Saturday, March 15, 2008


by Esther Fung | TODAYonline (Singapore)

Wednesday • December 19, 2007 | The tropical "rambutan" may have been replaced by the ubiquitous "apple" — but otherwise, the same mathematics textbooks that Singapore students learn from may soon be used in classrooms across California in the United States, too.

A local education publisher has received approval from California's education board to sell mathematics textbooks in its schools. This makes it the first Asian content provider to reach the Golden State's 3-million-strong student population in Grades 1 to 5.

Textbooks published by Singapore's Education Ministry and Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) have already been circulating in other US schools.

With the Californian authority's approval, however, "all kindergarten and elementary schools will be able to use state funding to purchase these two approved packages for the next five years", said Mr Ling Guan Heng, general manager of Marshall Cavendish.

According to him, each student in California has an annual funding of US$70 ($102) for mathematics textbooks and workbooks, which cost up to US$15 each.

Marshall Cavendish took about three years to adjust the textbooks' content to suit American students and teachers.

In the US edition, "the exotically unknown rambutan, for example, became the simple apple", said Mr Jeffery Thomas, whose company,, is distributing the book in that country.

Beyond "Americanising" (ie: "Americanizing") the content and spelling, the publisher had to meet rigorous standards demanded by the California state board of education.

This included introducing the topic of probability as early as in primary school. In Singapore, the topic is taught from secondary school.

Mathematicians, teachers and school administrators in the US were already aware of Singapore's stellar achievements in international academic tests, said Mr Thomas, who has been distributing Singapore textbooks in the US for 10 years.

The California schools are expected to buy the books in time for the school year beginning in September next year, the publisher said.

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