Fareed speaks with journalist Amanda Ripley, author of 'The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way,' about what other countries can teach the U.S. about education. Watch the video for the full interview.
America is exceptional in many ways. Sadly, secondary education is not one of them. The most recent rankings for the Program for International Student Assessment has American 15 year-olds ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math, among other developed nations. Countries like Finland and South Korea always rank near the top.
In a 2011 GPS special, we went to those two countries to see what they were doing differently. Investigative journalist Amanda Ripley went one step further. She followed some American kids as they spent a year abroad in high school in those two countries and in Poland. The results are fascinating. The book is called The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way.
Amanda Ripley joins me now. So what did you find about those three countries that struck you? You actually have three models that you say that they represent. What are they?
So, South Korea is the pressure cooker model. The extreme case of what you see all over Asia, where kids are working night and day, literally, under a lot of family pressure, to get very high test scores. Now, South Korea does get those high test scores, but at great cost. So that’s one, the pressure cooker model.
Finland is, in many ways, the opposite extreme of South Korea. Not in all ways, but in some. And Finland is what I call the utopia model – they've really invested in quality over quantity and the kids are, on average, doing less homework than our kids, but still achieving at the very top of the world on tests of critical thinking and math, reading and science, with very little variation from school to school or from socioeconomic status from one to the other.
GPS speaks with International Crisis Group analyst Yanmei Xie about recent tensions in East Asia, China’s air defense identification zone, and what it means for U.S. ties with Beijing.
What exactly is the air defense identification zone that China has announced?
The air defense identification zone, announced last month, covers a set of islands – called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan – whose sovereignty is hotly disputed by the two countries. Beijing has demanded that from now on, aircraft entering the zone have to report their flight plans, maintain communication and show identification, or “China’s armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond.”
What’s behind the move?
Challenged at sea, Beijing could be hoping to assert greater control over the contested islands by unilaterally establishing administrative rights over the airspace above them. It has already been eroding Japan’s administration of the disputed waters by regularly dispatching patrol vessels to the area since the Japanese government purchased three of the islands from a private owner in September 2012.
The move may also have been driven by the People’s Liberation Army’s desire to expand its power projection. The PLA for years has been arguing that Japan’s air defense identification zone unfairly restricted Chinese military aircraft’s movement and advocated for the establishment of one of its own.
China’s sudden declaration, however, is puzzling in light of its foreign policy goals. Just a month ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping in a high-profile speech, stated that “safeguarding peace and stability in the neighboring region is a major goal” of the country’s diplomacy.
Watch Global Lessons on Guns, a Fareed Zakaria GPS primetime special, this Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on CNN
By Frederick P. Rivara, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Frederick P. Rivara is the Seattle Children’s Guild Endowed Chair in Pediatrics and adjunct professor in epidemiology at the University of Washington. The views expressed are his own.
With the anniversary of the Newtown shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School almost upon us, it is worth revisiting a troubling reality noted in a commentary I co-wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association just a week after the tragedy – the 17-year effort to suppress research into guns.
Between 1985 and 1997, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded research examining the public health importance of gun-related injuries and the association between ownership of guns and risk of violent death – homicide and suicide – in the home and in the community. (In the interests of full disclosure, I participated in some of the research funded by the CDC.)
However, in 1996, pro-gun members of Congress essentially eliminated gun research funded by the CDC by inserting the following language into the appropriations for the Center: “[N]one of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”
By Javier Zúñiga, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Javier Zúñiga is a special adviser for Amnesty International. The views expressed are his own.
When Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto came to power a year ago, he was the new face of the old Partido Revolucionario Institucional, the political machinery that dominated the country for more than 70 years. With his carefully built image of a dynamic young professional, Peña Nieto started his term in office by launching multiple reform initiatives, covering numerous aspects of daily life in the country. He claims that his policies will put Mexico on a promising train to modernity and prosperity. But a year on, what has he really achieved?
