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Which region in the world has the smartest kids? According to the OECD, it’s East Asia

Harry A. Patrinos's picture
Also available in: 中文
Students from Tran Dai Nghia High School near Can Tho, Vietnam (Photo: D7K_4030 by makzhou, used under CC BY-NC 4.0 / cropped from original)


With the release last month of the latest PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) results by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), it is apparent that many of the highest achieving students in the world are in East Asia.
 
Just as in the recently released TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) results, Singapore leads the world in every subject in PISA, outperforming other economies and countries by a significant margin. Students in Singapore perform at a level that is up to two years ahead of their regional and OECD counterparts in science, mathematics and reading. Moreover, almost all Singaporean students have reached a basic level of proficiency or higher. And they just keep getting better, having significantly reduced performance below basic proficiency.
 
Japan also outperforms most participating economies in science, mathematics and reading. However, its score in reading has declined since the last round. Still, as in Singapore, 90% of students have reached a basic level of proficiency or above.

The FinTech revolution: A perspective from Asia

José de Luna-Martínez's picture



Will cash and checks still exist 15 or 20 years from now given the increasing digitization of money? Is the smartphone our new bank? Will many people working in the financial sector industry lose their jobs due to growing use of technology, robots, algorithms, and online banking? Is financial technology (FinTech) the solution to providing financial services to the 2 billion people in the planet that still lack access to finance? Will digital currencies and other innovative FinTech products pose systemic risks in the future? What is the best approach to regulate FinTech companies?

Việt Nam có thể học hỏi được gì từ Singapore về quản lý rủi ro ngập lụt

Linh X. Le's picture
 Toàn cảnh công viên Bishan-Ang Mo Kio, Singapore. Ảnh: Stefan/Flickr

Đối với người dân Việt Nam, đất nước Singapore không chỉ là một "con rồng Châu Á" mà còn rất gần gũi nhờ mối quan hệ thân mật giữa lãnh đạo nước nhà với Cựu Thủ tướng Lý Quang Diệu, người đứng đằng sau tất cả những thành công của Singapore ngày nay. Là biểu tượng của sự hiện đại và văn minh, đặc biệt với điều kiện tài nguyên thiên nhiên hạn chế, Singapore là mô hình đáng để Việt Nam học tập trên con đường phát triển theo hướng cạnh tranh, bền vững và văn minh.
 

中国城市可以从新加坡借鉴哪些经验?

Wanli Fang's picture
Also available in: English
新加坡Marina海湾的再开发项目将河道的一部分改造成水库。摄影: 10 FACE/Shutterstock

上周,我有幸参加了新加坡城市周活动。一同参加本次活动的还有世行驻华代表处的其他同事以及来自中国政府和参与世行项目的城市代表。对我们参会者而言,此行可以说是开阔眼界,使我们更清晰地了解到综合性的城市规划方法对构建可持续城市所起的重要作用,并为我们提供了诸多可推广的经验。这些经验稍加调整后即可为实现不同城市自身发展的目标提供实用的解决方案。以下几点经验供大家参考:
 
发展战略以人为本
 
要做到这一点,需要城市规划人员时刻关注市民对城市空间的日常体验,并通过公众参与请市民在决策过程发挥作用。譬如,在许多城市,公共交通被视为一种低端且不具备吸引力的出行方式,即便在交通拥堵严重情况下,公交载客量增长也停滞不前。但在新加坡,2014年公共交通在各种出行方式中的占比高达三分之二。在该市,乘坐地铁出行不仅舒适而且高效,因为各种公交工具和线路之间的换乘很方便,有明确的标识指引系统,换乘站点之间建有配备空调的连接走廊,并且为老年乘客和行动不便的乘客配置了考虑周到的空间设计和服务设施。此外,地铁站与主要零售和商业设施以及其它公共服务设施融合在一起,从而大大减少了最后一公里的连接问题。
 

What can Chinese cities learn from Singapore?

Wanli Fang's picture
Also available in: 中文
One of Singapore’s latest redevelopment projects included the construction of a freshwater reservoir. Photo: 10 FACE/Shutterstock

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Singapore Urban Week along with other colleagues from the World Bank Beijing office, as well as delegates from China’s national government and participating cities. For all of us, this trip to Singapore was an eye-opening experience that highlighted the essential role of integrated urban planning in building sustainable cities, and provided practical solutions that can be readily adapted to help achieve each city’s own development vision. A couple of key lessons learned:

Putting people at the center of development strategies

This is only possible when planners always keep in mind people’s daily experience of urban space and invite them as part of decision-making process through citizen engagement.

