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Nanyang Tech University hosts World Bank conference to raise East Asia education standards

June 21, 2010

About 100 education policy-makers and school administrators from 20 Asia-Pacific countries are in Singapore from today till Wednesday (21-23 June 2010) to attend the East Asia Conference on Benchmarking Education Systems for Results.

The conference aims to take stock of progress in student achievement levels in the region and share the reasons for progress. It will also provide a forum for policy-makers, administrators and experts to build networks, partnerships, and alliances; promote assessment and evaluation of education programmes; and assist countries to define a framework for benchmarking their education systems. Another aim of the event is to raise awareness, at the highest level, about the impact of education system performance on the economy.

The conference is a result of the collaboration between the World Bank, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), the governments of Thailand and Korea, UNESCO, UNICEF, Department for International Development (United Kingdom), READ, Education Programme Development Fund (EPDF) and AusAID (Australia).

Mr Harry Anthony Patrinos, Lead Education Economist at the World Bank in Washington DC said, "The main point of this conference will be to identify the educational policies that foster good performance for the students and for the nation. We also hope that this three-day gathering will lead to the launch of a multi-year programme to document the policies, structures and procedures of education systems across the world. This information should help governments systematically assess the characteristics of high-performing education systems."

Welcoming delegates to the conference today, Prof Euston Quah, Acting Chair at NTU's School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Head of the Division of Economics, said, "Many economists agree that education, at the national level, is crucial to a country's development. However, beyond this broad consensus, there still exists a gap of knowledge regarding what types of education systems are best geared to achieve a nation's aims, and more specifically, which features differentiate well-performing systems from the under-performing ones. In holding this conference, we at NTU hope to contribute to the promotion of education assessment, evaluation, and research, and also to provide a platform for networking and exchange of ideas."

The conference topic "Benchmarking Education Systems for Results" is in line with a key focus area of NTU's Division of Economics, namely, economics of social issues, of which education environment, poverty and wealth are all important research areas. NTU is also home to the National Institute of Education, Singapore's only national teacher training institute, which is recognised today as an integral part of Singapore's education system - one of the most successful in the world.

During the conference, participants will discuss the policies that have contributed to strong education systems and ultimately improved student achievements. They are joined by international experts who will share with them lessons from outside the region.

Policy-makers will also explore how to define a benchmarking framework for their education systems and review measures to facilitate assessment and evaluation of education programmes. The key focus areas include student assessment systems, vocational secondary education tracking, and school-based management. Issues pertaining to public-private partnerships and teacher management will also be discussed.

East Asia has some of the best performers in education - Hong Kong SAR China, Japan, Korea, and Singapore. They are also, not coincidentally, the region's top performing economies. By comparison, middle-income countries in the East Asia region are lagging behind, as seen in the few that participate in international achievement tests. The event will enable East Asian education policy-makers who share common goals to learn from one another, while strengthening their mutual ties.
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For more information about the conference, please visit: http://go.worldbank.org/B2SBNMIJ60

Nanyang Technological University

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