Ever thought what school life in countries around the world is like? How do the disciplinarian Koreans teach their kids in difference to an individualist culture like, say, the Finns? As an educator we aim of improving teacher – parent communication, it is kind of our task to do so. So, we put together a list of countries with some key informations:
It’s fair to say there are distinguished differences in academic systems around the world. Henceforth it is no surprise there is a massive gap in achievements of each system of education. A short analysis of each top-class program begins to reveal common threads that are shared between nations with regard to teaching advantage. Before we start to look at every single nation, it is important to know how the nations are ranked and what measures is used to draw conclusions about ranking. One such organization that organises annual comparisons and completes analysis is the Centre on International Educational Benchmarking. The measures they use for determining academic standing includes student scores on the PISA assessment in Math, Reading and Science. Other aspects taken into account when determining rank include graduation rate, teacher training, funding spent per student, and continuing education past the compulsory mandates. Let’s explore some of the top performers to discover what they are doing right.
Top in the list is Singapore, for producing the most solid results on student valuations worldwide. The development of the student is embedded in a teacher dominated classroom hierarchy where the curriculum is practiced and drilled toward the goal of producing high test scores. Grade levels and classes are connected for smooth and meaningful relaying of information.
Here are some interesting facts about Singaporean education system:
- Time spent in school each year is divided into two semesters (Jan-May & July-Nov). The typical school day begins at 7:50 am and ends at 1:15pm. Schools run 171 days yearly.
- Students are cheered to develop beyond the classroom during the break from formal education by taking trips and engaging in compulsory activities to expand knowledge and promote interests/talents.
- According to Quora.com the average fee per student is $8,900/primary level and $11,900/secondary.
- Young children are trained to read using the shared “Big Book” approach where the teacher guides the group through the use of oversized books and demonstrating.
- Teachers make an average of $52,700 USD per annum.
- Singapore also has religious schools, Madrasah’s, which offer mix programs of both secular and religious teaching. The religious classes are also taken to the national curriculum and students take the same national tests as their non-madrasah taught peers.
Hong Kong shows us a stiff philosophy behind the success of its educational system as well. They employ an “all business” attitude with strict observance to compliance and achievement. Hong Kong has long been criticized for failing to cheer creativity and the exchange of ideas in place of “teaching to the test”, where the outcome on the tests are more important than the actual development of the student through open ended learning.
Some interesting facts about Hong Kong education system:
- The typical school day in Hong Kong starts at 7:55 am and ends at 1:45 pm. Many schools are forced into a half day program or two rounds per day due to the number of students. In schools where the students are only able to go half day, they must have to attend every other Saturday also.
- Students must wear uniforms to school and teachers are strict disciplinarians.
- There are 190 teaching days per academic year with a summer break running from the end of June to Sept 1.
- There are 12 years on the educational ladder.
- The average salaries of the teachers are $36,000-$84,000/annually depending on years teaching and level being taught.
- The education system in Hong Kong is highly influenced by the British education system.
The South Korean education system has the same beat as its other Asian neighbours with a stiff performing school system. The powerful nature of the schools produces top students but within a framework of limited flexibility. As the Korean Saying “Teachers are as high as God”. As the Korean saying goes, “teachers are as high as God”. Teachers rule the roost with a secure hand and are extremely respected in the Korean culture. Families take great pride in education. Education associates to high status in the South Korean culture.
South Korean education system:
- The annual cost per student is $7,652.
- The school year runs from March to February. Formal education for the day takes place between 8 am – 4 pm for younger students and 8 am to 9 pm for older students.
- Most students stay later into the evening after the classroom lessons are finished to take part in additional activities. They even eat their dinner at school sometimes.
- Along with their 13 hour school day, South Korean high schoolers also attend private, after school tuition, Hagwon to be precise. Students spend almost 16 hours a day learning, not to mention they also attend class on Saturdays!
- One of the most important characteristics of the South Korean educational system is that teachers are necessary to rotate to a different school to teach every five years. This is a compulsory practice. Principals and Vice Principals are also required to move from school to school using a lottery system.
- Students wear their “school slippers” when inside the building and are required to help clean the school and grounds.
- The salary for a mid-career level teacher in South Korea is $52,600USD per annum.
Japan falls in line with the other top performing Asian school systems as far as student achievement, but pays a more technology savvy based approach. Japan’s current education system has its origins in the American model of 6+3+3+4, with many more components are taken from Europe and appropriated the Japanese way. Students clean their study environment, including the toilets, from elementary school age. With pupils from years above usually taking charge of the juniors in groups, they learn help and support of the foundation of Japanese hierarchical culture. Punctuality is a big deal in Japan, as is in education. Teachers and parents are involved in constant contact and are updated daily, delay of even 5 minutes is not to be tolerated and mostly the school staff assume something had gone wrong, rather than snoozing. Parents are very involved in their child’s education and many volunteer for a variety of tasks from security to supervision or other curriculum activities.
Facts about Japanese Education System:
- Japanese children must learn over 2,400 symbols in order to be able to read & write
- Formal education for the day takes place from 8:30 am to 3 pm each day, with some additional attendance on alternating Saturdays. After 3 pm, the students then attend extra- curricular activities for further self- development.
- Cost per student in Japan is $9500 yearly. Students attend year round with the months of August and January off.
- Japan has an impressive 99% literacy rate nationwide.
- The average teacher salary in Japan is $45,500USD/annually.
