Four cities in Europe have over 50% of very satisfied inhabitants with educational facilities

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Education is the foundation for successful communities. In other words, it is crucial for the socioeconomic development of the cities. The highly-skilled workforce goes hand in hand with the overall productivity, innovation and competitiveness. Furthermore, education is more than just “schooling” and should always be every city’s top priority. The economic vitality of the cities and nations depend on investments in children and families – their education, health, safety and financial stability.

In February 2021, a Council Resolution on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training towards the European Education Area and beyond (2021-2030) was adopted. It expands the previous strategies and is focused on improving the quality, equity, inclusion and success for everyone in education and training. It also supports green and digital transitions and wants to make lifelong learning and mobility a reality for all, along with the reinforcement of the tertiary education.

According to Statista’s data for 2020, around 90% of the world’s population had completed a primary education, 66% had finished a secondary education, while only 40% have attained some kind of tertiary education, most of which were women. 

The Eurostat 2020 statistics say that more than 40 % of the 25-34 year-olds in the EU had completed tertiary education. 81% of the 25–54 year-olds in the EU had completed at least an upper secondary level of education, compared with 67 % of those aged 55 to 74.

The highest share of 25-34 year-olds with completed tertiary education has Luxembourg (slightly more than 60%), while Ireland, Cyprus and Lithuania score a little below aforementioned percentage. The only other country which has more than half of inhabitants aged 25-34 with completed tertiary education is the Netherlands. The overall EU target by 2030 is to have 45% tertiary educated inhabitants in the age range 25-34.

Europe is also home to the best University in the world: Oxford University. According to THE (Times Higher Education), Oxford made an overall score of 95,7. It is followed by California Institute of Technology and Harvard University which both scored 95.

When talking about the quality of primary education, according to the Statista 2017 data, Finland had the highest quality of it in the world, with the index score of 6,7 out of 7. The other top five countries are Switzerland, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Estonia.

In Europe, most children start with their compulsory education at the age of 6 or 7. There are several exceptions, such as France or Hungary where the children’s compulsory education already starts at the age of 3.

European countries have different education systems, but the most successful ones of the future will be those who will rapidly adapt to new technologies and access to digital infrastructure.This was reflected mostly during the coronavirus pandemic when Estonia showed their preparedness and how digitized the country is. The Estonian switch to online teaching methods was extremely rapid. While most countries had serious problems in switching to this online education system, Estonia didn’t have any problems because 99% of schools had already been using some type of e-solutions even prior to the pandemic.

Estonia believes in equal access to technology for creating a better education system which is why all students have access to technology and information regardless of their ethnicity, socio-economic status, age, physical ability or any other qualification. All Estonian students can learn from their smart devices, no matter where they are, as long as they have a good internet connection. 91% of Estonian secondary schools have access to Wi-Fi, while the overall European average is just 67%.

In 2019, Eurostat conducted a perception survey regarding citizens’ satisfaction with schools and other educational facilities in their cities. A total of 103 European cities participated in the survey. The city which scored the highest percentage is the Dutch city of Groningen (59,4% of very satisfied inhabitants with schools and other educational facilities). Four years ago, when Eurostat conducted the same survey and Groningen also ranked first with 57%.

According to the World Economic Forum Index from 2016, the Netherlands in the third most educated country in the world. Their score is 6,1 out of 7. Also, one third of Dutch people aged 25-64 holds a university degree. This is significantly higher accomplishment than the OECD average of 24%.

The second place is reserved for Zurich, the city which in 2015 survey was positioned on the third place. This time, their score is 52,1% of very satisfied people with school and other educational facilities. In 2015, they scored 52%. This great position is certainly partly a result of the fact that the country of Switzerland spends, on average, EUR 14,400 per student per year for education. The EU average is EUR 8,500.

The capital city of Northern Ireland, Belfast, ranked third with the 50,9 percentage, while Graz has slightly over 50% of satisfied inhabitants with education facilities: 50,6%. These are the only four cities that achieved a result over 50%.

A bit under 50% made Aalborg (49,2%). The Danish city is followed by Ostrava (40,6%) and Glasgow City (39,8%). The eighth, ninth and tenth places are reserved for Antwerp (39,5%), Ljubljana (39,1%) and Dublin greater city (38,5%).

Can mayors influence the education systems in their cities? Of course, they can. There are many ways mayors can get further involved in the school systems. For example, they can ensure that all the city officials become active partners with schools. Mayors are in a unique position to bring the community and business leaders together to find resources and focus efforts to work toward common goals to better support children and youth in the community. Besides city officials, mayors can engage other education stakeholders to give their contribution.

Furthermore, mayors can help schools by investing in their surrounding areas to support learning outside of the schools in nature and after school programmes on fresh air. Also, mayors can assist the school system in recruiting and retaining teachers, as well as developing strategies to support inexperienced teachers. An excellent way is to hire the retired teachers who can serve as mentors.

Education is all about the future of children and they should always come first. If schools don’t work, the city doesn’t work. The reputation of a city’s education system affects the city’s own reputation and prestige. It is excellent to see that mayoral interest in education has escalated because of a growing awareness of the impact schools have on a city’s economic growth and development and hopefully many new cities will stand out as the best ones in the world regarding the education system. (photo credit: rawpixel. com/Freepik)