It has been 3 months since I started my class at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. I am not only enjoying the classes here, but also observing some distinct differences between the education systems of Sweden and my home country, Bangladesh!
Based on what differences I am experiencing, I am going to write today’s blog about the differences in the education systems of Europe and South Asia – considering Sweden and Bangladesh as their regional standards. I am aware of the fact that the variability of teaching styles between educational institutes and between countries are so vast that all these differences can not be generalized for these two regions. So, please don’t get annoyed if you find something that is not related to your institution and/or country.
Moreover, I think, all these differences are very crude rather than specific. Most importantly the aim of this article is not to compare which one is better or worse!
- Survival for the fittest vs. Innovation: We have a lot of people in South Asian countries which leads to very very tough competitions at every stages. For example, in Bangladesh, every year more than 40,000 students give admission test to get a chance in medical schools and only around 3500 get chance to study in public medical schools. Having good marks and grades is the most important thing in South Asian education system. Whereas here in Europe, the grades and marks are not of that much importance. Critical thinking and reasoning is far more important here.My very good friend Majid from Denmark pointed out that promoting critical thinking and reasoning in the education system is the key thing that helps these countries to remain in top of their game.
“Denmark has a population of 5.5 million and it has 13 noble laureates! If they did not promote critical analysis and innovations from the very beginning of school years, this tremendous achievements wouldn’t be possible at all” he added.
In Asia, it’s more important to get things right and follow the rules. As the competitions for getting jobs are intense, people focus on grades more! It’s more of a “Survival for the fittest” scenario there.
Not memorizing the definition, getting the concept right: In Bangladesh, we have to memorize long definitions and in the exam we have to write them down. This is also true for other South Asian countries. However, here, it’s not important to memorize any definitions. Rather they mainly focus on the concepts of a topic and if you can express that concept correctly in your own language, then you will get full marks in the exams.
- Results are very private thing: I used to have my results in the notice board where I could see the results of all my classmates. Here your results are not published publicly. Your results will be uploaded on the website which only you can access. And people also don’t ask others about their grades or marks. People also don’t talk about their grades with others. So, you will never have a clue how I did on exams in compared to your class!
Less hierarchical system: The hierarchy between the teachers and students are not that strict. So students call their professor by his/her name without any salutation like “Sir/Madam/Professor/Doctor” ! People often have coffee in the breaks together with the teacher and talk about different things, very candidly! This less hierarchical system also allows students to ask any questions and give feedback to their teacher without any hesitations. In South Asian countries, the teachers enjoy much more authoritative power over the students.
More resources available: Okay! this one is obvious! These countries are well-developed and they have more resources for teaching. The classrooms are high-tech and teachers use different resources and methods to teach. By using these resources the classes become more interactive and participatory. These resources also allow people to be more creative and innovative.
Overall speaking, the European countries spend much more resources for their education system in compared to the South Asian countries. Many people would argue that as they have less population and more resources, they can invest in education. However, I think every country should give highest priority in their education system irrespective of their resource settings.