10/03/2013 08:35 am ET Updated Oct 14, 2013

These Countries Respect Teachers The Most, New Survey Finds


We may leave our children with them every day, but do we actually respect them?

A new survey released Wednesday by the Varkey Gems Foundation -- a group that seeks to improve education for underprivileged youth -- looked at how citizens around the world view the social standing of teachers.

The study, which surveyed thousands of respondents from 21 countries, aimed to determine, in part: Where are teachers respected?


The results were mixed. While in some countries like China and South Korea, teachers are viewed in high esteem, in places like Israel, a majority of respondents said they did not trust teachers to deliver quality education to students. The United States, however, fell squarely in the middle, with most respondents indicating they thought teachers were paid too much. In addition, American survey respondents held primary school teachers in higher regard than secondary school teachers.

The writers of the survey advocate a worldwide elevation of the status of teachers -– a sentiment we can get behind.

“If we want future generations to have the right values and the best life chances … we need to recruit the best and brightest teachers into the profession, and look at the ways in which we can retain them,” Sunny Varkey, the chairman of the foundation, writes in the survey forward.

Varkey also pointedly says that teachers should be held in the same regard as widely respected professionals like doctors -– a feat only China accomplished, according to the survey.

The results come just days before World Teachers’ Day on Oct. 5, a day dedicated to celebrating educators. From the looks of the survey, it seems like a day many countries direly need to recognize.

Below, we have replicated the Varkey Gems Foundation’s teacher status rankings:

  • 21 Israel
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    While most Israelis reportedly like their education system, they do not trust their teachers to properly deliver it.
  • 20 Brazil
    Brazil respondents felt that most students do not respect their teachers, although they trusted teachers to deliver a good education.
  • 19 Czech Republic
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  • 18 Italy
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  • 17 Japan
  • 16 Germany
    While German respondents showed moderate levels of respect for secondary school teachers, they did not feel the same way about primary school teachers.
  • 15 Switzerland
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  • 14 Portugal
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  • 13 Finland
  • 12 Spain
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    Spain respondents showed moderate levels of respect for teachers, reporting that they generally trust teachers to deliver a good education,
  • 11 France
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  • 10 United Kingdom
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  • 9 United States of America
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    In the United States, many respondents said they thought teachers were paid too much.
  • 8 Netherlands
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  • 7 Singapore
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  • 6 Egypt
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    Respondents for the Varkey Gems Foundation survey had low levels for trust in teachers.
  • 5 New Zealand
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  • 4 South Korea
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  • 3 Turkey
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  • 2 Greece
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  • 1 China
    In China, teachers are held in the same esteem as doctors.