Education & Childcare – the best countries to move to

When relocating internationally families tend to apply several criteria when deciding on their new location. This can take the form of career advancement, cost of living, climate, improved lifestyle or perhaps medical reasons. With children’s care and education becoming an increasingly important factor in today’s world, parents attach huge importance to the standards and quality of learning and study their kids will receive once they have completed their International Move.

Having seen the tremendous social and economic benefits gained by countries who focus on an innovative and forward-thinking approach to childcare and teaching, many governments strive to provide outstanding levels of care and education.

Below we highlight 10 of the leading countries when it comes to educating children.

10. GERMANY

In 2001, dissatisfied with low scores on a number of polls including the U.N.’s Education Index Germany took action by reforming their education policy, with an emphasis on making it more family-friendly and also providing support for underprivileged students.

The German government has been keen to promote Women in the workplace and ease the burden on them to work full time and be the sole breadwinner instead of encouraging men to care more for the families with increased opportunities to work part-time.  This tends to enhance the harmony within the family unit.

9. NETHERLANDS

Anyone relocating to Holland will find themselves in one of the most liberal European countries. Younger students do not face much in the form of stress or Windmills and tulips at sunrise in the Netherlands pressure and are unlikely to be assigned homework until they enter secondary education.

Non-Dutch speaking students are well catered for from primary to secondary education. Graduation levels are incredibly high and in recent years there has been a significant increase in funding of underprivileged students.

There are more than 150 International schools in Holland and students in the Netherlands are found to be the happiest in the world according to a recent UNICEF study.

8. SINGAPORE

Students in Singapore enjoy some amazing educational facilities with a system which scores very high with several global institutes and educational bodies such as PISA (Program for International Student Assessment), OECD, Pearsons Education etc. However, parents looking to relocate to Singapore for the benefit of their children should be aware of the high pressure often applied to kids during the learning process. It can get intense.

The Island state is a safe environment for kids and the climate and cultural diversity makes this an incredible place for a family and especially kids to live and learn.

7. Taiwan

Anyone moving to Taiwan cannot help but notice the friendly warmhearted people and particularly the hospitable way they treat foreigners especially, families with children. This may have something to do with the low population growth rate, especially in Taipei. In recent years the government has aggressively focused on encouraging young families. There are numerous preschool/kindergardens throughout Taiwan. An increasing number provide an English only curriculum with young students, both native and foreign, being taught by native English speaking teachers.

Students in Taiwan achieve some of the highest grades when compared to leading nations, and the literacy rate among 15-year-olds is over 98%. However, there has been criticism, particularly the pressure which is applied to students especially during exams, which has led to recent reforms including ‘exam free’ pathways to secondary schools and added focus on reading creativity and arts which it is hoped will stimulate critical thinking.

Taiwan continues to be one of the safest countries to raise children offering numerous child-friendly activities such as zoos, adventure playgrounds, science museums, and water parks.

6. AUSTRALIA

More and more expats are moving to Australia because of the highly revered educational standards and the quality of life that accompanies it. Almost 70% of the local population and an increasing number of expats allow their kids to attend Australia’s public schools anyone relocating to Australia on a permanent residency visa is able to take advantage of the free education made available to all Australians.

Children are eligible to attend public schools within certain catchment areas based on the family’s home address, which often results in families targeting certain residential areas in order to qualify for more prestigious schools.

Private/international schools are available although are small in number than one would find in other expat destinations. In addition, the tuition fees are generally astronomic and may not be included as part of expatriate salary compensation package, since many employers may not view International school a priority as it may be deemed in other “hardship” expat postings.

5. NORWAY

Families moving to Norway will be pleased to find one of the best educational systems in the whole of Europe. Children are provided with public education from the age of 6 to 16 and the education is free. Parents have the option to place children as young as 1 year old into daycare, the fees for which are heavily subsidized by the state. Parents are able to continued daycare until the child is 3 years old. Mothers who are working are very well catered for in Norway. They are permitted to take 1 year of maternity leave on full pay. In addition, the well-being of children is very much a priority, with parents able to take up to 20 days full paid leave to take care of the children should they become ill or sick.

Prior to 2005 private schools in Norway were virtually non-existent, with the exception of certain religious schools. These days there are several international schools available in Norway the vast majority of which offers British GCSE Systems or  International Baccalaureate.

4. SWEDEN

As with other Nordic countries, Sweden ranks extremely high when it comes to childcare and education. New parents enjoy flexible maternity regulations for both mothers and fathers. Expectant mothers as part of their prenatal care receive subsidized and in some cases free coaching and group support courses. Preschool is available to children at the age of 1 and it is a good idea to apply to two or three schools as soon as possible. Assuming you become a permanent resident in Sweden the costs for this will be relatively low, most likely heavily subsidized or in some cases free.

Swedish law states that children must attend at school between the age of 7 – 16. However, it is possible to start your child in school at the age of 6 and preschool kindergarten is available for younger children. Public schools are free. At 17 to 19 years of age, an upper secondary school option becomes available. Whilst it is not compulsory, the majority of students take advantage of this further education.

3. AUSTRIA

For many years Austria has provided some of the best education in the world. With over 98% families with young children relocating to Austria can take advantage of the government’s generous policies and plans, which includes free education and textbooks, in some cases free or heavily subsidised transportation.literacy rate, the country leads the way in many aspects of education and childcare initiatives.

Kindergardens and pre-schoolers may also be entitled to free morning programs, and for a reasonable fee, this can be extended to the afternoon.

The good news continues with maternity leave; Parents are entitled to full pay 8 weeks prior to the birth and 8 weeks post birth. It is common for mothers in Austria to remain at home with their child for two years before returning to work.

With generous childcare allowances, Austria is a great place to move to.

2. CZECH REPUBLIC

For parents looking to find a balance between work and family life, moving to the Czech Republic could be an option. Although free, public education is conducted in the Czech language. However, an increasing number of pre-school establishments are operated in English or other foreign languages including German and French.  Also, International schools here are much more affordable than many other International postings.

Families with older children who relocate to the Czech Republic will discover a host of colleges and places of higher learning. The country has a vibrant, youthful reputation and of course, if you are based in Prague, it is stunningly beautiful.

1. FINLAND

It is said that Finns ‘prepare kids how to learn, not how to take an exam’. Finland leads the way when it comes to education, not only scoring high on virtually every study but also with the methods it employs. Children spend less time in the classroom than any other leading country. Teachers use the extra time on assessing students, and homework is minimal with more focus on play, socializing and bonding. Whilst children are able to start pre-school earlier, formal education does not start until the age of 7 with only 9 years of education being compulsory. The idea is to ‘let kids be kids’.

Schools tend to open later – typically no earlier than 9:00 am and close around 2:30 pm.

Parents in Finland enjoy some of the most generous maternity and childcare systems in the world, allowing them to spend time with infants and younger children integrating their work with family life harmoniously.

Preschool is free, daycare is subsidised, and the state pays parents around USD 170 per month for every child until the age of 17. Furthermore, healthcare, counseling, food and even transportation, (if required), is provided free of charge.

We hope you have found this country guide useful