While America has a culture and reputation known worldwide, its school system lags behind some countries where measures of student success are through the roof. On a global scale, literacy, numeracy, and graduation rates in the United States are not bad, but not nearly as impressive as countries in Asia, Western Europe, and Australia. Other success factors, such as student health and happiness, teacher satisfaction, and student post-secondary earning potential, also show more dramatic results abroad. Here are the top regions for child education in the world:
Australia’s extended education system offers 20+ years of schooling, making it all the more impressive that they have a reported 100% enrollment rate all the way through secondary school, and up to 94% of adults engage in some post-secondary education. Low classroom sizes of 14 students to a teacher support better learning outcomes, and the massive landmass and extensive rural education needs are served by enviable incentives. That emphasis on investment in teachers’ experience contributes to better outcomes for students, and the widespread extended education results in higher levels of world-class professionals succeeding on the world stage.
The Nordic countries shine for their excellent childcare and education policies. Finland, in particular, stands out for forward-thinking practices that contribute to child health and happiness while also equipping children for success in life. Formal studies start at age seven, students aren’t graded until the fourth grade, and a quarter of every hour in a five-hour school day is spent in outdoor play. Still, student academic achievement is competitive on the world stage, and the country boasts the lowest gap between top and bottom students. Norway and the Netherlands also shine, and Germany, Ireland, and the UK are quickly catching up.
A few countries in Asia excel at achieving outstanding academic performance. Japan’s education system targets academic excellence with an intensive school structure that encourages long hours of study, extracurricular “cram schools”, and strong performance on standardized testing.
Singapore shares the focus on standardized testing but adds a valuable emphasis on problem-solving and ongoing teacher training. Excellent international schools in Singapore contribute to academic achievement. An Australian education in Singapore combines the strengths of multiple world-class school systems, blending high testing scores with broader markers of success.
South Korea matches Japan’s focus on after hours “cram school” studies to supplement the testing-oriented regular curriculum. The long hours of studies put pressure on pupils and can contribute to stress, but the academic achievements of South Korean students exceed those of others worldwide.
Cultural norms contribute to the distinctive strengths of different regions around the world. Australia invests in teachers and boasts high degrees of basic and extended education. Asia tends to focus more on performance in standardized testing and high academic scores but sets the stage for those achievements with long, heavy days of study. The Nordic countries and Western Europe find more of a balance with lifestyle concerns, student health, and academic achievement, but other countries struggle to find that balance and match their success. A great choice for children is placement in an international school that blends the strengths of multiple regions.