How did Singapore emerge first in mathematics?
Since the 1990s, Singaporean students have been scoring the highest results in international competition in both mathematics and science, outperforming their counterparts from other nations including the United States and the European countries.
Evidence can be derived from the first, second, and third rounds of the Trend in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) conducted in 1995, 1999, and 2003.
The TIMSS, a project run by the Boston-based
International Association for Evaluation of Educational
Achievement, is aimed at assessing
the relative strength and weakness of various countries’ educational
programmes. Released in December
2004, the results of the third and
latest study affirmed the high
quality of mathematics education in
Among the Arab
elements contributing to
These, in turn, are attributed to two principal factors: the government’s continuous and heavy investment in education and the country’s educational system.
Since the 1990s, more than 6 percent of the country’s GDP has been devoted to
The system is referred
to as being one of the best
in the world. It is flexible and caters to every child’s abilities, interest, and aptitude so as to help each develop to his fullest potential. Having studied the system and realized its outcome,
some American scholars now wonder
According to the Singaporean ministry of education’s policy, a variety of strategies for promoting mathematical thinking are emphasized. Pupils are called to concentrate on mathematics, given the fact
that it represents
the cornerstone of every discipline. They are encouraged to appreciate the beauty and power of mathematics, trained to communicate in mathematical language, and taught
to use different problem-solving
strategies. Both teachers and parents have been playing an important role in implementing this and other related
policies. Teachers in
Many educators believe that the
Commenting on the Singapore Primary Math book, an American educator wrote: “From the moment I opened the book, I knew I found something unique and exciting. The presentation of concept was clear and logically tiered as lessons moved from concrete, pictorial to abstract. Each lesson progressed quickly from familiar material into more difficult and unfamiliar territory and challenged the student to think about math in a different way”.
This, of course, differs from educational systems and curriculums used in the Arab world, where ministries of education’s policies are highly influenced by outdated traditions and concepts, curriculums are inflexible, pupils are prevented to think independently, and emphasis is on quantity rather than quality.
According to findings from an educational study recently conducted in
*Academic researcher and lecturer on Asian affairs