New Zealand takes top spot in international report on preparing students for the future

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New Zealand has taken out the top spot in an international report judging how well education systems prepare students for the future.

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Source: Breakfast

The inaugural index created by The Economist Intelligence Unit assessed 35 economies around the world, focusing on their policy environment, teaching environment and socio-economic environment.

The index ranked New Zealand 88.9 out of 100, taking first place overall and best teaching environment, with Canada just over two points behind, and Finland, Switzerland and Singapore completing the top five.

Singapore pipped New Zealand for first place in education policy environment and Finland placed ahead of New Zealand as best socio-economic environment.

Iran was the worst-ranked economy at 35th place for having an education system that prepares students for a changing landscape in the future.

Indonesia was ranked in 34th, just ahead of Egypt, Nigeria and China in the lowest five.

The study said it's vital education has adapted to prepare children for careers that exist in an ageing population, with increased urbanisation and disruption to the workforce from technological advances.

New Zealand ranked poorly in one indicator, placed 19th for teacher salary based on the average high school teacher salary.

The report suggests that an increase in government funding would boost teaching through raising wages and prestige for the profession.

Education Minister Nikki Kaye said in a statement that teachers' salaries are increasing in New Zealand and the gap between what teachers earn in New Zealand and the average salary for tertiary educated adults is one of the smallest in the OECD.

The report says there are two aspects to our country's success in educating students for skills necessary in the future.

The small size and remoteness of the country engrains an understanding and proactiveness that the nation needs to be globally competitive in all instances, it states.

"We naturally think a bit global, and that has impacted our thinking about technology and 21st century skills," Ms Kaye said.

She said the report validates that New Zealand is world-leading in this area.

The index says developing skills for the future in multiple areas of the education system in New Zealand, including technology, teaching, curriculum and collaboration with external technological industries, is also key to our success in the assessment.

It also notes that Ms Kaye reports 98 per cent of New Zealand schools are connected to fast and uncapped broadband connections funded by the government.

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