The Yidan Prize Foundation (YPF) released the Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 2019, which was founded by YPF and which commissioned the Economist Intelligence Unit for its production. The latest report shows that Finland topped the index among 50 economies, with its well-established education system and excellent performance in cultivating ‘future capabilities’.
The WEFFI aims to measure and compare the effectiveness of different education systems in different economies on preparing its students for future demands, so as to promote interaction among policymakers and execution of policies. Its ultimate goal is to create an environment where students can develop better.
According to the WEFFI 2019, the future skills that students need to develop include critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, collaboration, creativity, as well as technical and digital skills. The index scores different economies from three dimensions, including policy environment, teaching environment and socioeconomic environment. The 50 economies assessed in 2019 account for 81.3% of global youth aged 15 to 24 and 88.3% of the world’s population overall.
“Critical thinking and creativity are needed to solve problems relating to data and technology, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning approaches should incorporate those,” said Anthony Salcito, Microsoft Vice President of Worldwide Education.
Finland remained at the apex of the WEFFI 2019, Sweden being runner-up and New Zealand at third. In Asia, Singapore ranked fourth while Japan at tenth.
Finland has been a global leader in cultivating ‘future capabilities’ by incorporating the concepts of using information and information technology in their curriculum, which emphasizes the use of phenomenon-based learning in upper secondary education – an approach that focuses on strengthening critical thinking. The new curriculum has an additional focus on civic education and global awareness.
The Finnish education system has ensured its teaching of ‘future capabilities’ is a success. Primary and secondary education is free, and higher education free for Finnish and those from the European Economic Area. The initial government funding of education per upper secondary student as a percentage of GDP per capita is 21.7%, while the rate for tertiary student is 34.6%.
Singapore topped among Asian economies. “Singapore has made great strides in introducing technical skills such as programming into primary and secondary level education. It is the logic that comes with programming, the ability to reason, that is important. In the future economy, employers will prioritize not programming but adaptive skills such as critical thinking, creativity and sociability,” said Derrick Chang, CEO of the PSB Academy.
Japan ranked tenth in the WEFFI 2019. Similar to Finland, Japan also emphasizes the cultivation of ‘future capabilities’, so that Japanese students performed well in mathematics, science and reading. Forward-looking methods such as problem-based learning are also adopted centrally in this country, and the school’s performance is monitored through the centrally organized high school aptitude test. Infrastructure is continuously upgraded to meeting changing demand, and broadband internet will cover all schools by 2022.
In addition, the WEFFI 2019 shows that many developing countries, such as the Philippines and Mexico have invested resources to reform education so as to meet future demands, despite the state of their economic development. In the income-adjusted ranking, the Philippines and Mexico rose to second and fifth, showing the advances made by them in their approach to future skills education.
For more details of the WEFFI 2019, please visit: https://educatingforthefuture.economist.com