Teacher Respect Blog

Which countries respect teachers the most (and least)?

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British teachers get more respect than colleagues in the US, France and Germany, according to an international survey.

Teachers in China, Malaysia and Taiwan enjoy the highest status, but teachers in Brazil, Israel and Italy are languishing at the tail end of the “teacher status index”. 

The study, by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and the Varkey Foundation, polled 35,000 people in 35 countries, and found UK teachers fared better than average – but not as well as teachers in China, where a staggering 81% of respondents said they believed pupils respected their teachers. The international average was just 36%.

Respondents in Europe and South America showed “generally higher levels of pessimism” about whether students respected teachers, the study said. Asia, including countries like South Korea and Singapore, was found to have a stronger “culture of respect”. 

Students in Asian countries also tend to score top marks in international tests, suggesting that the extra respect afforded to teachers in these countries is attracting talented staff as well as attentive pupils.

The survey also assessed teachers’ perceived status by asking respondents if they would encourage their own children to go into the teaching profession.

For respondents in China, India and Ghana, the answer was a resounding yes, but in some countries a majority said they would actively discourage their children from becoming teachers. These included Russia, Israel, and Japan, proving Asian countries aren’t a monolith when it comes to attitudes to teaching.

Respondents in most countries underestimated teachers’ working hours, but in Canada and Finland, two of the highest-achieving education systems, people thought teachers were working more hours than they actually were.

The study followed a similar poll five years ago, and revealed a major shift in attitudes around linking teachers’ pay to students’ results. Support for performance-related pay in the UK had dropped from 74% to 34%, while Finland saw an even bigger volte-face, going from 80% to 21%.

The poll was published by the Varkey Foundation, which awards the Global Teacher Prize to raise the profile of teaching. Founder Sunny Varkey said, “Now we can say beyond doubt that respecting teachers isn’t only an important moral duty – it’s essential for a country’s educational outcomes.”

Top 10 countries that respect teachers

1. China
2. Malaysia
3. Taiwan
4. Russia
5. Indonesia
6. South Korea
7. Turkey
8. India
9. New Zealand
10. Singapore

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