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How Student-Teacher Ratios Vary Across the Globe

This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Anna Fleck

Around the world, schools are struggling to recruit teachers before the start of the school year. It’s a phenomenon that’s being seen in not only the U.S. but also in Canada, Australia and in Europe, as low salaries and burnout from the pandemic are leading to a mass exodus from the profession.

As our chart shows, there are fairly significant differences between countries. Of the OECD countries listed, Norway and Belgium appear as examples of teachers working with smaller classes, with an average of around 10 pupils per teacher in public education (primary and secondary). By contrast, classes are fairly busy in Mexico. The country has the highest student-teacher ratio of the study, with anywhere between 25 to 30 students per teacher. In the U.S., there are usually around 16 students per teacher in both public elementary and secondary education.

If the situation continues, teaching unions warn, it could lead to a detrimental impact on pupils’ progress, attainment and behavior. This is because it makes it harder to provide adequate provision of learning resources to children, while teachers say they can’t meet the needs of all pupils under those circumstances. While the student-staff ratio alone does not guarantee academic success, with teaching styles, teaching methods and extra-curricular choices also as influencing factors, the majority of teachers believe it is important.

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