Most Educated Countries 2019

Nations around the world have different levels of education. In more developed nations, most adults are literate and have at least a basic high school education. In less-developed nations, the opposite is usually true. In underdeveloped and undeveloped nations, the quality of education is poor, while many people may not have access to education at all.

A country’s education levels can be broken down into three tiers: below upper secondary, upper secondary, and tertiary. Secondary education covers two phases on the International Standard Classification of Education scale: lower secondary education (the final phase of basic education) and upper secondary education. Secondary education takes place after six years of primary education and is followed by higher education, vocational education, or employment. Secondary education is compulsory in most countries. Tertiary education, also known as post-secondary education, refers to any type of education pursued beyond the high school level, such as certificate programs, undergraduate degree programs, graduate degree programs and so on.

Several surveys and studies have been conducted to find the most educated countries in the world. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, has made a list of the world’s most educated countries based on the number of adult residents between the ages of 25 and 64 that have received a tertiary education: two-year or four-year degree or have received an education through a vocational program.

Based on this information, Canada is the most educated country in the world with 56.71% of adults meeting the OECD criteria. Japan has the second-highest percentage of 51.44%, followed by Israel with 50.92%.

The top 10 most educated nations based on this study are:

In general, the lowest education rates are seen in underdeveloped countries. According to the Global Partnership for Education, education plays a key role in human, social, and economic development. Education can promote gender equality, reduce child marriage, promote peace, and overall increases a person’s chances of having a healthy life. The Global Partnership for Education considers education to be a human right, one that grants every person more chances in life such as employment opportunities, better health, and the ability to participate in the political process.

Below is a table of each country’s percentage of people completing tertiary education, upper secondary education, and below upper secondary education.

Flag Country % Tertiary % Upper Secondary % Below Upper Secondary Population 2019
Canada56.71%34.41%8.87%37,411,047
Japan51.44%NaN%NaN%126,860,301
Israel50.92%36.46%12.63%8,519,377
South Korea47.74%39.87%12.39%51,225,308
United States46.36%44.29%9.35%329,064,917
United Kingdom45.74%35.42%18.83%67,530,172
Ireland45.66%36.35%17.99%4,882,495
Australia45.36%35.63%19.01%25,203,198
Finland44.30%43.80%11.90%5,532,156
Norway43.21%38.76%18.03%5,378,857
Switzerland42.59%45.21%12.19%8,591,365
Iceland42.38%34.75%22.86%339,031
Sweden41.94%41.06%17.00%10,036,379
Luxembourg40.33%36.37%23.30%615,729
Lithuania40.27%52.55%7.17%2,759,627
Belgium40.26%36.54%23.20%11,539,328
Estonia39.66%49.02%11.32%1,325,648
Denmark39.23%42.10%18.67%5,771,876
New Zealand37.73%41.15%21.12%4,783,063
Netherlands37.17%41.21%21.62%17,097,130
Spain36.35%22.72%40.93%46,736,776
France35.21%43.17%21.62%65,129,728
Slovenia34.30%53.38%12.32%2,078,654
Latvia33.88%53.73%12.39%1,906,743
Austria32.39%52.57%15.04%8,955,102
Greece31.03%41.68%27.29%10,473,455
Poland29.92%62.19%7.89%37,887,768
Germany28.58%57.94%13.48%83,517,045
Hungary24.05%59.97%15.97%9,684,679
Portugal24.04%23.91%52.05%10,226,187
Czech Republic23.93%69.87%6.21%10,689,209
Slovakia23.10%68.21%8.70%5,457,013
Costa Rica22.99%16.52%60.49%5,047,561
Colombia22.49%31.29%46.22%50,339,443
Argentina21.41%40.06%38.53%44,780,677
Turkey20.01%19.28%60.71%83,429,615
Italy18.67%42.25%39.08%60,550,075
Mexico17.42%20.24%62.34%127,575,529
Indonesia11.86%26.04%62.10%270,625,568
South Africa7.44%65.83%26.73%58,558,270