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nation, sub-country or other political entity invests money and effort in educating
children. One strategy is to focus more money and better teachers on the top
students in hopes they will provide huge paybacks. In the extreme, there is only
universe, so one need only produce one Newton. For many centuries Cambridge
and Oxford, with average enrollments of 12,000 undergraduates each (today),
were expected to produce the bulk of the next generation of English scientists,
doctors, engineers and politicians. As England's population grew toward 60
million a collection of universities provided access to higher education for
increasing numbers of students. This strategy of focusing on the top several
percent has been used for centuries in Europe and is fairly popular all across
Planet Earth. Today, China, with a population of  1.337 billion, graduates SEVEN
MILLION college students each year and produced almost 60,000 PhDs. That
would not count students who study overseas. That number of college graduates
accounts for about 20% percent of that age group. Everyone else (the Remainder of
the Chinese) gets the absolute minimum education.
Today, two issues roiling northern Africa and southwestern Asia are access to
higher education AND jobs for graduates.   
The contrasting strategy is the American approach: try to educate almost everyone
equally as much as possible. In an age where American spending on education -
both for primary and high school as well as college - is changing dramatically, we
assert that there is currently very little margin for error when it comes to selecting
educational policies.
A question from a recent Chinese government civil service exam: given the series
1, 6, 20, 56, 144, the next number is: (A) 256; (B) 312; (C) 352; (D) 384. Clearly,
we would need to be looking for a higher-order polynomial or perhaps some sort of
exponential equation. A more interesting consideration is what the question is
testing. The formula we want is (2n+1)*2^n, and, for n=5, the result is 352. Those
taking the exam in China have to answer about one question per minute. If there is
no penalty for guessing (so only right answers are counted) there still isn't an
obvious way to eliminate any of the four choices. So, unless one has spent time
memorizing lots of integer sequences, this question looks to be a tough one. We'd
be curious how many answered the question at all, and how many were correct. A
problem in statistics is discerning how many answers were just random guesses as
opposed to wrong formula, right formula but calculation error ...  
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Around the office we refer to the Chinese Remainder
Theorem in the context of education as an answer to how a