Wednesday 03 December 2014


British Council launches e-book to address Grand Challenges in Asia-Pacific Education Featuring contributions by renowned global education experts

The British Council today announced the launch of its e-book Grand Challenges in Asia-Pacific Education, an analysis of some of the most pressing issues that will impact upon and shape regional education provision in the coming years.

Written by a renowned group of global education experts and with a foreword by celebrated movie producer and educationalist Lord (David) Puttnam, the e-book will provide invaluable reading for policy makers, university and business leaders, teachers, academics, and anyone with a vested interest in regional growth and development.

Grand Challenges in Asia-Pacific Educationis available to view, read and download free at

Emanating from the British Council's widely successful Global Education Dialogue (GED) conference series, the compendium of essays – which encompasses issues as diverse as post-massification in China, tertiary sector privatisation in Myanmar, regional R&D growth, the future of the humanities and gender inequality in regional university management – will grow as other internationally renowned GED speakers contribute further chapters to the publication in the coming months and years.

‘This e-book is testament to the British Council’s policy and intellectual capacity across the education sector, as well as its ability to bring together global thought leaders to explore collaborative solutions to the challenges that must be overcome to ensure future stability and prosperity in Asia,’ said Dr Halima Begum, Director of East Asia Education at the British Council.

'The 21st Century is set to be the Asian Century, and it is in the realm of education that its challenges will be met,’ added Lord Puttnam, the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Burma. 'Just how will the continent manage? Can a region still in the throes of development successfully shape a future in which innovation is the only viable path to sustainability?’

‘This collection of essays throws a fascinating light on some of these questions as we approach 2015, a key year for ASEAN integration,’ continued the award-winning movie producer. ‘I’m convinced that the spirit of human imagination has yet to reach its peak, and little doubt that it is from within the great Asian continent that the next tectonic shifts in education will emerge.’

Concluded Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor at leading education services company Pearson, and author of the chapter on leadership and mutual prosperity in Grand Challenges in Asia-Pacific Education: ‘The region’s future and its capacity to become an ocean of innovation are being shaped today, tomorrow and every day in the classrooms, lecture theatres and online platforms of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and Shanghai, Hong Kong and Hanoi. On the success of those endeavours, all our futures depend.’

The digital collection of essays includes the following themes and specialists:

1.    Gender: Bridging the Leadership Divide by Dr Sarah Jane Aiston, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong

With an expertise in gender and higher education, Dr Aiston considers the thorny issue of gender quality in Asia’s higher education system, and examines a disturbing fact: if more women are graduating from universities, and in many case out-performing their male counterparts, why are we seeing so few female leaders in leadership and management roles?

2.    Leadership and Mutual Prosperity by Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor, Pearson

Building on his provocative essay, Oceans of Innovation, Sir Michael shares insights on the relationship between leadership and innovation within Asia’s own traditions.

3.    Avoiding the Middle Income Gap / Education as GDP Driver by Dr Halima Begum

Dr Begum looks at how regional leaders in Asia can develop education policies to shape a more imaginative and prosperous future, one in which economic growth is no longer dependent on old world manufacturing and cheap labour.

4.    Private Sector Investment: Capacity & Quality in Burma Educationby Dr Roger Chao Jr, International Consultant for Higher Education, UNESCO, Myanmar

Hot on the heels of President Obama’s visit to Myanmar, Dr Chao considers the case for private sector investment in the Asian education sector and, specifically, in Myanmar as the country opens itself to the global economy and ASEAN integration approaches.

5.    Wherefore the Humanities? by Professor Simon Haines, Chairman of English, Director, The Research Centre for Human Values, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Professor Haines considers the role of the humanities in Asia; a region in which growth is defined by technological innovation and where increasing numbers of universities are prioritising science as a means to super-charge their ascent in world league tables.

6.    Innovation Hotspotsby Dr Anders Karlsson, Vice President, Global Academic Relations, Elsevier

Dr Karlsson considers how Asian cities can continue to develop their capacity as research hotspots – hubs of innovation – to help drive global growth and argues that, in a networked society, great innovation need not solely emanate from the region’s mega-cities.

7.    Post-massification: Issues, Challenges & the China Responseby Dr Qiang Zha, Faculty of Education, York University, Canada

China’s education system is the largest in the world. The country’s immediate challenge observes Dr Zha is to extend access to higher education and ensure quality standards. What happens in China has implications that extend far beyond its border …

As the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations, the British Council recognises the importance of collaborating globally to meet challenges and develop solutions in the international education sector. The e-book will provide insightful reading for anyone with a vested interest in the future success of the Asian education sector through the years of ASEAN integration, social and economic development, and expanding geopolitical influence. It is available for download for free at  

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. 

We work in more than 100 countries and our 7,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the Arts and delivering education and society programmes. In Hong Kong, we have been doing this since 1948, giving people opportunities to learn, share and connect worldwide.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publicly-funded grant-in-aid provides less than 25 per cent of our turnover, which last year was £781m. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally.