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Asian Nations Pledge To Share Education Ideas

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WASHINGTON--The United States last month pledged to work more closely on education issues with 14 other Pacific Rim nations.

The agreement was worked out last month during a meeting here of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group.

Attended by education ministers from all but one member of the economic alliance, the APEC meeting was the first to focus on education.
In addition to the United States, the alliance, which was formed in 1989, includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, which did not attend the education meeting, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, and Thailand.

Future Exchanges Seen

The meeting "is a recognition that education is the key to economic development and international understanding,'' said Diane Ravitch, the U.S. assistant secretary for educational research and improvement. "This is the beginning of what we hope will be many future exchanges.''

Under the agreement, APEC nations will form a permanent "education forum'' involving exchanges of information and experts. They will also conduct studies on standards for curriculum content and on how well students perform against those standards--particularly in mathematics and science.

Comparative analyses of textbooks, curricula, and tests are also planned.

The ministers also agreed to work together on identifying effective instructional practices, on ways to improve teaching, and on methods to ensure that lessons taught in school are relevant to the workplace and to higher education.

The rate of societal and technological change "is so great that suddenly our young people as well as working parents and grandparents need to know so much more that our school systems are out of date,'' said U.S. Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander, who hosted the meeting.

President Bush proposed the APEC meeting on education during a visit to Australia in January.

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