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A whole new approach: what happens when countries reform education

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By Andrea Buring
A whole new approach: what happens when countries reform education

An overhaul of a national education system is a major and potentially risky undertaking for any country. Introducing fundamental reforms is costly and not always guaranteed to succeed. In this edition of Learning World Maha Barada looks at two examples of sweeping changes to national curricula that authorities believe are on course to yield significant benefits.

Finland: school of skills

For many years Finland has been top-of-the-class in the field of education, with its schools system achieving excellent scores in international rankings. But teaching methods are constantly evolving and the latest approach involves putting emphasis more on skills than the range of subjects. We see how this philosophy of ‘phenomenon-based learning’ is being put into practice at one comprehensive school in Helsinki; how the students use what they learn is considered more valuable than simply acquiring knowledge.

More than memorising

For 60 years Japanese education has been about rote learning and respecting authority. It was an approach that fostered very high academic standards and an ultra-diligent and disciplined workforce.

However, in the age of globalisation it was found wanting, and Japanese authorities linked the country’s economic decline with the failings of its education system (poor foreign language standards and weak communication skills among others). Now the Japanese government wants to change the way children learn, behave and see the world. The aim of the Super Global High School programme is to raise global citizens and free thinkers.

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