Education levels vary between countries around the world. In general, people in underdeveloped and undeveloped countries do not have access to quality education or education at all. Those in developed nations have higher literacy rates and at least a basic high school education.
According to the Global Partnership for Education, education is considered to be a human right and plays a crucial role in human, social, and economic development. Education promotes gender equality, promotes peace, and increases a person's chances of having more life opportunities.
The best countries for education are ranked based on a perception-based global survey. This survey used a compilation of scores from three equally-weighted attributes: a well-developed public education system, would consider attending university there, and provides top-quality education. As of 2018, the top ten countries based on education rankings are:
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
- The Netherlands
Education rankings depend on many different aspects of learning, like completing primary school or graduating high school. Let's take a look at countries by categories on a smaller scale to give you an idea of how each country's education systems perform on average.
Countries by Primary School Completion Rate
Countries by Secondary School Completion Rate
Countries by High School Completion Rate
Countries by Collegiate-Level School Completion Rate
Education Rates of Children Around the World
Most findings and ranking regarding education worldwide involve adult literacy rates and levels of education completed; however, some studies look at current students and their abilities in different subjects.
One of the most reviewed studies regarding education around the world involved 470,000 fifteen-year-old students. Each student was administered tests similar to the American SAT or ACT exams. The SAT and ACT are both standardized tests used for college admissions. The SAT covers writing and language, reading, and math with an optional essay section, while the ACT has English, math, reading, and science reasoning with an optional essay section. The SAT is scored on a scale of 400-1600, combining the scores of two sections (math and critical reading and writing), which are scored on a scale from 200 to 800. Each of the four sections of the ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36, and then averaged and rounded to the nearest whole number to receive a composite score.
Students that participated in the study were given exam questions that tested their reading, math, and science abilities. The answers were reviewed and each exam received a score, which was later taken into account when finding the average score for each of the three subject matters. By looking at how children from each country performed on the exams, you can get a feel for how people's literacy rates and education levels compare from one country to the next. Based on this study, China received the highest score of 1731 and the highest score in all three sections.
The Best Education System in the World vs. The Worst Education System in the World
Few things in life are more important than having an education. Developed countries worldwide have well-developed educational systems and opportunities for higher education, which helps the citizens of that country obtain higher-paying jobs and a better quality of life.
There is no definitive list of countries that offer the best and worst education. However, organizations, think tanks, and publications have used data such as literacy or graduation rates to determine which nations have the best education systems.
One such list was created by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development or OECD. This organization looked at the number of people between the ages of 25 and 64 who have completed a vocational program or had to receive a two- or four-year degree. This data was used to determine which countries were the most educated.
Based on this list, Canada is the most educated nation. Over 56% of adults have continued their education past high school. Coming in second is Japan. Over 50% of adults in this country have completed some form of post-high school education. Falling right in behind Japan is Israel, with 49.9% of adults having finished a higher education program. Other nations that were ranked highly in education based on this data include:
Another measurement of the most educated countries is through the U.S. News & World Report's Best Countries for Education list. These rankings were based on three factors: a well-developed public education system, top-quality education, and whether respondents would consider attending university in that nation.
Based on this list, the United Kingdom comes out on top as having the world's best education system. In second place is the United States, about 70% of graduates go on to a higher education program. In third place is Canada, followed by Germany and France. A different list, the World Economic Forum's Global Competitive study, ranks Finland as having the most well-developed education in the world.
Ironically, despite the United States having the second-best education system globally, it consistently scores lower than many other countries in benchmarks such as math and science. According to the Business Insider report in 2018, its education ranking was 38th in math scores and 24th in science. The United States' education rankings have been falling by international standards over the past three decades, as the government has decreased education funding by 3%. Still, other countries have increased their education funding.
Countries with well-developed education systems also have some of the best high schools in the world, which prepare students for college or university. The United States' education ranking is enhanced by high schools like the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. The United Kingdom has the well-known Eton College, along with Westminster School, both of which are highly selective. Many of the best high schools in the world are private and have tuition rates comparable to those of Ivy League schools.
On the flip side, there are nations with inadequate educational systems. This notion could be due to internal conflict, economic problems, or underfunded programs. Some of the world's worst educational systems can be found in these nations: