Which Education System Is the Best in the World? (And Why)

The education system can differ in every country. However, one or a few may stand out more than the rest.

On a global scale, which education system offers a variety of opportunities for students? What are the factors to consider to be deemed the “best”? These are all valid questions that people have been asking for years.

So, we asked experts to discuss which education system is the best in the world and why.

Here are their insights:

Craig Selinger M.S. CCC-SLP

Craig Selinger

Speech Language Therapist | CEO and Owner, Brooklyn Letters

Finland, Denmark, and South Korea: Designed toward economic and social stability for their citizens

According to the World Top 20 Project, an authority website that provides annual worldwide rankings of the top 20 education systems out of 200 countries, the United States is mentioned in only one of their lists. In this grouping, the United States just made it to the number 20 position in ranking the top 20 best education systems globally.

Finland, Denmark, and South Korea are in the top three positions for their 2020 education poll rankings. These countries are all positioning themselves to create economic and social stability for their citizens.

What are the secret ingredients? Let’s take a deeper dive into these five factors.

They differ in giving early education

Finland, Denmark, and South Korea’s early childhood education systems are designed around learning through play.

Children learn best when using their imagination:

  • Play sparks opportunities to learn vocabulary,
  • It offers social and emotional development opportunities, and
  • It allows for critical thinking.

There are different types of play, and in various ways, activities can be structured through play. These early childhood foundations are the building blocks for academics.

The mandatory entry point for their students is interesting

In Finland, children aren’t mandated to attend school until they turn six. At six, they start their preschool education, while at turning seven, primary education starts. The Finnish children have access to free preschools at the public level, whether from low-income families or rich ones.

On the contrary, in the US, many lower socio-economic students only have access to public preschools, while their more affluent counterparts have the additional option of attending a higher-quality private preschool.

In Denmark and South Korea, they offer free public preschools. For instance, 96% of kids in Denmark from 3-5 years of age attended preschool in 2007. Likewise, in South Korea, almost 50% of children get enrolled in preschools each year.

The other half-percentage get their early education from their parents or are enrolled in private preschools.

The expenses and equity vary

For instance, Finland, which has the best schooling system globally, offers students free education and free meals from primary to high-school level.

In Denmark, there are no educational dues until the students turn 16 years of age. Once they are done with their secondary education, students are authorized for limited income support by the Danish government called Statens Uddannelsestøtte.

In the same manner, South Korean schools provide pupils with their primary education at no cost. Whereas on the secondary level, lower secondary education is also free of any charge in both public and private schools. However, upper secondary education is not free in South Korea, but it is not compulsory.

Instructional days are spread throughout the entire year

Another common theme among these three countries is their year-round school schedule. This means that their instructional days are spread throughout the entire year rather than having a long, interrupted summer break.

Most schools offer autumn holidays for a week and a 10-day Christmas break in Finland. Moreover, students get a 7-day of winter vacation in February.

Whereas in South Korea, school days are scheduled with two breaks over the whole year. The first break is from mid of December to the end of January, and then there is a summer break for students from August to September.

Students don’t get a pile of homework during these breaks, yet parents encourage them to do some playful extra-curricular activities. Most students like to take classes for their interests like dancing, painting, and more.

  • Finland has the least number of school days all year round, i.e., 190 days per year.
  • In Denmark, students attend school 200 days out of 365 days.
  • The school period in South Korea is divided into two semesters and is scheduled over the whole year.

Standardized tests

Finland and Denmark have no standardized tests until the student reaches higher studies, and the South Korean system doesn’t have any exams in their primary schools. As there is no annual standardized testing, there are still methods that these education systems check a student’s capabilities.

As such, assessments are tailored to individual students in these schools. However, these assessments are done by the teachers who already know the objectives for a respective subject for each student.

Finnish students take only one voluntary test at the end of their upper-secondary school, called the National Matriculation Exam. From this test, it is discovered whether the pupil has gathered all the knowledge and skills taught in the upper secondary school curriculum or whether they have reached the goals that the curriculum was set for.

