Finland, South Korea Top Education Rankings

According to a recent global study, Finland and South Korea sit atop the list for the best countries for educational systems. The U.S. ranked 17th overall out of 50 countries ranked in the report. The goal of the study, which was conducted by the education firm Pearson, was to determine factors that contribute to “successful educational outcomes.”

“More important than money, say most experts, is the level of support for education within the surrounding culture,” the report said.

Among the notable findings from the study:

  • Teachers are crucial to a successful system and need to be treated as valued professionals, “not as technicians in a huge, educational machine.”
  • Culture can be changed. The cultural assumptions and values surrounding an education system do more to support or undermine it than the system can do on its own.
  • Though the top two countries, Finland and South Korea, have many differences, one common trait they both share is an “underlying moral purpose” towards education.
  • Parents are neither impediments to nor saviours of education: Parents want their children to have a good education; pressure from them for change should not be seen as a sign of hostility but as an indication of something possibly amiss in provision. On the other hand, parental input and choice do not constitute a panacea. Education systems should strive to keep parents informed and work with them.
  • Educate for the future, not just the present: Many of today’s job titles, and the skills needed to fill them, simply did not exist 20 years ago. Education systems need to consider what skills today’s students will need in the future and teach accordingly.