- There are 1,338,854 teachers in Japan (2013, MEXT.go.jp)
- The school year begins in April, ending in March the following year.
- 6 years of preschool education is followed by 3 years of Junior High and High school, also often joint into 6 years. Education is compulsory until graduation from Junior High school. University programs generally last 4 years.
Finland is where we begin to see a huge shift in educational philosophy. Finland is more interested in the development and respect of the individual student. Teachers downplay any practice of competition and cultivate an environment of creativity and self-expression. Test scores are not the end all and be all of student success. This style came about in the 1980’s, when Finland realised they had a serious problem with their education as their reducing industry dependent on forestry was started to cause economic problems. Finland’s education system began with elevating the status of teachers.
In fact, Finland is introducing another education reform. By the year 2020, Finland will introduce “teach by topic” method, concentrating on specialised learning programs, along with traditional subject learning like maths and science.
Some facts about the education system in Finland:
- In Finland, the school day starts at 9-9:45 am and runs until 2-2:45pm Monday-Friday.
- Students mention to teachers by their first name.
- By age 13, most Finns speak three or four foreign languages.
- There are no school uniforms and no shoes for the most part. Only a ½ hour of homework is allocated each day. The atmosphere is relaxed and non-competitive.
- Children keep the same teacher for 6 years in a row which boosts a solid relationship based on consistency where the teacher has an opportunity to learn and address the needs of each student.
- Least class hours per week in the developed world.
- Decentralised system means over 320 municipalities have control over the way they teach in schools, not the government at the top.
Unique to the country of Switzerland is an educational system rooted in local autonomy. All decisions as to how the schools function within a specific canton (geographic area) rests with local government, much like their Finnish counterpart. The funding is also the requirement of local cantons and differs significantly from one area to another.
Some interesting facts about educational system of Switzerland:
- Typical cost per student is $15,500 (varies by canton)
- There are 26 separate systems within the country.
- Produced 113 Nobel Prize & 9 Nobel Peace Prize winners.
- Teacher’s salary starts at a huge $98,000/yr. For a first year teacher. Teachers complete a 5 year program and are assessed on moral, psychological, intellectual, knowledge and professional qualities before securing a teaching position.
- The basic school day runs for 2 ½ hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. This schedule presents challenges for working parents, although mothers usually do not work outside the home once they are married with children.
- After the compulsory 11 years of education, 2/3’s of the students select to attend a vocational program w/internship opportunity. This option has created a highly skilled workforce in the country.
- Home to world famous scientific research institutions and laboratories like CERN, EMPA and Paul Scherrer Institute.
What country wouldn’t want to be able to boast they have the “happiest kids in the world”? According to the Dutch Review, happy children are a by-product of the relaxed culture and philosophy. Dutch children enjoy an educational experience that is not based in competition and demanding milestones or exams. Known within the Dutch culture is the importance of play in the development of the child. The Dutch system presents a great deal of choice with regard to the paths a student might choose to follow.
- Average fee per student is $10,500.
- Children attend Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 3pm with an hour break for lunch.
- Government funded system that asks for parental helps when possible.
- There is a great amount of versatility with regard to types of schools. The Netherlands has 2/3 more private schools than public schools and many are based on religious or specialized concepts. It is a parental decision as to which school a child will attend and often there are waiting lists for entrance to particular schools.
- Children start their school experience at age 5 and must attend until age 16 on a full time basis. At age 16, they are then required to attend a minimum of 2 days a week until the age of 18 when they receive their diploma.
- This relaxed system is totally different to the Asian models, although productivity and earning power of the country remains constantly high minus the stressful formative years in school.
- An interesting fact to note is the creation of 22 “Steve Jobs Schools” in 2014. These school are technology based and teachers act as coaches and guides for the students as they self-direct their own learning.
- The average salary of a mid-career teacher is $61,100 annually in Holland. There is significant difference in salary throughout the country.
Canada has a system that also provides for a great deal of teacher autonomy. Each state is responsible for the education of its youth and therefore, there is a lot of difference between provinces. The Canadian population has the highest percentage of citizens with a college degree, coming in at 51% holding a Bachelor of Science or higher.
Some interesting facts:
- Children starts schooling at age of 5 and attend until they are 18 years old, although they may lawfully quit at age 16.
- The school year is 190 days long with a Monday-Friday schedule. The day begins at 8:30 am and runs until 2:30/3:30 depending on age level. There is no instruction on Saturdays or Sundays and children are cheered to participate in extra-curricular activities. Children are given no or very little homework up until the age of 10.
- Cost per student average $11,800 yearly is funded on the local level, not by the federal government. Decisions about everything relating to the schools including hiring practices, curriculum, safety etc. Is determined by the superintendent and a school board for a particular province.
- Home prices are said by the geographic proximity to “good” schools. Basically, schools that have a good reputation and are highly sought after, create an environment where the homes nearby raise higher values.
- Teachers hold a minimum of a BS degree although some provinces require a Master’s level certificate. Parents are highly encouraged to become involved in the classroom in the capacity of “teacher assistants”.
- Pupils are tested at the end of grade 8 for relative intelligence and then guided towards a proper path.
- Average teacher salary of all provinces is $49,400 annually with Alberta offering the highest wages at $58,500 per year for a new teacher.
Teachers are the strong basis upon which everything else rests. Teachers are extremely respected and lead youth through their formative years toward meaningful goals.