Where in the world are teachers most respected? Asia
Seven Asian countries are in the top 10 of the Global Teacher Status Index 2018. Source: Shutterstock

The teaching profession probably isn’t celebrated enough around the world.

Aside from maybe a cursory “Happy Teacher’s Day” message on their social media page or a “thank you” note after the end of a term, how much do we really fete those in the teaching profession?

This doesn’t seem to be the case in many parts of Asia, however.

According to a study done at the National Economic and Social Research in collaboration with the Varkey foundation, Asian countries tend to hold teachers in much higher regard when compared to other parts of the world.

Most notably, China, Malaysia and Taiwan snagged the top three positions in the study, called the Global Teacher Status Index 2018 (GTSI 2018). In fact, Asian countries took nearly all top 10 positions in the index, an international survey to assess the role that social status plays in the position of teachers in each country.

Teachers in these countries were found to be highly respected and well-regarded, a factor to consider for those who wish to teach abroad.

Other Asian countries in the top 10 list are Indonesia (No. 5), South Korea (No. 6), Indian (No. 8), and Singapore (No. 10).

According to a BBC report, the study is a follow-up to similar research on attitudes to teaching five years ago. It was based on a survey of 35,000 people, the general public.

Teacher giving a lesson to Chinese children in Sichuan Province. China is No.1 on the list for highest regard and respect for teachers. Source: Shutterstock

The results of the survey are presented in five sections: teacher status and the computation of the GTSI 2018; teaching as an occupation; teachers’ earnings and working hours; a more rounded and implicit look at status and the GTSI and how it relates to GTSI 2013; and understanding the Key Relationships between GTSI 2018, teacher pay, and pupil PISA outcomes.

Sunny Varkey, founder of the foundation, said, “This index finally gives academic proof to something that we’ve always instinctively known – the link between the status of teachers in society and the performance of children in school.”

“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.”

In China, the survey found that 81 percent of people believed that pupils respect their teachers, compared with the international average of 36 percent.

On the other end of the index are Brazil, Israel, and Italy, where teachers are held in the lowest regard or social standing.

The report stated that the pupils in the top 10, such as China and Singapore, are also top performers on international tests.

Therefore, researchers suggest that a well-regarded and respect profession such as teaching attracts talented and dedicated staff, which go hand-in-hand with high standards.

Another question on the survey which looked at the perceived status of teaching, was posed at asking if people saw teaching as a desirable career for their children.

In China, India, and Ghana, the number of those who said they would encourage their children to pursue a career in teaching was incredibly high.

However, answers from those surveys in Russia, Israel, and Japan suggested that parents actively discourage children from becoming teachers.

Teacher teaching to Indian rural school students in classroom. In India, parents encourage their children to become teachers as it is a highly respected profession. Source: Shutterstock

The results from the survey also showed that the public underestimated the length of teachers’ working hours, in most of the countries examined, even in Panama or Egypt, which had some of the shortest hours.

Varkey said, “When we conducted the Global Teacher Status Index five years ago we were alarmed by the weight of evidence pointing to the low status of teachers around the world. It was this that inspired us to create the Global Teacher Prize, which shines a light on the extraordinary work that teachers do around the world.”

“It’s heartening that since the first Global Teacher Status Index there has been a modest rise in the status of teachers globally. But there is still a mountain to climb before teachers everywhere are given the respect they deserve. After all, they’re responsible for shaping the future.”

Here’s the list of top 10 countries:

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

The full Global Teacher Status Index 2018 report is available online here.

Liked this? Then you’ll love…

The teaching profession is in crisis – so where do we go from here?

Teaching English and teaching through English: Two global trends