Pic: AP.

South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong have the best education systems in the world, according to a new global league table. The latest international comparison puts the  four Asian countries at the top of the ranking ahead of traditional education heavy hitters such as Finland, Germany and the UK.

Finland – last year’s leader – rounded out the top five.

“The success of these countries highlights the importance of having clear goalposts for the educational system and a strong culture of accountability among all stakeholders,” the Pearson report states.

Outside Asia, the UK scored well to take sixth place, while the rapidly improving standard of education in Poland earned it a spot in the top 10. The US and Australia were ranked 14th and 15th respectively.

Asian countries’ dominance of this latest listing reflects a growing trend. While well-established universities in the US and UK still hold the fort on the major higher education rankings, their younger Asian counterparts are gaining ground fast.

Universities in South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore topped Times Higher Education’s recently published ’Top 100 Under 50 ranking’, accounting for four of the top five universities between them. Asian countries also dominated the Pisa scores released in December.

While the comparison was another boon for Asia’s more developed economies, developing countries in the region faired poorly. The next highest Asian country to make the ranking was Thailand at 35th. Indonesia took the last place in the list of 40. The absence of any other Asian country on the list reflects poorly on the overall state of education in the region.

Pearson’s the ‘Learning Curve’ comparison was compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, based an amalgamation of international tests and education data – including the OECD’s Pisa tests, and two major US-based studies, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (Timss) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls).

Top 20 Education Systems
1. South Korea
2. Japan
3. Singapore
4. Hong Kong
5. Finland
6. UK
7. Canada
8. Netherlands
9. Ireland
10. Poland
11. Denmark
12. Germany
13. Russia
14. United States
15. Australia
16. New Zealand
17. Israel
18. Belgium
19. Czech Republic
20. Switzerland