A global school league table from the OECD has put Asian nations in the top five spots, with Singapore taking the prime position and Hong Kong in the second place.
The UK is in 20th place, among higher achieving European countries, while the US was ranked 28, BBC reported.
Comparisons, based on test scores in 76 countries, show the link between education and economic growth, according to OECD, a Paris-based economic think tank.
“This is the first time we have a truly global scale of the quality of education,” OECD’s education director Andreas Schleicher was quoted as saying.
“The idea is to give more countries, rich and poor, access to comparing themselves against the world’s education leaders, to discover their relative strengths and weaknesses, and to see what the long-term economic gains from improved quality in schooling could be for them,” he said.
The analysis, based on test scores in math and science, is a much wider global map of education standards than the OECD’s Pisa tests, which focus on more affluent industrialized countries, the report noted.
The top performer, Singapore, had high levels of illiteracy into the 1960s. Its top position now shows how much progress nations can make with the right effort, Schleicher said.
In the UK, the study shows about one in five youngsters leave school without reaching a basic level of education.
Ghana was placed at the bottom of the school rankings in the OECD list.
The findings will be formally presented at the World Education Forum in South Korea next week, where the United Nations is to convene a conference on targets for raising global education by 2030.
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