engineers and 80 percent of the executives of Israeli companies listed on Nasdaq.

    “Many students… are already snapped up by large foreign companies,” said Ilan Marek, professor of chemistry at the Technion.

    “In the early 2000s, we broke down the barriers between the four classical branches of science, allowing the students to move between fields and have a more global vision,” he said.

    “The key to the development of a country is to train leaders in science.”

    Saul Singer, co-author with Dan Senor of the book “Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle,” believes the often maverick nature of many Israelis also plays a role.

    “The lack of respect for authority is typical in Israel, it’s a cultural thing, in line with start-up creating. There is no authority, it is very informal. There are two big factors, drive and determination, and taking risks. We have a very exciting business model,” he said.

    “In Israel there is a constant struggle with all kinds of adversity,” he added. “These adversities are a source of creation and energy. Israel is a country with a purpose, a mission.”

    Petronas told US envoys Malaysia oil drying up
    Malaysian Insider June 20, 2011

    The Petronas executive said the oil firm was forced to comply with the government’s policies.

    KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — Malaysia’s limited oil and gas reserves are running dry, spelling trouble for the government as it relies on national oil company Petronas for nearly half its revenue, said a leaked United States diplomatic cable.

    According to the cable released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks, a Petronas board member admitted to US embassy officers here in 2008 that the company “feels tremendous pressure to grow its business in order to maintain Malaysia’s political status quo.”

    “Petronas wants to stay insulated from politics but must comply with GOM (the government of Malaysia) policy,” Datuk Mohd Azhar Osman Khairuddin, now a vice president at Petronas, was quoted as saying in the cable published in full by the Malaysia Today news portal today.

    “Azhar told us that Malaysian O&G reserves are not large and are running out soon. (Note: Conoco Philips Malaysia confirmed that without new discoveries, Malaysian oil production will decline at approximately 10 per cent per year, from 550,000 bpd in 2008 to roughly 490,000 bpd in 2009 and 450,000 bpd in 2010.)

    “Azhar noted that revenues from Petronas accounted for 45 per cent of the GOM budget last year and stated that the GOM is over-reliant on Petronas to fund its operations,” said the document classified by the embassy’s then economic counsellor, Matt Matthews.

    Petronas made a pre-tax profit of RM90.5 billion for the year ending March 31, 2011. On top of taxes, Petronas has been paying the government a dividend of RM30 billion since 2009, up from RM24 billion in 2008, RM20 billion in 2007, RM13 billion in 2006 and just RM9.1 billion in 2005.

    However, a new proposal expected to take effect in 2013 will see dividends paid by the state-owned oil company fixed at 30 per cent of net profit.

    According to the cable, Azhar said that Petronas wanted to invest in productive O&G assets to “promote future profitability rather than be spent now on domestic programmes for political gain.”

    “He described Petronas as a stabilising force in Malaysia and in Asean regionally and his desire that the USG recognise the important role Petronas plays in maintaining political stability in the region,” the report added.

    According to the leaked document, embassy officials had met Malaysian oil and gas firms due to concerns over business activities in Iran but Petronas said it had no active investments in the Islamic republic.

    However, Petronas said in April last year that it sold spot volumes of gasoline from third party traders and suppliers to customers in Iran.

    The cable also quoted a foreign ministry official as saying that “Malaysian firms go to Iran with suitcases of money to purchase oil and gas concessions from the Iranians. He said that they bring too much cash to count the money, so they weigh it to determine if the amount is correct.”

    It named principal assistant secretary and America desk officer Muhammad Radzi Jamaludin as saying that two private companies, SKS Ventures and Amona, claimed they had no financing sources for their projects in Iran.

    However, Radzi “did not offer why Malaysian firms would purchase such concessions for projects they were unable to finance.”

