The 20 Best Educational Systems Worldwide

If asked, almost any individual in any country would say that education is important. However, the details of how it is handled are very different for each country.


Pearson is an education group that conducts tests on a regular basis, determining how countries around the world rank in terms of education. The measurable data, such as grades, are used to figure out which country can be deemed the most successful in educational endeavors.
Western countries tend to think of themselves as high on the education spectrum. However, with these recent results, the US got a wake-up call. The US education system ended up with a rank of 14th. Below are results compiled by Pearson. These tend to be widely disputed, depending on the country discussed. However, this particular set of results gives the reader an interesting point to ponder. What makes for a successful education system in a country?

1. South Korea
When it comes to first, there is a strong battle waging between South Korea and Japan. Despite Japan’s greater financial investment in education, South Korea defeated Japan in three different levels. This may have to do with the fact that South Korean children often attend school seven days a week. It also may have something to do with their literacy level, which is at 97.9%. Males have a literacy level of 99.2%, while females are at 96.6%. South Korea also reportedly had an education budget of 11,300,000,000 last year.
For 2014, the GDP or PPP was estimated at $34,795 per capita.

2. Japan
Japan has a very technology-focused education structure. This lends well to cultivating great minds in knowledge and insight. This also can be shown to have a positive impact on GDP, which is at almost 5.96 trillion in USD.

3. Singapore
Singapore’s primary education system is highly respected. This may have something to do with it’s third place rank. Meanwhile, the country’s GDP is third in the world, estimated at per capita 64,584 in USD.

4. Hong Kong
Modeled after the UK’s education system, the primary, secondary and higher education levels are all considered to exceed expectations when it comes to method and practice. The literacy rate for the country is 94.6%, with most educational texts written in English or Cantonese Chinese. The country’s education budget was estimated at 39,420 per capita, while Hong Kong’s GDP was 404.892 billion USD.

5. Finland
Previously, Finland was considered #1 in the world for education. However, premature child admission to school has Finland falling behind while the Asian countries continue to surpass other countries. In Finland, the annual education budget is €11.1 billion, with no tuition fees. The country’s GDP is around $36,395 per capita.

6. UK
According to Pearson in 2014, the UK was ranked #2 in European countries and #6 worldwide. In fact, Scotland has slightly edged England in terms of educational quality. This is because the countries have begun dealing with education on an individual basis, rather than as a collective. Therefore, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have set their separate governments to the task.
The UK’s GDP per capita is ranked 21st in the world at $38,711.

7. Canada
Canada has the world’s highest ratio of college graduates. The country also boasts a 99% literacy rate for both males and females. Most provinces require education to continue until the age of 16, with a few noted exceptions. The school calendar is typically between 180 to 190 days, and English and French are the primary languages used for educational texts.
Canada’s GDP is $44,656 per capita, with 5.4% of that GDP invested in the educational sector.

8. Netherlands
Education in the Netherlands does not receive significant financial investment, nor is it the focus of quality planning or management – particularly at the high school level. This leads to the low rank of the country’s education system.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands reportedly has a GDP of $42,586.

9. Ireland
Education is free in Ireland, from primary level to college education. European Union students who attend college in Ireland are charged tuition fees and some other costs. Meanwhile, the Irish government invests 8,759 billion euro in the educational system each year. The literacy rate is 99% for both males and females.

10. Poland
Pearson and the Economist both rank Poland as the #4 in the European countries and #10 in the world as a result of well-established educational structure at the primary and secondary levels. The Polish Ministry of Education oversees business in the country as well. The country’s GDP is $21,118 per capita.

11. Denmark
Education in Denmark is required until the age of 16. The system is divided into pre-school, primary, secondary, higher and adult education. Secondary education is further divided into: gymnasium, higher preparatory, higher commercial, higher technical and vocational education programs. Post-secondary education is not mandatory. However, 82% of students are enrolled in that level of education. Meanwhile, the UN’s Human Development index and the education index are among the highest in the world.
Denmark’s per capita GDP is $57,998.