For instance, in many cities, public transit has been perceived as a low-end, unattractive option of travel, causing ridership to stagnate despite severe traffic congestion. But in Singapore, public transit accounts for 2/3 of the total travel modal share in 2014. Moving around the city by metro is comfortable and efficient because transfers between different modes and lines are easy, with clear signage of directions, air-conditioned connecting corridors, and considerate spatial designs and facilities for the elderly and physically-challenged users. In addition, metro stations are co-located with major retail and commercial activities and other urban amenities, significantly reducing last-mile connectivity issues.

How to scale up financial inclusion in ASEAN countries

José de Luna-Martínez's picture
MYR busy market

Globally, around 2 billion people do not use formal financial services. In Southeast Asia, there are 264 million adults who are still “unbanked”; many of them save their money under the mattress and borrow from so-called “loan sharks”, paying exorbitant interest rates on a daily or weekly basis. Recognizing the importance of financial inclusion for economic development, the leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have made this one of their top priorities for the next five years.
 
Last week, the World Bank Group presented the latest data on financial inclusion in ASEAN to senior representatives of the ministries of finance and central banks of all 10 ASEAN member countries (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). The session, held in Kuala Lumpur, is one of the joint activities the new World Bank Research and Knowledge Hub and Malaysia is undertaking to support financial inclusion around the world.
 

How can rapidly aging East Asia sustain its economic dynamism?

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Also available in: 中文
Panos Agency


In the last three decades, East Asia has reaped the demographic dividend. An abundant and growing labor force powered almost one-third of the region’s per capita income growth from the 1960s to the 1990s, making it the world’s growth engine.
 
Now, East Asia is facing the challenges posed by another demographic trend: rapid aging. A new World Bank report finds that East Asia and Pacific is aging faster – and on a larger scale – than any other region in history.
 
More than 211 million people ages 65 and over live in East Asia and Pacific, accounting for 36 percent of the global population in that age group. By 2040, East Asia’s older population will more than double, to 479 million, and the working-age population will shrink by 10 percent to 15 percent in countries such as Korea, China, and Thailand.
 
Across the region, as the working-age population declines and the pace of aging accelerates, policy makers are concerned with the potential impact of aging on economic growth and rising demand for public spending on health, pension and long-term care systems.
 
As the region ages rapidly, how do governments, employers and households ensure that hard-working people live healthy and productive lives in old age? How do societies in East Asia and Pacific promote productive aging and become more inclusive?
 

We must prepare now for another major El Niño

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Also available in: 中文
El Niño is back and may be stronger than ever.
 
A wooden boat is seen stranded on the dry cracked riverbed of the Dawuhan Dam during drought season in Madiun, Indonesia's East Java province.  October 28, 2015 © ANTARA FOTO/Reuters/Corbis



The latest cyclical warming of Pacific Ocean waters, first observed centuries ago and formally tracked since 1950, began earlier this year and already has been felt across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Weather experts predict this El Niño will continue into the spring of 2016 and could wreak havoc, because climate change is likely to exacerbate the intensity of storms and flooding in some places and of severe drought and water shortages in others.

El Niño’s impacts are global, with heavy rain and severe flooding expected in South America and scorching weather and drought conditions likely in the Horn of Africa region.

The World Bank's shared history with Singapore

Jordan Z. Schwartz's picture
The 50th birthday of the nation this year has given Singaporeans a chance to look back with pride at the achievements over the course of one generation—as a country, as an economy and as a people.
 
But it is not only Singaporeans who have a vested interest in understanding the causes of their economic growth and vast improvements in quality of life over this past half-century.
 
For those of us in the field of economic development, who advise and invest in emerging markets and developing economies so they might alleviate poverty and grow equitably and sustainably, we view these ingredients of success as critical to our mission.
 
If only we could reverse-engineer the magic elixir, the recipe for success could then be applied to other countries still struggling to improve health outcomes and reduce illiteracy, to offer their populations reliable and affordable basic services, good jobs and better lives.
 

East Asia’s challenge: ensuring that growth helps poor

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Also available in: 中文 | 한국어

Unprecedented economic growth in the last three decades propelled East Asia into an economic powerhouse responsible for a quarter of the world’s economy.

Hundreds of millions of people across the region, including in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, lifted themselves out of extreme poverty and enjoyed greater prosperity, largely because of more labor-intensive and inclusive growth.

The success didn’t come without challenges. As of last year, 100 million people in East Asia still live on $1.25 a day. About 260 million still live on $2 a day or less, and they could fall back into poverty if the global economy takes a turn for the worse or if they face health, food and other shocks at home. Their uncertain future shows the increasing inequality of East Asia’s galloping growth.

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