    Comment by Teddy Gumbang — September 11, 2012 @ 4:44 PM | Reply

  5. Look East Policy by Dr Mamak…learn from Korea….still relevant kah….???

    Lessons from S. Korea on transforming from developing economy into high income economy
    The Star, Monday November 15, 2010

    KAREN Lee is a part-time English translater with the South Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) in Seoul. Although still a university student, she handles herself with maturity and professionalism and is among a rising number of South Koreans proficient in English.

    Kim Min Hae is a Japanese translater, with Kotra Seoul as well. She also speaks English and like many other South Koreans striving to improve and upgrade themselves, hopes to do her MBA soon.

    To Hank Ahn, the commissioner of Invest Korea, a Kotra unit, people like Karen and Kim are the embodiment of the qualities that built the South Korean economic miracle – hardwork and competition, underpinned by a strong education system.

    He noted that South Korea, which has limited natural resources,had to rely on its population to provide its most valuable resource – skilled workforce, especially in the areas of science and technology.

    “The most important factor for South Korea’s fast growth is our investment in human beings. In other words, education,” he told StarBiz recently on the sidelines of the Foreign Investment Week organised by Kotra.

    This people-based economic power has driven South Korea to become the 15th largest economy in the world, with a per capita income of over U$17,000 in 2009. Malaysia’s average per capita income is about US$7,000.

    South Korea’s foreign exchange reserves totalled US$289.8bil as of September this year, the fifth largest in the world.

    Its total foreign direct investments from 1998 to 2008 totalled US$124bil, five times as much of that from 1962 to 1997, according to South Korean government data.

    Nearly half of the global Fortune 500 companies have established a presence in South Korea.

    Ahn reckons that many resource-rich countries in Africa as well as Latin and South America have not made “a big progress” in their economic development due to their failure to invest in education in a big way for their people.

    “The important thing is that the majority of people should be well educated and trained,” he says, noting that 56% of young Koreans have a university degree. “It’s a big number.”

    According to Kotra data, the national illiteracy rate in South Korea for people between the ages of 20 and 40 is zero, while the overall literacy rate is 98.7%.

    Hahn notes that the average South Korean spends “big money” on their kids’ education, citing news reports that they fork out an average US$1,000 per month for after-class tuition. Such emphasis on education has driven South Korean parents to become “goose fathers and goose mothers.”

    “We call them goose fathers and goose mothers because they live apart. The father maybe here in South Korea while the mother is in the United States,” he says, explaining that South Korean parents live apart as a consequence of trying to be cost effective in their children’s education. As far as education is concerned, South Koreans are willing to do whatever (it takes).”

    Turning points

    South Koreans point to a few landmark events that have helped transform their economy from a developing economy into an advanced, high income economy.

    The first foundation was laid when the country decided to go into heavy industry sometime in the mid seventies.

    “We could not make our economy into an advanced economy without transforming from light to heavy industry,” says Ahn.

    The industrialisation programme gave birth to the country’s automotive, engineering, chemicals and electronics sectors, paving the way for South Korea to break into the global market with now established brand names such as Hyundai and Samsung.

    According to Kwon Pyung-Oh, the director-general for free economic zones under the Knowledge Economy Ministry, the seeds for South Korea’s transformation into a developed economy were planted in the late eighties.

    For Kwon, the spark that lit the transformation into an advanced economy came from the torch of the Olympic flame itself, specifically the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

    “The 1988 Olympics gave full confidence to the South Korean people, which would lead to South Korea’s membership in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) in 1996,” he says.

    The OECD is an international economic organisation of 33 countries founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. According to Wikipedia, the group defines itself as a forum of countries committed to democracy and the market economy.

    Most OECD members are high income economies with a high human development index and are regarded as developed countries.

    Even so, South Koreans would regard the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis as the last great turning point before their economy became truly advanced and globally competitive.

    “Between 2001 and 2002, after (recovering) from the Asian Financial Crisis, I think that was the point when major economies would look at South Korea as an advanced economy,” Kwon said, adding that South Korea’s decision to implement tough International Monetary Fund (IMF) reforms and liberalisation of its economic sectors during the crisis years had turned out well for the country.