Outstanding level of numeracy

The international education rankings in 2020 have also exposed the fact that the students of the best educational systems showed an excellent understanding level of numeracy. The students of these educational systems perform really well when it comes to dealing with numbers and statistics.

In this regard, the Finnish school system has been making some reforms over the past 40 years. The program that Finland shaped was stressing over learning key skills such as numeracy and problem-solving for their students instead of just cramming the basic rules like before.

Consequently, Finland has scored high, not only in the assessment like PISA but also in a competition called Survey of Adult Skills, PIAAC.

Similarly, the South Korean Education system is an excellent example of teaching the core principles of numeracy.

Above all, in Danish schools, reasoning and devising different strategies are part of most subjects to enhance kids’ learning competency. Students in Danish schools are given assessments as their school projects on a weekly basis.

While collecting data from diverse sources, the kids’ ability to analyze a problem automatically makes them highly proficient in assessing an issue and analyzing a situation.

In conclusion, Finland, Denmark, and South Korea have some of the best education systems in the world, but they are also reducing the gap between their education systems and the work industry.

In Denmark, students start their higher education by working alongside, while Finnish students usually begin taking jobs in their expected careers as interns or apprentices during their high-school education.

Consequently, these countries are also becoming leaders in economic sectors such as finance, construction, and manufacturing.

Cheryl Adora

Cheryl Adora

GCSE Maths Teacher | Private Tutor, Tutor Spot

Cuba: It has the fairest, most inclusive, and most equitable education system designed

Before we can consider which education system is the best in the world, we must first establish the criteria to base the decision. What exactly is it which elevates an education system above all others? How exactly are we defining “best” here?

By definition, this is subjective, but it is essential to identify some of the benchmarks at the outset that will allow us to make a considered judgment.

The literacy levels of its citizens can be a feature of a successful system

I would argue that one feature of such a successful system is the literacy levels of its citizens. An education system cannot claim to be successful if it fails to meet the most basic needs of its subjects.

Following close on the heels of high literacy is accessibility. Can an elitist system that requires specific resources or attributes at the outset as an entrance ticket really be considered the best? And what place does equality of opportunity have in the debate?

A commonly accepted measure of high-status education systems worldwide is test performance, but are these results an accurate indication of a country’s superior education levels?

Some would argue that there are other, more convincing indicators of a flourishing education system and that central among them is the ability to problem-solve.

We have identified three factors to consider when determining the best and essential features of the best education systems:

  1. High literacy levels,
  2. Equality of access, and
  3. The development of problem-solving skills

It is important to note that we are not identifying the highest performing education system but the “best.” This allows a degree of more fluid and flexible interpretation.

High literacy levels

There are a handful of countries around the world with 100% literacy rates. To name a few, among these are:

  • Liechtenstein
  • Greenland
  • Andorra
  • Luxembourg
  • Norway
  • Finland
  • Uzbekistan

Perhaps surprisingly, the US has a shockingly low literacy rate of 79%, which is on a par with many of the world’s poorest developing countries. The UK falls short of the mark at 99%.

The country I am putting forward as a beacon of success regarding its commitment to achieving 100% literacy for its citizens, though, is Cuba, a tiny country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world.

Before 1959, the literacy rate in Cuba was 77%. The Cuban government embarked on a concerted effort to raise the literacy levels of all its citizens by coining 1961 as the ‘year of education.’ They launched the Cuban Literacy Campaign and sent out literacy brigades into the community to build schools, train educators, and teach illiterate peasants to read and write.

By 2010, Cuba’s literacy rate for ages over 15 was 99%. It currently stands at virtually 100%—a huge achievement given the economic sanctions imposed by the US in 1958. As of 2022, Cuba is one of the few countries where women’s literacy levels surpassed those of men for many years before they achieved 100% literacy.

Cuba also boasts one of the highest rates of doctors per capita and a higher life expectancy than the US.

Equality of access

Finland, frequently put forward as having the best education system globally, has equality issues regarding racism. According to a report in 2018, people of African descent experienced racist harassment, including in Finnish schools.

Importantly, Cuba sought to educate everyone—for free.

