Home / Education / The Best and Worst Performing Countries for Education

The Best and Worst Performing Countries for Education: Have you ever wondered which countries rank the highest and lowest for education, and what contributes to their rank? There are many different systems for ranking education quality and student performance, but two of the most comprehensive are The Legatum Prosperity Index and The PISA 2015 Test.

The Legatum Prosperity Index is an annual ranking system that ranks countries based on multiple factors, such as economy, health and education. PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) is an ongoing global study that measures student performance at 15-years-old.

Read on to discover more about the best and worst countries for education, based on these two ranking systems…


The Best Performing Countries for Education

Which country did The Legatum Prosperity Index Vote top?

Which country voted top Click to Flip
Finland Top



The Legatum Prosperity Index

Out of 149, the top five countries for education, according to The Legatum Prosperity Index, are:

  • Finland
  • Switzerland
  • Singapore
  • Norway
  • Netherlands

Of the top five countries for education, at least three countries also rank in the top 20 for each measurement pillar in the Index:

  • Economic Quality
  • Business Environment
  • Governance
  • Health
  • Safety & Security
  • Personal Freedom
  • Social Capital
  • Natural Environment


The PISA 2015 Test

Out of 70, the top five countries for performance in science, reading and mathematics, according to PISA 2015, are:

  • Singapore
  • Japan
  • Estonia
  • Chinese Taipei
  • Finland

All five countries had amongst the highest percentage of top performers and lowest percentage of low achievers. Of the top performing countries included within other PISA testing criteria, at least half performed above average in:

  • Student Truancy Rates (Japan, Chinese Taipei, Singapore)


  • Grade Repetition (Chinese Taipei, Finland, Estonia, Singapore – Japan not included)


  • Life Satisfaction (Chinese Taipei, Japan – Singapore not included)


For collaborative problem solving and collaboration, four of the best countries ranked in the top 10, with Chinese Taipei ranked as 11th.


The Worst Performing Countries for Education

The Legatum Prosperity Index

According to The Legatum Prosperity Index, the worst five countries for education, starting with the lowest performing, are:

  • Niger
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Mali
  • Afghanistan

At least three of these countries rank in the bottom 20 for every measurement pillar, with the exception of natural environment.

correlation between environment and quality of education

correlation between environment and quality of education

The PISA 2015 Test

Starting with the lowest performing, these are the bottom five countries for performance in science, reading and mathematics, according to PISA 2015:

  • Dominican Republic
  • Algeria
  • Kosovo
  • North Macedonia (FYROM)
  • Tunisia

All five countries performed below average in every subject and had amongst the lowest percentage of top performers and highest percentage of low achievers. However, all five countries ranked as above average for enjoyment in learning science, and all but Tunisia ranked above average for expectation of a science related career. This is in stark contrast to the top five countries, where only Singapore and Estonia had above average enjoyment of learning science.

Many of the lowest ranked countries have no additional data, although Tunisia was ranked as below average in grade repetition and school truancy, but above average for life satisfaction.

Tunisia above average for life satisfaction


What Does the Data Reveal About the Best and Worst Countries for Education?

Both ranking systems provide a wealth of information on why some countries have a higher education performance. The Legatum Prosperity Index data shows that there’s a clear correlation between the environment in a country and education quality. Poor rankings for health care, economic opportunity, social norms, and democracy, amongst many other factors, generally indicate that a country will have poor education quality.

From the PISA 2015 results, countries performing poorly in one area of education are also generally performing poorly in other areas as well. There’s also a clear link between education performance and other school behaviours, like truancy percentage and grade repetition.

However, as demonstrated by the high levels of enjoyment in science learning from the lowest ranking countries, and the reverse in high performing countries, there’s no such link between performance and enjoyment.


You may also wish to read:

The Industrial Revolution and Its Comparisons to Today


There’s a Place For Independent Schools



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest