Teachers wishing to enjoy a high stature in society should move to China, Malaysia or Taiwan, as these are the countries that give most respect to teachers and the teaching profession.

The findings were highlighted by an international survey by Varkey GEMS Foundation that was initiated to find out the status of teachers across the globe and to pinpoint the countries where they enjoyed the highest levels of public esteem.

The survey included questions about how teaching was seen as a profession in comparison to others, whether parents encouraged their children to become teachers and what should be the average pay or salary of a teacher. From the responses, the researchers developed a “Global Teacher Status Index”, which ranked countries on the basis of public perceptions about teachers.

China led the rankings, as teachers there enjoyed the highest social ranking – with 81 percent respondents believing that students showed reverence towards their teachers, in comparison to an international average of 36 percent. According to the survey, Brazil, Israel and Italy were at the bottom of the Teacher Status Index, while teaching profession was held in higher regards in UK than in France, Germany and the US.

Higher levels of pessimism about students’ respect for teachers were indicated in South America and Europe, whereas a culture of respect was stronger in Asian countries, including Singapore and South Korea. Pupils hailing from Asian countries were also ranked as the highest performers in international tests.

Furthermore, the findings indicated higher proportions of families in China, India and Ghana encouraged their children to pick teaching as a professional career choice. However, parents in countries like Russia, Israel and Japan discouraged their children from stepping into this profession.

Respondents from majority of countries miscalculated the average working hours of teachers – whether it was New Zealand which had the longest working hours or Panama and Egypt having the lowest. The only exceptions were Canada and Finland – where people thought their professors were working more than the hours they were actually working.

Sunny Varkey, the founder of the Varkey 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 outcome.”

This research was a follow-up study to a similar research that was conducted on attitudes towards teaching five years back.  Some of the biggest differences between the two studies was a shift of opinion pertaining to teacher performance to pay and support towards linking teachers’ pay to results, which declined considerably between 2013 and 2018 in almost all the major countries of the world.

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