The Literacy Campaign was designed to raise the status of all its citizens. The government placed urban teachers in rural settings where they were encouraged to live like the peasants to break down social barriers. As Fidel Castro said in 1961 when addressing literacy teachers, “You will teach, and you will learn.”

The campaign aimed to politicize its citizens, giving them a sense of pride and a shared identity. In addition, the campaign brought to light the systemic issues like healthcare and accessibility to childcare which became barriers to education for some of its citizens.

They sought to eliminate these inequities to ensure education for all.

Also, the campaign was extended to assist 15 other countries and subsequently, thousands of Cuban literacy teachers raised literacy levels in countries such as Haiti, Nicaragua, and Mozambique.

Culturally, Cuba has produced some of the world’s most successful ballet dancers, such as Carlos Acosta, who, despite being the eleventh and last child born into a low-income family in Havana, had the opportunity to study dance with the Cuban National Ballet School.

This state-funded initiative allowed the opportunity for real and lasting social mobility.

Speaking to Sarah Crompton at the Hay festival in Herefordshire in May 2014, Acosta spoke eloquently about his incredible trajectory from Cuban schoolboy to multi-award-winning, world-famous ballet dancer.

Proper social mobility that’s accessible to all its citizens has to be one of the indicators of a successful education system, and this was an intentional feature of the Cuban education system.

The development of problem-solving skills

Four countries score consistently high on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests conducted by The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is carried out every three years to assess the reading, maths, and science ability of 15-year-olds worldwide.

These four countries are:

  1. China
  2. Singapore
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Japan

China, Singapore, and Japan are societies that have clearly excelled technologically in the past 40 years, with Japan being described as one of the most futuristic-looking countries in the world. This is predicated on its citizens having good problem-solving skills.

For me, though, as a huge social improvement in problem-solving exercises, I am drawn back to Cuba.

Over 60 years, the country—one of the poorest in the world and facing economic sanctions by the US—mobilized student workers, teachers, and adult volunteers to achieve something that some of the wealthiest countries in the world haven’t, in eradicating illiteracy and raising the educational status of all its citizens.

As Barack Obama put it in his speech to the Cuban people in 2016:

“Cuba has an extraordinary resource, a system of education which values every boy and every girl.”

In conclusion, Cuba, from its humble beginnings with a 30% literacy rate in the 1930s, is the country that stands out as having the ‘best’ education system.

It is described as the fairest, most inclusive, and most equitable system designed to raise the status of all its citizens in a huge problem-solving exercise lasting more than 60 years. It ironically resulted in an education system far superior to many more affluent countries.

Richard J. Brandenstein

Richard J. Brandenstein

Attorney and FBR Law partner, Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C.

Finland: Everyone has access to good quality education

In my opinion, the best education system in the world is in Finland. They have a unique and interesting approach to education, and it’s widely known how they operate works well overall.

Finland’s average exam scores and reading ages are typically higher in comparison to other countries across the globe, which emphasizes their success.

In general, they have a good number of teachers, and the ratio of teachers to pupils is far lower than in other parts of the world. This allows for more focused education and extra support for students.

The education system is all free, making a huge difference, and means that everyone has access to good quality education.

As Finland’s school years are shorter, this allows students more freedom and time to relax, which helps to prevent burnout, and increases productivity.

In addition to this, the freedom to choose subjects is better for the students. Children also start compulsory schooling at the age of seven and are encouraged to develop through play.

Dr. Ritesh Jain, MBBS, FRACP

Ritesh Jain

Consultant Respiratory and Sleep Medicine Physician, WhatASleep

Denmark: Their world-renowned universities produce stellar graduates

It won’t be a list of the best education systems in the world if you don’t have Denmark at the very top. Denmark boasts a literacy rate of 99%, which is almost unrivaled across the globe. If this isn’t an indicator of its top-notch education system, what is.

Denmark has several world-renowned universities with exquisite and comprehensive degrees. Most of these have been recognized to meet international standards. These universities produce stellar graduates that multinational organizations and conglomerates scoop up.

Lastly, Denmark also offers free education up to high school, which indicates how much the Danish government prioritizes education.

