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Tie-up for push to sell S'pore maths textbooks in US

Publisher here partners US counterpart to target 1.9m pupils through state ministries. -ST
Maria Almenoar

Fri, Sep 28, 2007
The Straits Times

A PUBLISHER is making a big push to have more United States pupils use Singapore's mathematics textbooks.
Marshall Cavendish, which publishes the My Pals Are Here! series used in primary schools here, has teamed up with American education group Great Source to sell the books in the United States next year.

Currently, around 250,000 pupils in the US are using an older version of Singapore's maths textbooks, but Great Source now wants to target 1.9 million pupils from kindergarten to Grade 5 with the My Pals series.

Great Source, which is part of the Houghton Mifflin company, a leading education publisher in the US, will be targeting state education ministries, rather than individual schools.

Said Great Source publisher Susan Rogalski: 'Our initial meetings with teachers and people in the industry have been very encouraging, and because of that, we decided on this partnership.'

The Republic's reputation in maths gained a foothold in the US when American educators started taking note of Singapore students' first positions in the subject, in the 1995 and 1999 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

Said Ms Rogalski: 'Teachers have taken notice of Singapore consistently topping the maths rankings, and they are curious as to how they are doing it.'

Singapore students also came out tops in maths in the 2003 TIMSS while the US ranked 12th for its fourth graders (equivalent to Primary 4 pupils) and 15th for its eighth graders (Secondary 2). The study, done once every four years, covers students from more than 40 countries.

Ms Rogalski added that teachers in the US who had seen samples of the My Pals series liked the uncluttered design of the pages and that concepts were taught in greater depth.

'Maths is a very abstract subject for many kids. So we are very consistent in how we teach it - moving from a concrete example, to pictorial form, and then questions to test their understanding,' said Marshall Cavendish publisher Duriya Aziz.

These are some of the same reasons Marshall Cavendish teamed up in 1998 with Inc, an Oregon-based distributor owned by a Singaporean, to take the Singapore Primary Mathematics series to about 500 American schools mainly in the East Coast area.

Ten American universities are also currently showing trainee teachers how to teach that curriculum.

For the My Pals series, Great Source will be placing emphasis on teacher training through workshops and seminars.

The Singapore version will also be tweaked to fit objectives of the US system, which may vary between States.

Characters, places and spelling in the books will also be changed to reflect American culture.

Singapore textbooks have also made their way to Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia. In some of these regions, the Republic's science textbooks are also being used.

The chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, Dr Lily Neo, said that this was a good indication of how highly regarded Singapore's education system is internationally.

'With Singapore's aims to be a global education hub, this is a step in the right direction,' she said.

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