From Underdog To World Famous in 11 Years
Singapore was not known for its education system in 1980.
Its students were average. No articles were being written in Forbes Magazine about their math prowess or the islands' exceptional human talent bank.
Singapore's students were not on anyone's radar.
In 1980 the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore was created.
Part of their mandate was to develop national textbooks. For years students in Singapore had been using textbooks from other countries. The results had not been excellent.
By 1984 Singapore's first national math textbooks were published.
They focused on problem-solving and going deep into a few vital topics. Educators continued to research and refine the textbooks.
Just over 10 years later, in 1995, Singapore's students were ranked globally as number 1 in mathematics by TIMSS.
An American research project called the Trends In International Mathematics and Science Survey (TIMSS) designed to see how the USA's education system was doing compared to other countries around the world, showed that without a doubt, Singapore's radical changes had paid huge dividends.
In a 2009 speech at the Human Capital Summit, Singapore's Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, said this:
"For a small country like Singapore, acquiring and nurturing human talent is a matter of survival. Without much of anything else, we rely on human ingenuity and effort to build our economy and society."
Unlike resource-rich Canada, Singapore's economy requires every student and every citizen to put in their best effort. By doing so, they have built a strong economy and have developed an incredible human talent bank.
There is much to be learned from Singapore as a country as well as their education system.
In 2007, Singapore Math became available to students in North America.
It is a program of math education designed using the same methodology as what is used in Singapore's education system - the same system that has teenagers testing at a level 3 years ahead of their American peers.
The Westside Schools is proud to use Singapore Math in the Foundation Years and Middle Years Program.