    Positioning for the future

    But even with advanced economy status, South Korea did not rest on its laurels. Its economy and people continued to evolve, getting ready for a new world economic order led by China.

    Ahn of Invest Korea noted that western scholars had already postulated a “global Asian era.”

    “The global Asian era has come already. To take advantage of (this new era), we have to sometimes cooperate with China, sometimes compete against China,” he said.

    The mechanism put in place by South Korea to both compete and cooperate with China, and to bring the country further up the economic value chain, was its six free economic zones (FEZs), led by the US$230bil Incheon FEZ, launched in 2003 and the first of the South Korean FEZs.

    “China has become the world’s factory. South Korean manufacturing will eventually become not cost effective compared with the Chinese. Japan has technology, which they can sustain, so where is South Korea?” Heekyung Jo Min, the director-general of the business opportunity bureau at Incheon FEZ told StarBiz when asked on what went behind the setting up of the Korean FEZs.

    “So we need to transform from simple manufacturing to a more technology and knowledged based industry to compete,” she said, adding that healthcare was one such industry targeted by the Incheon FEZ.

    Healthcare, together with education, remain the two major sectors untouched by IMF reforms in South Korea more than ten years ago.

    But in 2003, the South Korean government decided to allow foreign access to these two sectors, but limited only to the FEZs.

    Since then, the Incheon FEZ has attracted three foreign education providers to set up operations – Chadwick International, State University of New York at Stony Brook and Utah State University. It is also hoping to get John Hopkins Medical School to help run an international hospital.

    At the individual level, more South Koreans are adjusting to China’s rising global influence by learning Mandarin, apart from English.

    And what is a favourite destination for South Koreans to learn both Mandarin and English at the same time, and at a reasonable cost? According to some South Korean officials – Malaysia. And what’s the lesson to be learnt here?

    Korea’s college graduation rate highest in OECD
    by Bae Hyun-jung, The Korea Herald, 7 Sep 2010

    Korea’s university and graduate school completion rate tops among member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to the organization’s annual educational index.

    Over 98 percent of Koreans aged from 25 to 34 graduated from junior college, university or graduate school, showed the OECD’s 2010 Education at a Glance report released Tuesday.

    Korea was thus ranked first in the category among 39 respondent countries — 32 OECD member states and seven non-member states.

    The contents of the report were classified into four chapters — the achievement of educational institutions, the resources invested on education, the access to educational opportunities, and the education environment.

    The general graduation rate for high school and for university was also high — 79 percent and 37 percent respectively, both surpassing the OECD average of 71 percent and 28 percent, said officials.

    The Koreans’ rate of entrance to university or graduate school was 71 percent, greatly exceeding the OECD average of 56 percent.

    The junior college entrance rate, too, was high — 38 percent, following Chile (48 percent) and New Zealand (46 percent).

    The percentage of those who go for their doctoral studies, however, was 2.2 percent, slightly lower than the average of 2.4 percent.

    The number of adults (aged 25-64) who participate in lifelong study was relatively low — 29 percent for men and 31 percent for women, as opposed to the OECD average of 41 percent for both genders.

    The public education fee level in comparison to the country’s GDP was also high in Korea — 7 percent, whereas the OECD average figure was 5.7 percent.

    The proportion of foreign national students was a mere 1.3 percent, way lower than the average of 8.5 percent, but was nevertheless a 0.3 percent increase from the previous year’s figure, said officials.

    Also, in terms of the increase rate of foreign students in 2000-2008, Korea was ranked first.

    The educational infrastructure and environment here have advanced over the years.

    Although the number of students allocated to each teacher was higher than the OECD average, the figure in all schools, excluding high schools, has decreased from that of the previous year, said officials.

    Comment by Teddy Gumbang — September 11, 2012 @ 4:40 PM | Reply

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