When I first came to Brazil, I quickly became aware of the problem in the educational system here. So, I began to collect statistics and study why the educational levels were so low. During that time, Lula was the president and Brazil was making a serious effort to address its problems in education. The country was allocating an increasing amount of the GDP to improving the schools, opening new colleges and universities across the country and providing programs to finance education to deserving students. As I delved deeper into this study, I began to widen the scope of the research to include other countries. Along with the World Economic Forum’s reports, there are several other watchdog organizations monitoring this area and several other sources reporting on it. So, why is this so important? Well, believe it or not education is an indicator of how economies shape up and a country’s growth factor. Some of those factors include the quality of products manufactured, the amount of a country’s productivity, the future of the countries industries, projected economic growth, competitiveness, and the quality of its leadership.
It is well know that the process of educational transition is the primary means of social mobility for people in all parts of the world. Having a good education is key in life. Not only does it set one up for success but it also determines how one is socially perceived. Yet, it still remains that not every country does it the same way and some countries are better at it than others. While the World Economic Forum (WEF) and its Global Competitiveness Report assesses educational systems for 144 countries, there are many other reputable groups that track these findings. An educational group known as Pearson measures things like grades and attempts to rank countries according to the success of their educational systems. The Social Progress Imperative (SPI) also compiles research on basic educational levels and presents it through the Social Progress Index. This is a comprehensive and rigorous way of measuring that includes a country’s level of access to basic knowledge like adult literacy rate, primary school enrollment, secondary school enrollment, and a woman’s mean years in school. The SPI believes these components determine which countries offer better educational opportunities.
While literacy rates may be one method to show the success of an educational system, they do not predict the value of the system. For example, the United States, long known to have one of the best educational systems in the world has lost its top ranking. Although it has a literacy rate of 99.99%, it’s educational system lacks “real life” educational factors. Here is a short list of some of the best educational systems in the world and why they are so successful.
One of the best educational systems in the world is in Japan. A combination of hard work ethic and technology play a major role in making it one of the best. No other country deploys technology in education to the extent that Japan does and children have resources that most other students do not giving them the ability to get answers to difficult questions. Next is the Singapore educational system which has one of the best primary education systems in the world. What is amazing about Singapore’s system is they shift focus away from traditional school tasks of remote memorization and repetition and instead focus on deeper education that entails conceptual learning and problem-based educational techniques. Also, the educational system in Hong Kong is one of the best. However, it takes a large amount of its structure from the system in the United Kingdom. Still, their literacy rate is 94.6%. Next is the educational system found in Finland. Finland’s system is unique in that their school days are short and they fill the rest of the day with school-sponsored educational activities. They believe that a good portion of learning should occur outside the classroom. In addition, teachers go through some of the best educational training in the world.
In terms of countries that allocate considerable funds to their educational systems, the Barbados government invests heavy in education. The country has a literacy rate of 98% which is one of the highest in the world and the majority of schools on both levels are government owned and operated. Also, Estonia spends about 4% of its GDP on education. What is interesting about Estonia is its educational mission statement. It reads, “to create favorable conditions for the development of personality, family and the Estonian nation; to promote the development of ethnic minorities, economic, political and cultural life in Estonia and the preservation of nature in the global economic and cultural context; to teach the values of citizenship; and to set up the prerequisites for creating a tradition of lifelong learning nation-wide.” Other important mentions are the educational systems of Ireland, Qatar, Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland.
More important, what seems to be one of the strongest factors in determining the success of educational systems is not always the amount of money that is spent on it. It seems that all the best educated countries maintain education as one of the most important cultural parts of life. In other words, education is valued among the country’s government, its parents, teachers, and even its students.
Craw, J. (2014). Statistic of the Month: Measures of Education Quality in the 2013 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Rankings. World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014; Williams-Grut, Oscar. (2016) The Eleven Best School Systems in the World. Business Insider: accessed January 7, 2017, http://www.businessinsider.my/wef-ranking-of-best-school-systems-in-the-world-2016-2016-11/; The Best Education Systems in the World – 2015. accessed January 1, 2017, http://fairreporters.net/world/the-best-education-systems-in-the-world-in-2015/.<