Ben­e­fits of overseas ed­u­ca­tion in the age of tech­nol­ogy


The Jakarta Post - Magazine - - Education - Son­dang Grace Si­rait)

With school fees as low as S$3 a month for el­e­men­tary school and S$5 a month for sec­ondary school, state or state-sup­ported schools in Sin­ga­pore have be­come very at­trac­tive for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents. To top it off, the Sin­ga­porean gov­ern­ment has made it eas­ier for for­eign stu­dents to at­tend lo­cal schools, and while ad­mis­sion is sub­ject to va­can­cies, for­eign stu­dents with a de­pen­dent’s pass are not re­quired to ap­ply for a stu­dent’s pass.

Home to some of the best ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, Sin­ga­pore has long pro­vided an at­trac­tive al­ter­na­tive for world-class ed­u­ca­tion at an af­ford­able cost. The fact that the state mostly sup­ports ed­u­ca­tion for el­e­men­tary, sec­ondary and higher-ed­u­ca­tion lev­els makes the is­land-na­tion even more al­lur­ing.

Sin­ga­pore isn’t the only coun­try in the re­gion that con­tin­ues to at­tract for­eign stu­dents. Over in neigh­bor­ing Malaysia, where school fees at na­tional schools were abol­ished in 2011, class­rooms have got­ten big­ger. Cit­ing dis­sat­is­fac­tion over dwin­dling teach­ers’ at­ten­tion, many wealth­ier par­ents have opted to send their chil­dren to pri­vate schools in­stead. But still, the com­par­a­tively low ex­pen­di­ture of study­ing and liv­ing, com­ple­mented with an es­tab­lished ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, makes Malaysia an­other top des­ti­na­tion for study­ing in the re­gion.

Some con­tend that it’s the ca­reer as­pects of for­eign ed­u­ca­tion that of­fers the most prac­ti­cal ben­e­fits, and for that rea­son seek an in­no­va­tive ap­proach to vo­ca­tional and tech­ni­cal ed­u­ca­tion—ex­actly the kind one would find Down Un­der.

Those in the overseas ed­u­ca­tion field would agree that Aus­tralia has a rep­u­ta­tion for adopt­ing new tech­nolo­gies at a faster rate than in most other coun­tries. Aus­tralian fa­cil­i­ties for teach­ing, train­ing and re­search are also deemed world-class in terms of state-of-the-art lab­o­ra­to­ries and class­rooms, out­stand­ing li­braries and mod­ern tech­nol­ogy. That aside, the coun­try also boasts one of the highest rates of in­ter­net ac­cess in the world.

Re­gard­less of the choice of coun­try, near or far, many be­lieve that there is now a change sweep­ing through when it comes to mak­ing the choice for study­ing abroad. As the world moves into the dig­i­tal era, so too meth­ods of learn­ing are chang­ing to en­gage and adopt the lat­est tech­nolo­gies. No longer re­stricted to class­room or face-to-face in­ter­ac­tion, cur­rent meth­ods of distri­bu­tion now in­clude a com­bi­na­tion of vir­tual in­ter­faces and the con­tent grad­u­at­ing from tra­di­tional text-based learn­ing to one that in­cor­po­rates mul­ti­me­dia.

In Sin­ga­pore, the gov­ern­ment has launched an ini­tia­tive to churn out stu­dents with fu­ture-ready com­pe­ten­cies, and by do­ing that, is con­sis­tently tap­ping tech­nol­ogy for cre­ative teach­ing and learn­ing meth­ods.

There, teach­ers can now post class work and home­work as­sign­ments on e-learn­ing por­tals for stu­dents to ac­cess while in school or at home. Stu­dents are also en­cour­aged to use on­line tools to an­a­lyze or en­gage in dis­cus­sions. That’s not all. The gov­ern­ment also wants teach­ers to use tech­nol­ogy to in­crease stu­dents’ en­gage­ment and to help them learn bet­ter.

With that, the idea of high-end dig­i­tal learn­ing con­tin­ues to sink into the minds of par­ents look­ing to send their kids abroad, who by now are look­ing be­yond ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tions, lev­els of ed­u­ca­tion or fi­nan­cial costs to pro­vide the best op­por­tu­ni­ties for their loved ones.

Con­ven­tional wis­dom in the study field abroad sug­gests the longer stu­dents study abroad, the bet­ter the im­pact on their aca­demic and cul­tural devel­op­ment, as well as per­sonal growth ben­e­fits.

“Cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences from liv­ing abroad have wide-reach­ing ben­e­fits on stu­dents’ cre­ativ­ity, in­cludin­gin the fa­cil­i­ta­tion of com­plex cog­ni­tive pro­cesses that pro­mote cre­ative think­ing,” ac­cord­ing to re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Florida, Gainesville, whose work was pub­lished in the jour­nal Ap­plied Cog­ni­tive Psy­chol­ogy.

Given there are so many des­ti­na­tions to choose from, mak­ing the de­ci­sion on where to send chil­dren to study abroad can be quite over­whelm­ing. Some study ex­perts sug­gest start­ing by nar­row­ing down the type of lo­ca­tion that in­ter­ests your child the most be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion. It also helps to have a sup­port sys­tem, which could be in the

form of con­sul­ta­tion with an aca­demic ad­vi­sor who not only as­sists in the plan­ning and ap­pli­ca­tion process but can also en­sure your child is on track to meet the school’s aca­demic ex­pec­ta­tions.

In the end, be­yond fi­nances, study­ing abroad is of­ten a fam­ily de­ci­sion, which is why hav­ing an open con­ver­sa­tion can help both par­ents and the chil­dren. It could also help to en­gage with other fam­i­lies who have sent their chil­dren abroad to learn about their ex­pe­ri­ences. Last but not least, there are end­less re­sources on the in­ter­net, which in­clude some very use­ful fo­rums that could be con­sulted. (

Photos courtesy of Marl­bor­ough Col­lege

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