Most Educated Countries 2020

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:

  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Israel
  • Korea
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Australia
  • Finland
  • Norway
  • Luxembourg

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.

Most Educated Countries 2020

Country % Tertiary % Upper Secondary % Below Upper Secondary Population 2020
Canada56.71%34.41%8.87%37,742,154
Japan51.44%NaN%NaN%126,476,461
Israel50.92%36.46%12.63%8,655,535
South Korea47.74%39.87%12.39%51,269,185
United States46.36%44.29%9.35%331,002,651
United Kingdom45.74%35.42%18.83%67,886,011
Ireland45.66%36.35%17.99%4,937,786
Australia45.36%35.63%19.01%25,499,884
Finland44.30%43.80%11.90%5,540,720
Norway43.21%38.76%18.03%5,421,241
Switzerland42.59%45.21%12.19%8,654,622
Iceland42.38%34.75%22.86%341,243
Sweden41.94%41.06%17.00%10,099,265
Luxembourg40.33%36.37%23.30%625,978
Lithuania40.27%52.55%7.17%2,722,289
Belgium40.26%36.54%23.20%11,589,623
Estonia39.66%49.02%11.32%1,326,535
Denmark39.23%42.10%18.67%5,792,202
New Zealand37.73%41.15%21.12%4,822,233
Netherlands37.17%41.21%21.62%17,134,872
Spain36.35%22.72%40.93%46,754,778
France35.21%43.17%21.62%65,273,511
Slovenia34.30%53.38%12.32%2,078,938
Latvia33.88%53.73%12.39%1,886,198
Austria32.39%52.57%15.04%9,006,398
Greece31.03%41.68%27.29%10,423,054
Poland29.92%62.19%7.89%37,846,611
Germany28.58%57.94%13.48%83,783,942
Hungary24.05%59.97%15.97%9,660,351
Portugal24.04%23.91%52.05%10,196,709
Czech Republic23.93%69.87%6.21%10,708,981
Slovakia23.10%68.21%8.70%5,459,642
Costa Rica22.99%16.52%60.49%5,094,118
Colombia22.49%31.29%46.22%50,882,891
Argentina21.41%40.06%38.53%45,195,774
Turkey20.01%19.28%60.71%84,339,067
Italy18.67%42.25%39.08%60,461,826
Mexico17.42%20.24%62.34%128,932,753
Indonesia11.86%26.04%62.10%273,523,615
South Africa7.44%65.83%26.73%59,308,690