Countries With The Best And Worst Education Systems In The World
When considering which countries have the best and worst education systems, one has to take into account various factors. Overall literacy and graduation rates are important. Also, how many grades are publicly funded and free for students to attend? Countries on top of this list also have high rates of graduates going on to higher degrees. Here is a list of the five countries that rank among the best education systems in the world and the five that are leaving their students far behind.
Countries with the Best Education Systems:
What puts this Scandinavian country on the top of the list of best education systems? Among other things their system does well: free school meals through all grades, well-respected teachers, and a “learn through play” strategy of education. Not only do they have consistently high literacy rates (99% in 2018) and grade completion, but they also have good student/teacher ratios. In 2014, Finland averaged about 13 students per teacher in primary school. Finland is the model for public education.
Japan’s famously rigorous teaching system starts early, and Japanese students spend more time in the classroom than any other country’s students. Japanese students consistently place higher in standardized testing, but that may be a function of the competitive school culture rather than focusing on student needs. High school is not mandatory, but the enrollment rate is 98%. In order to get into the competitive high schools, many Japanese students prepare for the entrance exams in after-school prep. It’s not surprising that Japan has a 99% literacy rate, but did you know they also have a 99.99% school attendance rate? Students do not skip class in this highly competitive culture.
While statistics are virtually unknown for their North Korean counterparts, the South Korean system ranks among the top systems for education. Education is highly emphasized in South Korean culture. Children spend 16 hours a day learning, combining school with after-school prep classes. They also spend almost two months more in school per year than Americans. South Korea has the highest high school graduation rate (97%) and the highest college graduation rate in the world (69%).
This country is often recognized among the best systems in Europe, with 99% literacy. While Denmark tends to rank lower on such metrics as resource availability, it has shown improvement in its learning environment. It has done this by lowering student/teacher ratios and increasing its focus on younger students earlier in their development. Not only is college education free in Denmark, but Denmark grants its college students a $1,000/month stipend for living expenses.
This country rounds out the top five countries with the best education systems. Norway has achieved great strides like Denmark in recent years, taking a page from its neighbors and increasing student to teacher ratios. They boast a ratio as low as one instructor for ten students, and have a stellar literacy rate (99% in 2018). Norway reformed its education system in 2006, making I.T. (information technology) a compulsory subject. Most counties offer students specializing in I.T. in upper secondary school a free laptop.
Countries with the Worst Education Systems:
The sad thing about the list of worst education systems in the world is that it’s primarily due to one thing: money. Many of the poorest countries cannot afford to provide much education to their children beyond a few years of elementary studies. While many of the lowest ranking nations are located in sub-Saharan Africa, the list does not only include countries from that continent. These are five countries with high adult illiteracy, low enrollment, and high dropout levels.
Central African Republic
What is the reason this country could be labeled as having the worst education system? It has just over 50% adult literacy. Its low rating is due to the long years of internal violence and high rate of refugees leaving the country. Schools are notoriously under funded, and teachers often go unpaid. Furthermore, materials such as books and teaching supplies are scarce, and there is very low attendance.
Despite having a primary, secondary, and high school system, Pakistan has one of the lowest per student expenditures. And there are low rates of attendance, particularly among girls, whose parents do not let them get more than a basic elementary education. It’s estimated that up to 4.5 million school-age girls in Pakistan do not attend school. The literacy rate for women in rural areas is shockingly low, a mere 9.5%.
This African country has only four years of free education per student, starting at age seven. After that, children can go further but their parents must foot the bill. It’s estimated that 70% of Angolan boys do not attend school. That number is higher among girls, who are expected to stay at home. Less than one percent of students go far enough to get a university degree.
This is another country whose internal conflicts have taken a toll on their people. School is not funded, and the high poverty levels make it all but impossible for children to attend. Also, the government makes it difficult for ethnic minorities to get an education. Most children drop out of school by the fifth grade.
This West African nation is one of the world’s poorest. Half the population lives below the international poverty level, which is USD $1.25 per day. While education is free, and a basic education is nine years, the cost of supplies such as books makes school out of reach for many children. Fewer than half of the adults in Mali are literate.