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Indians, Chinese study more than Americans
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February 13, 2008

Do Indians study more than their American counterparts? Many in India would agree going by the hefty syllabus our schools and colleges heap on students, the number of tuitions students attend to fine-tune classroom instruction, and the number of engineers and doctors we churn out every year (three times more engineers than the US). However, it's not just us who think so.

Many in the US are waking up to the fact that they may not in fact be doing as much as they should to prepare their students for the challenges of an increasingly globalised economy, thanks to the documentary -- Two million minutes - A global examination.

The film, produced by American venture capitalist Robert Compton, suggests that Indian and Chinese students are spending a longer hours studying than the average American student.

While top students at Carmel, one of America's leading schools, are taped playing video games and watching Grey's Anatomy while at a group study session, students in India and China are spending more time studying science and maths, says a report by US News on the film.   

It is estimated that a student spends about two million minutes in high school. The film follows six high school students, two each from the US, China and India as they transition from school to college and deal with the pressures of studying, extra-curricular activities and good old teenage fun.

One of the students, 18-year-old Rohit Sridharan in Bangalore, talks about solving maths problems in a matter of seconds as a kid as the next clip shows American students taking a pop quiz, with the use of calculators.

Senior class president Neil Ahrendt, 18, who received a full scholarship to Purdue University, mulls over the fact that 'there's a chance of having to put more effort into schoolwork' as Jin Ruizhang in China competes in international math tournaments and the Indian students spend their weekends at tuitions.

Seventeen-year-old Apoorva Uppala from India dreams of getting into engineering. Hu Xiaoyuan from Shanghai, China talks of the importance of time management as she juggles schoolwork and playing the violin. Brittany Brechbuhl, who is the top three per cent of her graduating class at Carmel, US talks of getting into a sorority, 'partying' and 'doing some crazy stuff' once she gets into college.

According to the official website, "the goal [of the documentary] is to tell the broader story of the universal importance of education today, and address what many are calling a crisis for US schools regarding chronically low scores in math and science indicators."

As the documentary stirs up debate among industry and education experts in the United States regarding the state of their education system and how American students measure up to international standards, India and China it seems are well prepared to face the challenges an increasingly globalised economy is throwing up.

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