In 2016, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a chart of numeracy rates across its member states from the highest to lowest. While South Korea topped the list as the state with the highest levels of numeracy with Japan coming in at a close second, the United Kingdom came in last place behind Spain and the United States.
While China was not measured in the OECD study (as Beijing is not part of the OECD), China is known for having one of the best education systems in the world. Another survey from 2016 which did not measure Chian en total but instead focused on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. This survey found that the Hong Kong SAR had the second highest numeracy rates in the world, just behind Singapore.
To better address the problem of staggeringly low numeracy rates, British parents and educators looked to adopt Chinese mathematics textbooks in order to improve the intellectual capabilities of the nation’s children.
After the success of the Chinese publication The Shanghai Maths Project after being published in the UK, a special English language version of the follow-up 5 Minute Math Mastery will now be published by the British company Harper Collins in association with East China Normal University.
The new series will contain 24 distinct books for young children up to grade level six. According to reports on the success of the Shanghai series,
“The books were put on shelves via Amazon UK in August 2017; by the end of 2017, more than 40,000 volumes of the books were sold.”.
While some nationalistic leaders in Europe and North America attempt to blame China for the economic decline of certain western nations, in reality a combination of domestic economic trends, poor policing of corruption and low education standards are largely behind the economic stagnation of many once influential western economies.
As China embraces the revolution in robotics and artificial intelligence to help the market socialist economic system unleash the entrepreneurial capabilities of China’s highly education population to diversify the internal economy and work with international partners to help build a moderately prosperous society, others throughout the world are looking to the successful Chinese model in order to help revive their own economic fortunes.
Education is one of the many areas where the Chinese model can help other nations to elevate the social and material standards of their countries by providing young people with the tools necessary to help shape modern developmental trends while working to promote social harmony through the civilising power of education.
At present, western schools and particularly those in the US and parts of western Europe have become notorious for an atmosphere where education is lagging because of a lack of discipline, the proliferation of drugs and alcohol among the young and a lack of self-respect and respect for others.
In addition to harnessing the books and methods of Chinese educators, it is also important for western societies to help their students to gain a sense of pride in their studies which itself will help people to show a greater respect for their colleagues, peers and future co-workers.
Adopting Chinese textbooks will only help to solve a part of the wider set of holistic problems which are holding back North American and European schools from many of their Asian counterparts. A wholesale revitalised approach to social discipline is simultaneously required in order to instil a more positive mentality among students whose minds are increasingly focused on negative and vulgar stimuli from mass media, obscene websites and a profane drug culture.
Every culture must solve its unique problems by understanding how to address them through an understanding of the particular social characteristics that are at the root of the problems. Beyond this though, it is always helpful to learn from clear examples of objective success and here China along with other Asian nations leads the way in modern education excellence.