The UAE has been ranked the highest in the GCC region and 45 worldwide in a global school rankings list compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The list, which is based on test scores in maths and science among 15-year-olds in 76 countries, highlights the link between education and economic growth.
Andreas Schleicher, OECD’s education director said: “This is the first time we have a truly global scale of the quality of education.
“The idea is to give more countries, rich and poor, access to comparing themselves against the world’s education leaders, to discover their relative strengths and weaknesses, and to see what the long-term economic gains from improved quality in schooling could be for them.”
Globally, Singapore topped the rankings, followed by Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Western nations such as the UK and the US ranked 20 and 28 respectively. Ghana, South Africa, Honduras, Morocco and Oman rounded off the last five on the list.
Among GCC countries, the UAE was followed by Bahrain (57), Saudi Arabia (66), Qatar (68) and Oman at 71. Kuwait was not ranked.
The study found that in nine of the 76 countries including Qatar, more than two thirds of students fail to meet the basic skills level, while in Singapore, Hong Kong, Estonia and Korea, it is around 10 per cent or less.
The report also stated that if every 15-year-old student in the world reached at least the baseline level of performance by 2030, the benefits for economic growth and sustainable development would be “enormous”.
The GDP growth potential in the UAE has been estimated at 375 per cent, in Bahrain at 789 per cent, in Saudi Arabia at 975 per cent, in Qatar at 1029 per cent and in Oman at 1427 per cent.
The results show that the “quality of schooling in a country is a powerful predictor of the wealth that countries will produce in the long run,” the report said.
“Or, put the other way around, the economic output that is lost because of poor education policies and practices leaves many countries in what amounts to a permanent state of economic recession – and one that can be larger and deeper than the one that resulted from the financial crisis at the beginning of the millennium, out of which many countries are still struggling to climb,” it added.