According to a recent survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the best schools are in Asian countries. The survey compared math and science scores of students in 76 nations and ranked those nations based on the data. The top five spots went to Asian countries, specifically Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea, with Japan and Taiwan tying for fourth place.
Finland came in 6th place, while the United Kingdom came it at 20th, and the United States tied with Italy for 28th.
The survey was prepared for the World Education Forum, sponsored by the United Nations. That conference marks 15 years of UN effort to increase education access across the globe. The “millennium targets” have not been fully met yet, but there has been progress. The conference will see another 15 year plan being set to further increase global education.
The rankings illustrate the value of education, especially as an economic motivator. The nations in the highest rankings are some of the best performing and fasting growing, economically. Singapore, which ranked number one in the survey, faced widespread illiteracy as late as the 1960s, but has made a huge turn-around in that time. Vietnam, which ranked 12th, has seen similar increases and has eclipsed countries like the United States or the United Kingdom. In fact, both those countries have had a poorer showing than in the past, with one in five children in the UK not having a basic education when they leave school.
At the bottom of the rankings were several countries in Africa, with Oman in 72nd, followed by Morocco, Honduras, South Africa, and finally Ghana. Most nations in Africa didn’t have enough data to survey, so these nations might still be leading their neighbors in education. Part of the goal with the survey was to illustrate just how much education can help economic development. For example, the survey predicts that, by ensuring a basic education to all 15 year olds, Ghana could improve it’s GDP 3,881% over the lifetimes of those students.