Over the last few years, major changes have occurred in the world ranking of nations’ education systems. Five countries that claim the strongest education systems have successfully implemented methods that may help countries with high poverty rates and weak education systems.
In descending order, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Finland claimed the top five rankings for strongest education systems in 2015. Four of the top five are Asian countries or territories.
According to MBC Times, these countries outperform others because they value engagement and accountability culturally and their education systems emphasize effort over “inherent smartness.”
Each of the top five initiated unique tactics that have increased the quality and accessibility of education:
- South Korea
South Korea emerged as the number one ranked education system in 2015. With a yearly budget of just over $11 billion, South Korea spends more money on education than many countries.
Children attend school seven days a week and are expected to work very hard from a young age. As a result, South Korea has made impressive strides in literacy rates. According to Fair Reporters, nearly 100% of the population — 99.2% of males and 96.6% of females — is literate.
Japan experienced great success in recent years by incorporating technology into its education system, providing its students with tremendous resources. In addition to demanding hard work from students, Japanese educators value extracurricular activities highly. According to Fair Reporter, students in Japan are generally expected to participate in extracurricular activities.
Impressively, Singapore ranks third with a school system that the Singaporean government made up from scratch. Singapore’s school system values deeper education through conceptual learning over traditional schooling methods, which often encourage simple memorization and repetition. Singaporean educators focus on training students to be problem solvers and thorough thinkers.
- Hong Kong
With a 94.6% literacy rate, Hong Kong has an education system similar to the United Kingdom’s. The Social Welfare Department oversees education, ensuring that each level of schooling works together to produce a fluid education experience. According to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong has more top-200-rated universities than any other Asian country or territory.
Finland, who lead in the ranking for years, has dropped below Asian countries since 2012 but is still notable for its holistic, free education system. The Finnish education system values education outside of the classroom; school days are kept short and followed by school-sponsored educational activities. Finland’s teachers are some of the finest, most educated in the world.
Although major educational improvements have been made worldwide, many poor countries still have weak education systems that need systematic reform. Education systems like those of South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Finland are guiding the way forward.
Their methods, such as incorporating out-of-classroom education, requiring extracurricular activities, increasing education budgets, valuing conceptual learning, using technology and hiring well-educated teachers, could contribute to educational growth in poor countries worldwide.
– Alex Fidler