Quality of teaching and respect for education key factors for its ranking
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 28 Nov 2012
SINGAPORE'S education system has been ranked fifth in the world, behind Finland, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan.
The quality of teaching and cultural respect for education were key factors propelling the Republic into the top five, said the report published yesterday by the Pearson Group.
Researchers looked at the cognitive skills and educational attainment levels of children in 50 countries and territories.
The United Kingdom was sixth, followed by the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland and Canada.
Thailand, Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia were the bottom four countries.
The inaugural Learning Curve report, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of Pearson, found that teachers mattered greatly.
Higher-performing countries recruited top talent to join the profession and trained them throughout their careers.
The study also found that in Singapore, respect for teachers was fuelled by a high level of support for education.
National Institute of Education director Lee Sing Kong noted that the Government sets teachers' starting salaries at a level comparable to those of engineers and accountants entering the civil service.
This sends a clear message about the importance of the teaching profession here, Professor Lee was quoted as saying in the report.
Singapore also did well in the cognitive skills category, which tests mathematics, reading and science. This data was taken from standardised international tests, including the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), which tests 15-year-olds.
In the latest Pisa round in 2009, the Republic came in fifth in reading and second in mathematics.
Data from the Learning Curve report can be found online at http://thelearningcurve.pearson.com
Pearson Group: Top 10 systems
2 South Korea
3 Hong Kong
6 United Kingdom
7 The Netherlands
8 New Zealand