Simran Mishra

Simran Mishra

B.A English Majors | Content Creator, Select Your University

Federally run and decentralized education systems rank highest amongst any other criteria

As we are growing as human beings or in the masses, the demand for education is increasing, as well as the effective educational system that certainly evaluates the quality of an individual’s life or their continued existence.

Worldwide, the educational bodies vastly differ from their education systems due to a lack of resources and capital.

Some countries are unable to fulfill basic amenities, either its running water or electricity, and simultaneously could not maintain the standard of the education system, or in some cases, no formal schooling at all.

Such differences are a social and political concern for many countries.

The importance of education can never be stressed enough, no matter what the field of study may be. Education is the foundation of civilization. It is the key to social progress and economic prosperity. Hence, education is itself an illimitable topic to discuss.

A good education system should be able to instill in children a sense of respect for themselves, their peers, and their environment, and also a sense of responsibility for their own development and the development of the world around them.

Based on the best education system 2020, it has been found that the United Kingdom comes at the top for having a fully-fledged education system in the world. And in contrast to recent stats, the United States with 2nd position, followed by the countries Australia, the Netherlands, and Sweden are renowned for their best education system 2020.

The 2021 Ranking is based on a global survey in which the United States replaced the United Kingdom from its number one ranking in the 2020 world’s best education systems.

The public education system of the US is funded to a large extent through federal and state property taxes. According to the news, the US is home to eight out of 10 best global universities.

Every student dreams of having been born in one of those countries with the best education systems, and very few are privileged enough to pursue a quality education from such a best country.

Most countries have faced inequality in the education system, which has been marked as a huge concern regarding our nation’s future.

Some students have made themselves comfortable in their local education system and wish to touch the sky. Meanwhile, some countries may fail an individual to realize their strength in their particular field. Studying abroad can help you to accomplish all of these.

Which country has the best education system in the world?

These rankings are categorized through those countries that equally weighed and accredited a full-grown public education with a quality-based education system and whether a response would take into account attending university in that nation.

Federally run and decentralized education systems rank highest amongst any other criteria.

Countries with the best education system are ranked through an annual introspection-based global survey of university students, industrialists, academic professionals, etc.

Keeping the statistics of the best education system in mind, the following are the top five countries with the best education system in 2022.


This is the first leading country ever to develop an education system that has been observed unique and focuses on individualized learning.

The education system in Finland is different from that in other countries:

  • It does not focus on competition.
  • It does not focus on standardized tests.
  • The education system in Finland is based on trust. This allows the education system in Finland to be successful through collaboration and transparency.
    • The government trusts the teachers.
    • The teachers trust the students.
    • The students trust the system.

In addition, Finland’s education system is known for its focus on creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

South Korea

South Korea is a small country with a highly developed education system. It is ranked as the 5th most educated country in the world by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The education system in South Korea is divided into three levels:

  • Primary level – It starts at age six and lasts for six years.
  • Secondary level– It lasts for another three years.
  • Tertiary level – It includes both vocational and academic programs at universities and other institutions.

South Korea has a highly centralized education system. The government is responsible for the funding and regulation of schools. The curriculum is standardized across the country, but there is some flexibility for schools to offer their own programs.

South Korea has a high level of participation in education. The literacy rate is 100%, and the net primary enrollment rate is 100%.

The country also has a high level of educational attainment. About 80% of the population has completed secondary education, and more than 40% has completed tertiary education.

The country ranks 3rd in the world for the quality of its universities, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.


Denmark’s education system is known to provide high-quality education. The country is also recognized among the top 10 education systems in the world. Academia in Denmark is wellknown because of its special settings in the universities relative to providing healthy knowledge to their enrolled students.

There are several reasons why the education system in Denmark is so successful.

First, the country has a long tradition of investing in education. In fact, Denmark spends more on education as a percentage of GDP than any other country in the OECD.

Second, the Danish education system is very inclusive. All children, regardless of their social background, are given the opportunity to attend high-quality schools. As a result, Denmark has one of the lowest rates of social mobility in the OECD.

