Education and Skills

This is where teachers are most (and least) respected

Toothbrushes and toothpaste are seen in cups in front of a blackboard bearing Chinese characters which read: "My heart stays. My alma mater, teachers, goodbye" which were left by the previous students inside their dormitory at Yangguang primary school in Feidong county, Anhui province August 31, 2011. Founded in 2006, the school was the first civilian-run boarding school for "leftover children" whose parents left their hometown to earn a living. It currently has 10 teachers and a total of 303 students from the age of 3 to 14, local media reported. Picture taken August 31, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: EDUCATION SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - GM1E7910Z8601

China holds teachers in highest regard, according to the Global Teacher Status Index 2018. Image: Reuters

Johnny Wood
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A new study by the Varkey Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that aims to improve education for underprivileged children, gauges how respected teachers are in 35 economies around the world.

For its Global Teacher Status Index 2018, the organization asked over 1,000 people in each economy for their views on the profession, and ranked them on a 0-100 scale.

The findings reveal that teachers enjoy the highest status in China, where they score a perfect 100. The profession is also held in high regard in Malaysia.

But teachers in Japan, which has a score of below 40, are much less respected than their peers in the other Asian economies surveyed.

The situation is far worse, however, in Brazil and Israel, where the teaching profession gets status marks of just 1 and 6.5 respectively.

The status of teachers in the top- and bottom-ranked countries hasn’t changed much since the Varkey Foundation published its last index in 2013.

Japan’s and Switzerland’s scores increased by over 20 from the 2013 edition, and the UK’s rose by 10. Greece, however, experienced a drop of 25.

A matter of respect

As well as highlighting diverse national attitudes towards the teaching profession, the survey also identified general trends across the 35 economies:

  • Older people respect teachers more
  • Graduates respect teachers more than non-graduates
  • Men respect teachers more than women
  • Parents respect teachers more than people without children
  • Those of Islamic faith respect teachers more

Where kids are encouraged to become teachers

The survey asked parents if they would encourage their children to aspire to become teachers. Those in India, China, Ghana and Malaysia are most likely to encourage their kids to pursue a teaching career.

Surprisingly, in the US – where teachers’ pay is significantly lower than that of comparable college-educated professionals – a high number of parents are keen for their children to become teachers.

The survey showed high levels of pessimism about student attitudes in Europe, with respondents believing more pupils disrespected their teachers than respected them. The outlook was more positive in Asia, Africa and the Middle East – 80% of respondents in China thought students respected their teachers, against a 36% country average.

In the coming years, teachers will play an important role in preparing young people for the technological advances of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, from the Internet of Things, to artificial intelligence and robotics.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2018 says that workers whose jobs are displaced by automation will need help to retrain or upskill.

But the rapid changes to the labour market are likely to bring challenges for educators, too. The report points to the need for investment in improved education and training systems, along with new labour market policies and business approaches, capable of meeting the needs of the future of work.

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Related topics:
Education and SkillsGeographies in DepthEmerging Technologies
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