12. Germany
Germany’s education is handled by the state, rather than as a federal focus. Kindergarten education is not mandatory. However, secondary education is a requirement. There are five types of schools at the secondary level. Meanwhile, German universities are considered a powerhouse among the world’s educational facilities. The country is focused on creating one of the best educational systems worldwide.
Germany’s GDP per capita is $41, 248.

13. Russia
Russia’s literacy rate is rounded to 100%. However, the country has never put much importance or focus on primary education. However, a survey by World Bank determined that 54% of the country’s work force has graduated college level, considered one of the best achieving countries in the world at this level.
In 2011, Russia spent 20 billion USD on education.
The country’s GDP is $14,645.

14. United States
The US has a literacy rate of 99% for both males and females. Despite a well developed economy, long considered one of the strongest in the world, the education systems has a national annual budget of $1.3 trillion. Approximately 81.5 million students in the US attend school, with 38% of those at the primary level, 26% at the secondary level and 20.5 million attending high education. Of those, 85% of the secondary educated students receive a diploma, while 30% of the students attending higher education receive a diploma. Education in the US is offered free through the primary and secondary levels.
The US GDP per capita is ranked sixth in the world at $54,980.

15. Australia
The country’s literacy rate is 99%, with 2 million at the primary level. Of the students who attend secondary, 75% attain a diploma. The student percentage who receive a diploma from post-secondary study is 34. Education is under the control of the states and territories. Education is conducted using English as the primary language. Australia’s annual education budget in 2009 was $490 million, more than 5.1% of GDP for the year. PISA determined Australian education to be 6th, 7th and 9th respectively for reading, science and mathematics, Meanwhile, Pearson has Australia ranked #13 in the world.
The country’s GDP per capita is $44,346.

16. New Zealand
The country uses English and Maori as primary educational languages. PISA considers New Zealand to be ranked 7th for both science and reading and 13th in math. However, a significant detraction is the low test scores at the primary level. HDI considers New Zealand’s primary education to be the highest in the world. However, the index ranks childhood years spent at an educational institute, rather than achievement levels during that time.
The country of New Zealand spent NZ $13,383 million for the 2014-15 school year on education. Meanwhile, the country reports a GDP per capita of $30,493.

17. Israel
The literacy rate for both males and females in Israel is 100%. Education is conducted in Hebrew and Arabic. OECD ranked Israel as the second highest educated nation in the world for 2012. Despite this , the country is considered to make poor judgment when it comes to investment at the primary levels. The country employs an educational structure of primary, middle and high school levels. The education budget for the country is around 28 billion Shequel.
Israel’s GDP per capita is $35,658.

18. Belgium
Flemish, German and French are the primary languages for education in Belgium. Education is required to the secondary level. The education structure is as follows: basic, preschool, primary, secondary, higher, university and vocational. The federal government plays a very minimal role in the sponsorship and funding of education within the country. The UN’s education index ranked Belgium 18th in the world.
The country’s GDP per capita is $38,826.

19. Czech Republic
Education has five levels in Czech Republic: pre-school, elementary, high school, colleges and universities. Education is required attendance until the age of 15.
The country’s GDP per capita is $28, 086.

20. Switzerland
Primary education is required for children in Switzerland. The system is handled by the cantons, and 10 of the universities are also managed by the cantons. Two universities, meanwhile, are managed and controlled by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation. They are under federal jurisdiction.
Switzerland is second only to Australia in the number of foreign students enrolled in tertiary education. The country is ranked 25th in science, 8th in math and 15th overall. However, a report released by the World Economic Forum ranked them first in Global Competitiveness. The country does hold a high number of Nobel Laureates. Switzerland is also home to the university of Swiss confederation, founded in 1460 and widely recognized for the medical and chemical research done there. The university is located in Basel.
Switzerland’s GDP per capita is 47, 863, which is 8th highest in the world.