Third, the Danish education system is very decentralized. This means that there is a lot of local control over schools and teachers. This decentralization gives teachers the freedom to innovate and experiment with new teaching methods.

Finally, the Danish education system is very collaborative. Teachers, parents, and students all work together to ensure that every child gets the best education possible.

Hong Kong

The education system in Hong Kong is one of the best in the world. The city’s schools are consistently ranked among the top in international comparisons. In addition, Hong Kong students have some of the highest test scores in the world.

United Kingdom

The UK has one of the oldest education systems in the world—as both Oxford and Cambridge, along with other top universities, are founded in the UK.

A great education system is not about mere academic excellence. It should also be about the development of the child as a whole.

Beverly Gearreald

Beverly Gearreald

Educational Consultant | Community Manager, Transizion

No educational system can truly be considered the best; each has its strengths and weaknesses

Answering which educational system is the best requires having a metric to measure educational systems.

  • Do you care about basic literacy the most?
  • Research?
  • Equal access?

All of these can result in different countries ranking #1.

Educational trends to avoid

Thus, while determining which system is best, some definite trends are worse than others. For example, I grew up in Sub-Saharan Africa. Free education was unheard of, which resulted in definite inequities, particularly along gender and wealth lines. As a result, reading (in any language) and basic math skills were not commonplace.

I went to an international school, and, by 7th grade, my math capabilities far outstripped any local college graduate my father interviewed for a position. My sister, who was in 4th grade, beat all the applicants on a math test, save one.

In the same way, systems that do not teach children about technology leave them at a significant disadvantage.

Related: How Important Is Technology in Education

Some examples of this can be found among homeschooled students, particularly the Amish and some Mennonite communities in the US and Canada.

When these students finish high school, they are ill-equipped to handle modern life or pursue higher education, particularly in STEM, despite education at large in the US and Canada embracing technology in education.

Countries with great education systems

The educational system in the US is widely sought after internationally, particularly in higher education. There are plenty of reasons for this. America has many exceptional research institutions on the cutting edge of knowledge.

For some fields, studying elsewhere in the world will not grant the same kind of access to expertise, technology, and funding that can be found in the US. However, this excellence at the top of the system comes at a high price, literally.

Going to a top US university is expensive. Even some state schools, like the UCs, are becoming too selective to meet their mandate of providing an education for the high school graduates from their state. This is why companies like ours exist: to help students get into university despite the ever-rising bar.

This is where many places in Europe have an advantage: They are more equal.

For example, if you want to become a doctor in Germany, medical school typically costs as little as a few hundred dollars per semester.

Additionally, going from high school to being an MD only takes six years in Germany instead of eight years in the US. Germany also has a central system that looks at grades, relevant professional experience such as working as an EMT, and time spent waiting to gain entry into medical school to distribute slots.

German students are also more likely to do clinical rotations overseas, exposing them to a wider variety of patient populations than their US counterparts.

In summary, I don’t think that any one educational system can truly be considered “the best.” Each has strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important for countries to try and ease the deficiencies of their particular system while also keeping the elements that make their system good.

Nadia Ibrahim-Taney, M.Ed., MA

Nadia Ibrahim-Taney

University Career Coach, Beyond Discovery Coaching

It depends upon the student’s individual needs

All education systems serve a purpose, and the goal of determining which is the best is contingent upon the student’s individual needs.

I studied in both the United States and the United Kingdom and found both degrees to hold high value. My US degree helped focus my expertise through practical, hands-on work experience, whereas my UK degree focused more on academic research.

When evaluating an education system, it is best to consider first:

  • What experience you are after,
  • How much time you want to invest in the program,
  • The cost, etc.

That will help you determine which education system is the best for you.

I would also encourage students to consider their field of study when deciding on an education system.

For example, if you want a very specialized degree in European History, how cool would it be to study in the countries where history took place, allowing you to visit historically important sites while learning them in the classroom? Or, if you are an International Business major, studying abroad could be a huge bonus added when you start applying for jobs.

And lastly, foreign languages majors should definitely consider diversifying their education systems so they can practice with the native speakers of their language studies while learning simultaneously.

