Finland is a leader in providing future skills education for youths, according to the 2019 Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (Weffi) released recently by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
The unit is a British business within the Economist Group, providing forecasting and advisory services through research and analysis.
Sweden, meanwhile, has improved its position from fourth place to second, while New Zealand remains third.
The index, in its third edition, assesses the extent to which education systems around the world are equipping youths aged 15 to 24 with creativity, entrepreneurship, communication and collaboration. It measures three pillars — policy approaches, teaching conditions, and broader gauges of societal freedom and openness — as a means of readying young people to meet future challenges.
Some countries have significantly improved, with Peru rising 10 places from 34th to 24th, and Indonesia rising from 43rd to 28th.
Among developed countries, the United Kingdom and the United States demonstrated a decline, falling from 10th and 18th, respectively, in 2018 to 15th and 22nd last year.
Themed “From Policy to Practice”, the white paper of the index is commissioned by the Yidan Prize Foundation.
Weffi report editor Georgia McCafferty said while more economies had incorporated the future skills agenda into their education policies over the past two years, the implementation was weak in many nations.
“Progress in adapting assessment frameworks, quality assurance frameworks and teacher training, all need to accelerate.
“The recent rise of nativism and populism in some quarters of the world, along with a rejection of globalisation, makes the need
for students to develop future-oriented skills, like critical thinking and analysis, even more urgent to combat these forces,” McCafferty added.
The report said the need to develop future skills has become more vital than ever, given the advances in technology and artificial intelligence. Several countries, including Finland, Sweden and New Zealand, are embracing this challenge by formulating comprehensive policies, providing well-trained teachers and strongly assessing their frameworks to test for future skills.
A new income-adjusted ranking also showed that many poor countries, including the Philippines, Ghana, Mexico and Vietnam, are performing well with specific strengths in their policy and teaching environments.
Weffi surveyed 50 economies, representing 93 per cent of the global gross domestic product, 88 per cent of the world population and 81 per cent of the world youth.