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date: 12 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines national systems of higher education in Asia. Asia’s long history, together with its extraordinary diversity, presents dual challenges to the historian. While its past still haunts its present, its many religious influences and ethnicities, as well as an array of more current developments, also present challenges. Two common themes are the attempt to balance local traditions while incorporating knowledge from outside, largely the West, and the differential development of individual Asian higher education systems. The latter is now bringing change to earlier core-periphery distinctions. The global knowledge system is now much more multipolar, with the rise of China as the most obvious example. Nonetheless, while highly developed educational systems such as in Singapore compete vigorously internationally, middle-income states such as Thailand and Malaysia harbor ambitions that are not always fulfilled, and very poor systems still struggle with basic issues of finance, governance, access, and equity.

Keywords: rise of Asia, ethnic diversity, educational achievement, educational inequality, global knowledge systems, multipolar development, ancient roots, colonialism and postcolonialism, intellectual repression, legacies

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