Education is the key to realisation of human potential to the fullest. Investment by any state in education is investment in human capital. Over the years the condition of literacy has increased tremendously across countries, yet the growth is not enough. According to a United Nations study “enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 per cent but 57 million children remain out of school.”
As per United Nations Education Index, Niger is the least literate country in the world, only 15% of its population is literate. Out of this too, the female population is at a disadvantage. Also the financial burden associated with the schooling process is also very high. Hence, income as well as gender disparities collectively pose a huge problem for Niger education system. Conditions are equally or even worse in Eritrea, where on an average the people are likely to attend school for not more than 4 years. Low GDP expenditure turns out to be another reason for poor performance of Eritrea in terms of education.
What further affects education is the disproportionate student teacher ratio and it is precisely this area where they have been trying to improve their position. Even Mali has offered the same kind of issue with its schooling systems. Sudan has also exhibited poor statistics in terms of education; one of the reasons for this is its state of military conflict. Reasons are many but the result is one: poor education at the global level, which directly affects human existence at present and potential sustainable development for future.
At the same time these few countries aren’t the only ones which are suffering from poor education systems. There are several other countries which need to improve- a look at some successful countries can prove helpful in this regard. Good examples can be found by looking at the top ten countries in the area of education. According to World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Comparison report, Singapore has been ranked the best in terms of Education System across the world. Over the years Singapore’s expenditure of education has been on the rise and in year 2016 Singapore spent nearly 12,660,000 Singapore Dollars on education in total.
In the same report, WEF has placed Finland in the second position. This success of Finland can be attributed to the amount of focus they put on hiring qualified professionals from the field of education. Individuals who take up teaching as a profession are required to earn a master’s degree in education. Netherlands ranks 3rd in the same list and the reason for its good performance and the excellence of its education system lies in the various initiatives take by its government. One such reason can be noted from the year 2000 when the Dutch Government published a policy document “Education in Place: Power and Creativity for the Knowledge Society.”
This Document focused on extending a helping hand to the pupils who struggled in schools. The government also took up initiatives to improve policies at the grassroots as well [National Centre on Education and The Economy]. The next position in the list is held by Switzerland which spends rigorously on education. The success of Switzerland can be noted in the fact that 86% of its 25-64 year olds have attained full secondary education. Here to it is the government’s expenditure that has been one of the factors in improving the statistics for the country.
“The country spends an average of £12,500 ($16,000) per student per year”. Belgium too features on the list and the reason for this are the high salaries that the profession of teaching entails in the country. By now we have looked at both kinds of countries from the field of education- the poorly performing countries as well as the best performing ones.
For the poor performers, the reasons are more or less based on the amount of financial burden that education brings with it similarly, the disrupted student teacher ratios, and the lack of expenditure in the sector on part of the government. On the other hand if we look at the best performers in this area then we can note that it is exactly the same issues which have been countered in the best performing countries. This tells us that the issues faced by any country in the field of education are very much evitable. If policies focus on education, then anything can change.
-Contributed by Richa Bhatt
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