The Incredible South Korean Education System

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South Korea’s commitment to invest in education pays off

South Korea performance in education in the last four years has been masterful in execution. Their results in standardized testing and their student’s ability to advance towards college graduation is the model over 200 nations, are chasing to be the best in education.

In NJ MED’s 2017, World Top 20 Education Poll that ranks the world’s best education systems, South Korea’s captured, the number one spot for the fourth consecutive year. Even, with Japan closing the gap by seven points, it looks like South Korea will still be number one in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022.

The only hope other nations can catch-up or even keep up, is by improving their early childhood education system. With enrollments, teaching quality, and parent involvement. With that, said, what if South Korea, also improves their early-childhood education system?

South Korea May Be the Best, But   

Heavy is the crown who wears it.

With all the success South Korean students have achieved, some of the country’s children suffer from high rates of depression and mental fatigue. That lead to emotional breakdowns that lead to irrational thoughts that leads to suicide.

Most of the critics of the South Korean teaching method and objectives say they are pushing children and their parents too hard to passing standardized test, rather than teaching students to develop normally as adolescents.

This is something the South Korean government must take very seriously. However, they feel a discipline focus is part of their cultural pride, and something that has strengthened the nation, not weakened it. 

We hope, they can come to a common ground to help to ensure every child develops in a healthy, safe, and nurturing environment.

2017 World Top 20 Education Poll Final Rankings

In 2017, four new countries joined the World Top 20 Education Final Rankings – Estonia, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Italy.  Replacing 2016 ranked countries – Germany, Sweden, France, and Hungary.

Hong Kong and Israel moved into the Top 10, and China went from ninth in 2016 to fifth in 2017. The United States fell from number seven in 2016 to sixteen, with Russia remaining as the only non-Asian country in the Top 5.  

Here is the breakdown of the 2017 Top 20 World Ranked Education Systems:

Number 20: Italy makes their first Top 20 finish in the World Top 20 rankings. This year Italy’s education system ranked top 10 at two academic levels – Early Childhood Enrollment and High School graduation rates. Italy also ranked number 19th in the third quarter poll.

Number 19: Taiwan also makes their first appearance in the World Top 20 Education Poll final rankings. Taiwan ranked top 20 in three educational levels – Secondary, High School and College. They ranked as high as number thirteen in the third quarter poll.

Number 18: New Zealand makes their third top 20 finish in the World Top 20 Poll. New Zealand’s education system ranked top 15 at two academic levels – Early Childhood Enrollment and High School graduation rates. They ranked has high as number 8 in the third quarter poll.

Number 17: Estonia’s education system makes their first top 20 finish in the World Top 20 Education Poll, since 2013. In 2017, Estonia finished top 15 in two education levels – Early Childhood Enrollment and High School graduation rates. Estonia ranked in all fourth quarters of this year’s rankings and finished at their projected position from 2017, first quarter poll. 

Number 16: United States education system fell nine positions from last year’s top 10 finish. The US ranked top 15 in three education levels – Primary, Secondary, and College. After, finishing number one in the second quarter rankings in 2017, the US dropped out of the top 20 rankings in the third quarter and returned to finish four positions higher than their first quarter projected ranking.

Number 15: Norway ranked top 20 in three educational levels – Early Childhood Enrollments, Primary, and College Graduation Rates – in 2017. In the first quarter poll rankings, Norway projected to finish number 6 at the end of the year. Nevertheless, Norway’s education system makes their fourth appearances as one of the world’s 20 best-educated countries.

Number 14: Ireland education system finishes as one of the best in NJ MED’s World Top 20 Education Poll for the fifth time. Ireland rated in 3 top 20 education levels – Primary, Secondary and College Graduation Rates. Ireland making the 2017 final poll ranking, is somewhat shocking, after not being rated all year.

Number 13: Canada dropped one spot from its 2016 ranking. Making it two straight years, Canada has failed to make the top 10. However, Canada continues to do well in three educational levels – Primary, High School, and College.

Number 12: Slovenia moves up six places from it 2016 finish. Slovenia makes their third appearances in the World Top 20 Final Poll Rankings. Slovenia also ranked in the top 20 in four education levels – Early Childhood, Primary, Secondary, and High School graduation rates –in 2017.

Number 11:  The Netherlands education system finishes number eleven for the second straight year. The Netherlands ranked top 20 in all five levels of NJ MED’s education Poll – Early Childhood, Primary, Secondary, High School and College. The Netherlands also was ranked in all four quarters of the poll and finished their projected 2017 first quarter ranked position number 11. 

Number 10: Israel’s education system returned to the Top 10 in 2017. After, Israel ranked in four of the five of the World Top 20 Education Poll’s educational levels – Early Childhood, Secondary, High School, and College.

Number 9: Denmark’s education system ranked in the top 10 in all four quarters of the 2017 World Top 20 Poll. This makes Denmark’s fifth consecutive year in finishing in the top 20, and ranked top 20 in 4 education levels – Early Childhood, Primary, High School, and College.

Number 8: Finland’s education system in most people’s opinion is the world’s best. However, Finland never has been able to capture NJ MED’s World Top 20 Education Poll’s final number one spot. Finland’s education system from the outside looks strong, evident by NJ MED projected Finland to finish number one in 2017. Yet, Finland never ranked higher than number five in the year-end rankings. The 2017 final poll continues to show Finland’s early childhood education system does not rank internationally. 

Number 7: Singapore’s strong standardized test scores for Primary and Secondary levels keeps them in the top half of the World Top 20 Education Poll. Yet, this is Singapore’s lowest finish in five years.

Number 6: United Kingdom’s education system ranked six for the second year in the row. The UK ranked top 10 in four education levels in 2017. Number one in Early Childhood enrollment, number nine in Primary and number ten in Secondary test score levels, and finished number 7 in college student’s graduation rates.

Number 5: China’s education system finished in the top five of the World Top 20 Education Poll, for the first time in 2017. China ranked top 20 in four education levels – Primary, Secondary, High School, and College.

Number 4: Hong Kong moved up 10 spots from last year’s ranking of the world’s best education systems. Hong Kong also finished top 20 in four of the World Top 20 Education Poll’s academic levels – Primary, Secondary, High School, and College.

Number 3: Russia was the only non-Asian nation to finish in the World Top 20 Poll’s top five. Russia also was one of only four countries (Netherlands, Japan, and South Korea) to finish top 20 in all five educational levels of the World Top 20 Education Poll – Early Childhood Enrollments, Primary and Secondary academic scores, and both High School and College graduation rates.

Number 2: Japan’s education system finished number two for the fourth year in a row, after finishing number one in NJ MED’s first World Top 20 Education Poll.  Japan’s education system ranked in the top five in four levels – Primary, Secondary, High School and College, but only reached number 17 in Early Childhood education enrollment.

Number 1: South Korea is declared the best-educated country in 2017. Making it four years in a row. South Korea’s education system also ranked top fifth teen in all five-education levels of the World Top 20 Education Poll. With all the success, South Korea’s education system achieves, it still does not get the recognition it deserves. The fact, NJ MED projected South Korea would not finish number one in 2017, shows South Korea’s domination in education is real.

Expect A Big Shake-Up in 2018

In 2018, NJ MED will publish its first draft World Education Data Base of 265 nations. So, the nations who rank well in one of the five educational levels will push some of this year’s top 20 countries out.

The 2018 World Education Data Base will also allow everyone to see, where each country ranks in- Africa, Asia, the Oceania, Europe, North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean’s. 

But for now, congratulations to South Korea, the best of the best.