Nothing will replace such an honest and authentic learning experience than studying in a place where the language is spoken as part of the culture.

Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson

CEO, Seven Figure Agency

United States: Regarded for delivering high-quality education

The United States, a forerunner in contemporary education, is regarded for delivering high-quality education offered by internationally renowned teachers.

The country has more Nobel Laureates than any other country and annually welcomes over a million overseas students. Some of the most popular subjects among international students in the United States include computer science, engineering, business management, law, and the arts.

Furthermore, because of the emphasis on research and development in the American educational system, universities now offer a wide range of research-oriented degree programs, particularly STEM courses, at the graduate, postgraduate, and doctoral levels, making it the most sought-after educational destination.

Related: 40+ Reasons Why Research Is Important in Education

The United States has, without a doubt, the greatest education system in the world, including colleges such as Harvard University, University of Oxford, Yale University, and MIT.

United Kingdom: It has been a center of learning for ages

The United Kingdom is the second most popular educational destination in the world, with about half a million international students enrolling in a variety of programs.

For ages, the United Kingdom has been a center of learning. Students from all over the world have been drawn to the UK Education system because of its unique combination of rich English culture and different learning opportunities.

Pauline Delaney

Pauline Delaney

Career Coach, CV Genius

International baccalaureate system: It teaches kids how to analyze real-life situations critically

International Baccalaureate System, also known as IB, is the best education system globally, and that’s because it teaches kids how to critically analyze real-life situations. It is a relatively new form of education where it’s a part of the curriculum to learn practical skills.

Rote learning isn’t just the objective of this system; it provides students the opportunities to develop valuable skills rather than just memorization.

Other education systems are not equipping young minds with the skills necessary to achieve their future goals and ambitions. They usually focus on providing the basic skills that are not going to be quite helpful in university applications.

So, IB has the edge over these systems because they teach students to think and develop research skills critically.

Brandon Walsh

Brandon Walsh

Founder, Dads Agree

Steiner School System: It allows students to contribute positively to society

This education system enables children to learn in such a way that it allows them to discover their true selves. It also allows students to contribute positively to society and become pioneers of doing good globally.

However, this system is specially designed to meet the individual’s needs.

Some factors considered would be age and the child’s development stage. This eventually becomes the basis of what courses a child should be taught, ranging from piano lessons to philosophy.

The Steiner school system is the perfect combination that considers physical activities a core part of each course. It would allow children to become emotionally stable and ensure that they succeed in the practical world.

Megan Ayala

Megan Ayala

Head Reviewer, Patricia and Carolyn

The Cambridge system of education: It focuses more on developing practical skills for the future

The Cambridge system of education is the best education system in the world. The curriculum is set in such a way that it provides a deeper understanding of subjects like Maths, English, Science, and Arts.

The best part is that the subjects are not limited to these fields only. Students have a wide range of options to choose from. So, you can even opt for unconventional subjects like Music and Food.

What’s more, the Cambridge system focuses more on developing practical skills for the future. They do this by strengthening the students’ conceptual understanding of a subject rather than focusing on rote learning.

It is a standard of education renowned globally and equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to enter a competitive job market.

Baljeet Dogra

Baljeet Dogra

Founder, KidSmart

United Kingdom: Ranks as the number one nation when it comes to education

There is growing interest internationally in supporting private-sector education initiatives. Private-sector education institutions stand out remarkably in comparison to any government-funded education models. Private schools are more often regarded as a better choice than public schools.

Healthy competition in the education sector also leads to greater innovation and improvement in delivery. Ultimately it is about addressing the needs of the youth, equipping them with the necessary skills to make important growth transitions in their lives.

Currently, according to the Top 20 Countries with Best Education System in the World Survey, the UK ranks as the number one nation when it comes to education.

Given how our app was developed as a solution to an education challenge in the United Kingdom, it would be fair to say that the delivery of education delivery models continues to evolve to embrace technological advancements.

Our website is a private education model that challenges the delivery of more traditional teaching methods. The pandemic demonstrated the growing importance and relevance of using digital tools for the effective delivery of high-quality educational solutions.

The private sector should not be ruled out when it comes to delivering quality education.

