Finland leads for the second year globally in providing future-skills education for youth, according to the 2019 Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 

Finland’s universal future skills strength across all index pillars including policy and teaching environment and access to technology see it retain its lead among 50 economies in the third edition of the , produced by The Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by the Yidan Prize Foundation

Sweden and New Zealand ranked second and third, with Sweden advancing two places and New Zealand maintaining its third position from 2018’s results

The Philippines, Ghana and Mexico all performed strongly among a new income-adjusted ranking due to their ability to channel their more limited resources to implement strong policy and advance a future skills agenda

Among the world’s largest economies, the US, UK, France and Russia all fell in their rankings while China, India and Indonesia advanced their scores

The Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 2019: Top ten economies

Consensus on the need to adopt future-focused approaches to education has grown in countries globally but implementation of policy to make such changes remains the largest challenge to preparing students for the challenges that await them in work and society according to a new report released today by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). 

Themed “From Policy to Practice”, the white paper is commissioned by the Yidan Prize Foundation and based on the findings of the third annual Worldwide Educating for the Future Index. With a focus on young people aged 15-24 in 50 economies, it measures three pillars of education systems—policy approaches, teaching conditions and broader gauges of societal freedom and openness—as a means of readying young people to meet the challenges of work and society in future. It remains the only major ranking to assess inputs to education systems and stands in contrast to measures like the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, which looks at exam-like outputs.

The report shows that the need to develop future skills like critical thinking, creativity, entrepreneurship and analysis is more vital than ever given the continuing advances in technology and artificial intelligence. A number of countries, including Finland, Sweden and New Zealand, are embracing this education challenge through comprehensive policies, well-trained teachers and strong assessment frameworks to test for future skills. A new income adjusted ranking also showed that many lower-income countries, including the Philippines, Ghana, Mexico and Vietnam, are also performing well with particular strengths in their policy and teaching environments. 

The Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 2019: Income-adjusted ranks

Among developed countries, the UK and the US demonstrated notable ranking declines, falling from 10th and 18th respectively in 2018 to 15th and 22nd in 2019. With Brexit coming to dominate the political agenda in the UK and a decentralised education system weakening national policy objectives in the US, inattention to education is beginning to have a significant impact, as reflected in falls in the education policy environment in these countries.

“The third edition of the index shows that while more economies have incorporated the future skills agenda into their education policies over the past two years, policy implementation still remains weak in many nations,” Georgia McCafferty, editor of the report said. “Progress in adapting assessment frameworks, quality assurance frameworks and teacher training all need to accelerate.”]

“The recent rise of nativism and populism in some quarters of the world, along with a rejection of globalisation, makes the need for students develop future-oriented skills like critical thinking and analysis even more urgent in order for them to combat these forces,” she added.

The Worldwide Educating for the Future Index 2019 assesses the extent to which education systems are equipping youth aged 15-24 with the skills needed in future. It covers 50 economies representing 93% of global GDP, 88% of the global population and 81% of the global youth population. The economies were selected for balance across multiple factors, including income levels, population size, youth populations and geographic representation. The index includes 20 indicators and 57 sub-indicators across three thematic categories: policy environment, teaching environment and socio-economic environment. A full explanation of the methodology can be found in the appendix of the report.

About The Economist Intelligence Unit

The EIU is the thought leadership, research and analysis division of The Economist Group and the world leader in global business intelligence for executives. We uncover novel and forward-looking perspectives with access to over 650 expert analysts and editors across 200 countries worldwide. 

About the Yidan Prize Foundation

Founded in 2016 by Dr Charles CHEN Yidan, a core founder of Tencent, the Yidan Prize has a mission of creating a better world through education. It consists of two awards, the Yidan Prize for Education Research and the Yidan Prize for Education Development. Yidan Prize Laureates each receives a gold medal and a total sum of HK$30m, half of which is a cash prize while the other half is a project fund. To ensure transparency and sustainability, the prize is managed by Yidan Prize Foundation and governed by an independent trust with an endowment of HK$2.5bn. Through a series of initiatives, the prize aims to establish a platform for the global community to engage in conversation around education and to play a role in education philanthropy.

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