People more likely to think their education system is poor than good

The first edition of the Ipsos Global Education Monitor looks at people’s attitudes to education and teaching, including a special feature on the role of AI in the classroom.

People across 29 countries are more likely to describe the education system in their country as poor than good, the Ipsos Global Education monitor has found.

However, attitudes vary considerably between countries on how people think their education system is doing.

Singapore and Ireland have the highest proportion of people who are happy with their schools. While Hungary is the least satisfied, with two-thirds describing their education system as poor.

Key findings:

  • Across 29 countries, 33% describe the education system in their country as good, while 36% say it is poor.
  • However, parents of children who are at school are more likely to say it is good than poor.
  • People are more likely to say they would not recommend (45%) becoming a teacher than would (43%).
  • In 28 of the 29 countries surveyed, people tend to agree that having a degree is very important to succeed in life.
  • A third (35%) say they think AI will have positive effect on education, but in some western countries (France, US, Canada) people are more likely to think its impact will be negative.

Attitudes to education

One in three (33%) describe the education system in their country as good, with 36% describing it as poor.

However, looking at a global picture masks big differences between countries and regions. Singapore is the most positive country, with three in four (74%) saying their education system is good, including 27% who say it is very good. Ireland is second with 63% believing it is good and Australia third (57%).

At the other end of spectrum, Hungary is least satisfied with the level of education their students are receiving. Less than one in ten (8%) describe their education system as good and two-thirds (67%) say the standard is poor. Hungary is also the country most likely to say political/ideological bias is one of the biggest challenges facing education.

People in LATAM also have particularly low levels of positivity on the education available in their countries. After Hungary, Peru (10%), Chile (11%) and Argentina (15%) have the lowest number of people in their country who describe the education as good. While other LATAM countries in the survey – Brazil, Colombia, Mexico – have higher levels of satisfaction, people in those countries are more likely to describe their education systems as poor than good.

For many, not only is their country’s education system poor, the standard is declining. Almost one in two (46%) feel the education system in their country is getting worse compared to when they were at school. Three in four (76%) in Argentina say the country’s education is worse now, the highest of all 29 countries.

This sentiment is also particularly strong in Europe. In all but one of the European countries surveyed  people are more likely to say their education system is worse than when they were at school. In Hungary, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Italy more than one in two say this is the case. Ireland is the only one of the European countries surveyed where people believe education is getting better, with 56% saying it is better now than when they were at school.

What do parents think of the education system?

Parents of children who are at school are consistently more positive about the education system in their country than those who do not have children in school. While the global public may not think their education system is performing well, parents are more positive. Four in ten (39%) parents of school age children say education in their country is good compared to a third of parents that describe it as a poor.

They are also more likely to say their education system was better when they were at school compared to those without children in school. Almost one in two (49%) of those who do not have children in school say the education system is worse than when they were a student (24% better), only 41% of parents say the same and 37% say it is better.

While on average people across 29 countries said outdated curriculum was one of the biggest challenges facing schools, parents said unequal access to education was the top worry. Parents are also more likely to cite inadequate infrastructure and insufficient use of technology as challenges.

Parents also feel that education can play a role in reducing inequalities. Fifty-eight per cent of parents think this is the case, while non-parents of school age children are divided on the issue.

Attitudes to teachers

Across 29 countries, people are more likely to say they would not advise someone to become a teacher than say they would. Majorities in six countries – Hungary, Japan, Poland, South Korea, France, Germany – say they would not recommend their children or a young person to take a job teaching.

Asia Pacific is, in general terms, the region where people are most likely to recommend teaching. India (79%), Malaysia (66%), and Indonesia (58%) are the countries where this sentiment is highest.

Across the 29 countries surveyed, there is appreciation for how difficult the job of teaching is with two-thirds (67%) saying teachers work hard. This sentiment is highest in Brazil, the Netherlands and Singapore, with four in five saying this is the case.

In only one country (South Korea) are people more likely to say teachers don’t work hard than do.

While recognising teachers are hardworking, at a global level people are divided whether they get a paid enough. Forty-six per cent say teachers are adequately paid while 46% disagree. Belief teachers get paid enough is highest in India, Singapore, and Malaysia. In Argentina and Hungary three in four say teachers are not adequately paid.

Attitudes to AI in the classroom

People in 29 countries think technology in the classroom, such as AI, will have a more positive affect than negative one.

One in three (35%) think it will be positive while 18% believe it will have a negative impact. Support for AI in the classroom is highest in Indonesia, with 54% saying it will be a positive addition. LATAM is also supportive with many in Argentina (53%), Peru (49%) and Chile (48%) believing it will have a positive effect on learning.

In Canada, US and France, people are more likely to think AI will have a negative impact on schools. In these countries, people are also more likely to think AI should be banned in schools.

However, on average, people across 29 countries do not think AI should be banned from the classroom. More than four in ten (42%) think it should not be banned, while 29% do. Turkey (59%) and Malaysia (54%) are the countries most against a ban.

While people are more split on attitudes to AI and its role in the lives of students, there is more agreement that teachers should receive training on it.

Two-thirds across 29 countries think teachers should get training on how to use AI in their teaching methods, and seven in ten feel teachers should be showing students to use AI and receive training on how to spot whether students are using AI in school papers.


Attitudes among generations to education

Looking at people across different age groups attitudes to education, older people are more likely to think the education system is worse than when they were at school. The longer since people were at school the most likely to say school is worse today than when they studied. Fifty-seven per cent of Baby Boomers say that this is case and only one in four (25%) say it is better today. Forty-nine per cent of Gen X and 38% of Millennials think today’s education is worse than when they were at school.

Gen Z, the youngest generation surveyed, were more likely to say the education system was better today than when they were at school. Thirty-five per cent say it is better today and 30% worse.

Older people were the most likely to think schools do not contribute to reducing social inequalities. Forty-five per cent of baby boomers felt this was the case, while 46% thought they do.

The other generations were less divided with 55% of Millennials and 54% of Gen Z saying education can contribute to reducing inequalities.

While all age groups are more likely to feel AI should not be banned in schools, this feeling declines the older someone is. One in two (50%) Gen Z think it should not be banned and 35% of Baby Boomers feel this way.

About the study

These are the findings of a 29-country Ipsos survey conducted June 23 – July 7, 2023, among 23,248 adults aged 21-74 in Indonesia and Singapore, 20-74 in Thailand, 18-74 in the United States, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, and 16-74 in other countries, via Ipsos’s Global Advisor online survey platform.