One of Peña Nieto’s early commitments was to end the cycle of human rights violations and violence that so characterised former President Felipe Calderon’s administration. Sadly, he has not delivered on that promise: On the Peña Nieto train, human rights have so far had to settle for the third-class carriage.
It’s a story that the Mexican people know all too well. Once again, a new government comes to office making expansive pledges to protect human rights. Once again, it refuses to invest the political capital needed to make a real difference. And once again, the key word in the whole story is impunity.
By Bhaskar Chakravorti, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Bhaskar Chakravorti is the senior associate dean of International Business & Finance at The Fletcher School at Tufts University and founding executive director of Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context. He is the author of the book The Slow Pace of Fast Change. The views expressed are his own.
In a flat world, unflattering news moves quickly. The snowballing effects of the Snowden revelations about U.S. National Security Agency surveillance of Internet traffic threaten to break up the World Wide Web. Consider some of the news since the scandal broke: 100,000 Germans have signed up for a service called Email Made in Germany that guarantees that German email is stored in German servers; some Indian government employees have been advised to switch to typewriters (yes, you read that right) for sensitive documents; the Brazilians are reportedly planning a BRICS-only fiber-optic cable from Fortaleza in Brazil to Vladivostok in Russia, with stops along the way in Cape Town, Chennai and Shantou; the usually unflappable Swiss have begun to build a domestic cloud service for fear of American surveillance.
The chorus of voices to de-Americanize the Internet has grown well beyond those of the usual suspects of Russia, China, Iran and United Arab Emirates. Now, with the grumbling of the EU and the BRICS countries, the dissent risks reaching a tipping point.
For more What in the World watch Sundays at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN
By Global Public Square staff
If there's one country in the world that looks like a utopia, its name must be Switzerland. This is a country that has it all. The average income is $82,000 a year – 65 percent more than the average American income. Everyone has great healthcare, childcare, and education. The unemployment rate is 3 percent. There is almost no corruption. According to the OECD, of 34 developed countries surveyed, the Swiss have the greatest degree of trust in their government. And, of course, it is a spectacular country with great traditions of skiing, cheese, chocolate, and wine.
What could possibly go wrong? Well, quite a lot, actually.
The Swiss are furious about income inequality. The story is a familiar one. According to Reuters, in 1984 top earners in Swiss firms made 6 times as much as the bottom earners. Today, they make 43-times what bottom earners make. At some banks and firms, CEOs make 200-times the salary of the lowest-paid employee.
By Georges Pierre Sassine, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Georges Pierre Sassine is a political activist who writes about Lebanon’s public policy issues at www.georgessassine.com. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
Lebanese may have enjoyed celebrating 70 years of independence last week. But they will also have been fully aware of something much less welcome – nine months of political gridlock. Since March, Lebanon has been unable to form a new government, parliamentary elections held in June were postponed for 18 months, and the current caretaker government has no decision-making powers. As the gridlock persists, Lebanon is slowly losing its ability to manage the spillover from Syria’s war – and a cynical Lebanese society is debating three responses to tackle the country’s malaise.
The first response is simply a “wait and see” policy, rooted in a firm belief that geopolitics supersedes domestic politics. To succeed, this approach requires a resolution of the crisis in Syria. The second response is more inward looking, a belief that the gridlock can be overcome through constitutional reforms and a rethink of Lebanon’s political system. The third, more cynical, response calls for the complete partition of the country.
By Fareed Zakaria
So what explains the fevered rhetoric and opposition to the Iran nuclear deal? I think the fear is less of this deal than of what it might bring in its wake. Many imagine that this is the start of a rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran, which would fundamentally change the geopolitical landscape. It could place the U.S. on the side of the Shi'ite powers, Iran and Iraq, in the growing sectarian divide in the region. It could alter the balance of power in the world of oil–Iran's reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia's in the region.
Iran's foes should relax. This is an important agreement, but it is an interim deal on Iran's nuclear program. It is not even a final deal, which will be much harder to achieve. And it is not the dawn of a historic new alliance. Washington remains staunchly opposed to Iran on many issues, from Tehran's antagonism toward Israel to its support for Hizballah to its funding of Iraqi militias. The Islamic Republic, for its part, remains devoted to a certain level of anti-Americanism as a founding principle of its existence. The two countries are still fundamentally at odds.
Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
On GPS this Sunday: A panel of leading historians offer their take on the state of the U.S. economy, second term presidencies and more.
“I think there are no historical analogies more perilous than comparing a Munich or a Nixon in China, from which we have generations of perspective, to a deal that is days old,” says Nancy Gibbs, managing editor of TIME. “You know, this could prove to be a turning point, as obviously the president would like to argue that it's a long overdue reset of a relationship. But it all could also fall apart.”
Then, a referendum to cap CEO pay to 12-times the salary of a firm's lowest-paid employee: What in the world is going on in Switzerland?
And, why kids in South Korea and Finland are getting a better education than their counterparts in the United States.
And the Last Look: the commercial that has millions of Indians and Pakistanis misty-eyed.
By Simon Rushton, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Simon Rushton is an associate Fellow at Chatham House’s Centre on Global Health Security. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
In his comments in the lead up to World AIDS Day this Sunday, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé reiterated the organization’s view that every person counts. “If we are going to keep our pledge of leaving no-one behind we have to make sure HIV services reach everyone in need.” Yet although the updated statistics on HIV and AIDS released this week show remarkable progress in many areas, they also make clear that some are indeed being left behind.
The headline figures are encouraging: a 33 percent decrease in new HIV infections since 2001; a 29 percent decrease in AIDS-related deaths since 2005; a 40-fold increase in access to antiretroviral therapy between 2002 and 2012. But as UNAIDS also admits, global progress in the fight against AIDS is highly uneven. The situation varies widely between countries and regions. In some of the most populous parts of the world – such as the Middle East and East Asia – both new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have actually increased over the past decade.
By Jeffrey W. Hornung, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jeffrey W. Hornung is an associate professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, and an adjunct fellow with the Office of the Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. The views expressed in this article are his alone.
China’s more assertive posture in regional territorial disputes took a new turn at the weekend with its decision to implement an Air Defense Identification Zone. At a time when tensions in the region are already high due to a lingering territorial dispute between China and Japan, China’s action has escalated tensions in the East China Sea. Now, with Beijing apparently demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of diplomacy with its neighbors, the region is forced to confront provocative and potentially destabilizing behavior.
On November 23, China’s defense ministry unilaterally announced the establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. According to the new rules for conduct in this ADIZ, any aircraft flying into China’s ADIZ is required to submit flight plans to Chinese authorities, maintain two-way radio communication, and keep radar transponders turned on. Should a plane refuse to follow these instructions, China’s military will “adopt defensive measures.”
ADIZs are, by themselves, not controversial, acting as early-warning perimeters for self-defense. But while there are no international rules concerning their size or establishment, China’s action is provocative for two reasons. First, it may be attempting to set new rules for aircraft flying above waters considered a state’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Second, it chose to establish an ADIZ that overlaps considerably with those of both Japan and Taiwan as well as a sliver of South Korea’s. Provocatively, included in China’s ADIZ are territorial disputes it maintains with Japan over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu in Chinese) and with South Korea over Ieodo (Suyan Rock in Chinese).
By Elise Young, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Elise Young is Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs at Women Thrive Worldwide, a Washington, DC-based advocacy group dedicated to women’s equality. The views expressed are her own.
It’s a long way from Benin to the family Thanksgiving table where I grew up outside of Philadelphia. But the people of this West African nation are never far from my mind, especially as I gather with my friends and family for Thanksgiving.
The daughter of a minister, I’m thankful for the many blessings in my life and especially for the food that I have to eat on a daily basis.
Not everyone is as lucky as I’ve been. Around the globe, nearly 840 million people are now considered “food insecure.” Almost 60 percent are women and girls – a despite the fact that women farmers actually produce most of the food in developing countries. Hunger is especially pronounced in developing countries like Benin, where one in three households is considered food insecure.