Competitive the world over, but more in China and India

The world is a lot more competitive now than a few years ago, which is pretty obvious. In a recent speech president Obama asked us to buckle up as the Indians and Chinese are catching
them fast, as Americans have now settled into mediocrity.

Ever since he started his presidential
campaign more than two years ago, Obama has been urging people in the
US to gear up to match the increasing talent of the Chinese and Indian
students. “Their kids watch a lot less TV than our kids do, play a lot
fewer video games, they are in the classroom a lot longer,” Obama said
amidst applause.

There is a piece today in the New York Times about the Chinese preparation for their
gao kao, or the high test.

Some interesting quotes:

Fourteen to 16 hours a day, he studied for the college entrance
examination, which this year will determine the fate of more than 10
million Chinese students. He took one day off every three weeks.

The Chinese test is in some ways like the American SAT, except that it
lasts more than twice as long. The nine-hour test is offered just once
a year and is the sole determinant for admission to virtually all
Chinese colleges and universities. About three in five students make
the cut.

There’s also a piece on the Indian IIT examination process on Rediff.

Some three to four lakh (300,000 to 400,000) people apply to the IITs and only 3,000 get in. What kind of a ridiculous shortage is that?

That
shortage has created a desperate thought that come what may you have to
get into these institutions. So with this process taking roots the
whole process of education got killed.

From Class VIII itself you send your child to a coaching class or to Kota (where coaching classes that help prepare students for competitive examinations for institutions like the IIT are located) where whether the child likes it or not s/he has to get into either engineering or medicine.

I
think an average Indian parent would commit suicide than rather accept
that the child is going to an arts college to learn history. Especially
if a boy says so.

Finally a piece on SAT preparation in Bloomberg.

Robert Schaeffer, public education director for the National
Center for Fair & Open Testing Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
likens the situation to an arms race favoring the rich.

“Parents think, `Our child will be left in the dust unless
they get even better weapons,”’ he says.

Parents the world over are in the race to provide the best and most competitive education for their kids. everywhere.

The difference between the US and India and China is this – In the US, its the rich who know that the competition for your kids are not from other kids in your neighborhood, but from the world over.

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