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Traditional Education in Asia and Modern

South Asia, East Asia, Modernization, Bibliography

The history of education in Asia reflected and extended the influence and teachings of three major philosophical, religious traditions: Hinduism (including Buddhism), Islam, and Confucianism (including Neo-Confucianism). Over time, these traditions interacted with one another, although the interaction was not entirely mutual, nor did it blunt the cultural distinctions of the various regions of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. Indeed, while Buddhism exerted its widespread influence across East Asia from the third century B.C.E on, it never replaced the primacy of Confucianism. Similarly, although Islam infiltrated India from the eighth century C.E. on, the foundation of Hindu cultural traditions remained unshaken.

A middle region, Southeast Asia, was influenced by Buddhism and Confucianism, resulting in a unique blended educational experience. From the eighteenth century on, as Western culture came into the region, Asia's educational practices in general underwent a sea change that resulted in a previously unknown level of uniformity. Regional diversity, however, remains visible, reflecting the differences in political settings, cultural values, and economic development, making a comprehensive overview of education in Asia impossible. For this reason, the following discussion will deal primarily with educational practices in South and East Asia with a focus on exploring the ideological dynamics embedded within those regions and the impact of historical change from without.

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