As a parent, I can vouch for the importance of bringing new educational solutions to the market. I used my professional skills as an IT specialist to create an app to help my daughter prepare for 11+, an examination specifically taken in the UK at the age of 11–12.

Carson Reed

Carson Reed

Chief Editor, Internet of Learning

Individuals and society both benefit from education. Regardless of where we reside, we must maintain our educational system to assist us in maintaining our knowledge.

In addition, a person’s awareness of society and their duty as citizens grow with education.

However, education systems in different countries differ due to differences in geographic allocations. As a result, we’ll look at two of the world’s most diverse educational systems and their rankings in a yearly study.

Although the distinction has not yet been officially awarded, according to a recent poll, Finland has the best education system globally.

Finland: Since 2000, the country has been in the spotlight

Since 2000, the country has been in the spotlight, and it has successfully made it to the year 2022.

When categorizing the world’s most excellent education systems in 2021, Finland performed well and gave South Korea and Japan a run for their money. On several factors, the country came out on top.

School learning and apprenticeships go hand in hand, whereas vocational education is job-focused. After that, students receive competency-based certifications.

Students in general education have complete autonomy over their study schedules and must eventually sit for a matriculation exam. And these grades are taken into account when they apply to colleges.

Finland does not use government standardized test scores but instead uses evaluations to assess learning results. One of the other notable attractions is the availability of complimentary meals.

South Korea: It shows unwavering support for education, schools, and teachers

South Korean schools are world leaders in the integration of retail technology. Korea’s universities have a less enviable international reputation, yet the country was rated 22nd out of 50 nations in the Universities 21 network of research universities’ 2018 Ranking of National Higher Education Systems.

Meanwhile, Korea was recently ranked 12th out of 35 countries in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s “Worldwide Educating for the Future Index,” tied with the United States.

But what truly distinguishes South Korea is its unwavering support for education, schools, and teachers from top to bottom. South Korea is proud of its educational system, and its educators are known as heroes.

If additional cities were upgraded to the same high rank, it would help promote upward quality in spiral education rather than the downward spiral of demoralization and budget cuts that so many countries are experiencing at the moment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a one-size-fits-all best education system?

The simple answer is no. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all best education system. Each society has its unique needs, values, and goals, which should be reflected in their education system. 

However, there are common principles and key features that can be adapted to create an ideal education system for any context.

What are the key features of an ideal educational system?

An ideal education system should be built on a few fundamental principles:

Student-centered approach:
• Focus on each student’s individual needs, strengths, and interests.
• Encourage self-directed learning and critical thinking skills.

Inclusive and equitable:
• Ensure equal access to quality education for all, regardless of socio-economic background, gender, or ability.
• Create a safe and supportive learning environment.

Culturally relevant:
• Integrate local culture, values, and history into the curriculum.
• Foster respect for cultural diversity and global citizenship.

Holistic development:
• Address emotional, social, physical, and cognitive aspects of learning.
• Provide opportunities for extracurricular activities, sports, and arts.

Lifelong learning:
• Encourage continuous learning and skill development throughout life.
• Promote a growth mindset and adaptability in a rapidly changing world.

Collaboration and community involvement:
• Foster collaboration between students, teachers, and parents.
• Engage the local community in supporting and shaping the education system.

What factors should be considered when evaluating an education system?

Access and equity:
• Evaluate the availability and distribution of resources (e.g., schools, teachers, materials).
• Assess the system’s effectiveness in addressing disparities in education access and outcomes.

Quality of teaching:
• Analyze the qualifications, training, and support for teachers.
• Examine the teacher-student ratio and classroom environments.

Curriculum and assessment:
• Review the relevance and rigor of the curriculum.
• Examine the balance between knowledge acquisition and skill development.
• Assess the fairness and validity of assessment methods.

Student outcomes:
• Analyze academic performance, graduation rates, and dropout rates.
• Evaluate the development of critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills.
• Consider student well-being and social-emotional growth.

System efficiency:
• Review the allocation and use of financial resources.
• Assess the adaptability and responsiveness of the education system to societal changes.

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