The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Where in the world are teachers most respected? Not in the U.S., a new survey shows.


Where in the world are teachers respected?

According to the just-released 2018 Global Teacher Status Index, the countries that most respect their teachers are China and Malaysia. In both countries, the teaching profession is seen as on par with doctors. The United States doesn’t fare especially well in the index, which was created by the Varkey Foundation, a nonprofit global charitable organization.

The foundation surveyed people in 35 countries, an increase from the 21 surveyed five years ago, and looked at a number of measures that went into its teacher status index, including social standing of teachers, how well teachers are respected in relation to other professions, what people think teachers should be paid, and whether parents would encourage their children to be teachers.

The top five, on an index of 100, were China (100), Malaysia (93.3), (Taiwan, 70.2), Russia (65), and Indonesia (62.1). At the bottom of the scale were Argentina (23.6), Ghana (18.9), Italy (13.6), Israel (6.6) and Brazil (1). The United States was 16th with a ranking of 39.7.

Those who were surveyed, including members of the general public and teachers, were asked to rank, by level of respect, 14 professions, including doctor, nurse, lawyer, librarian, local government manager, social worker, accountant, police officer, engineer, accountant, management consultant and website engineer. The average respect ranking for a teacher was seventh across the 35 nations. However, U.S. respondents ranked secondary school teachers far lower, the 12th lowest of all the countries included in the survey.

In most of the countries, the social status of teachers was seen as most similar to that of social workers. In the United States, respondents equated the role of teachers to that of librarians. In China and Malaysia, teachers were compared to doctors.

But, interestingly, teachers in the United States think the status of their profession is lower than the general public does, according to the index. Teachers who were polled set their status level at 37.1 out of 100, while the general public put it at 48.7 out of 100.

The report says that there are significant contrasts among the 35 countries about the extent to which parents would encourage younger generations to become teachers. More than half of parents in China, India, Ghana and Malaysia provide “positive encouragement"; less than 8 percent do so in Israel and Russia. In the United States, 42 percent of parents would encourage their children to go into the teaching profession, the index said, even though Americans think teachers are underpaid.

Here is a chart showing the countries that were polled, as well as their ranking on the global index, along with teacher salaries, and their ranking with respect to the scores of the international test known as PISA, or Program for International Student Assessment, which tests 15-year-old students in reading, math and science every three years.

Here is the full report:

Here’s the data on the United States: