New Zealand's education system is the best in the world for preparing young people for an increasingly digital and globalised world, a new study has found.
The Worldwide Educating for the Future Index, released by the Economist Intelligence Unit, ranked New Zealand ahead of Canada, Finland and Switzerland in terms of equipping young people with problem-solving and interpersonal skills.
The report said New Zealand did poorly in only one measure, teacher pay, where it was ranked 19th.
The index of 35 countries was based on measures such as teachers' freedom to innovate, the use of project-based learning in the classroom, and cultural diversity and tolerance in society.
"New Zealand ranks first thanks to factors like university-industry collaboration, a curriculum framework that takes into account skills for the future, and high quality of teacher education. It enjoys an excellent teaching environment, but can look towards Singapore and Finland for improvement in policy and socio-economic spheres," the report said.
New Zealand also ranked highly on measures related to openness and tolerance in society.
The report said it was not enough to teach traditional subjects well, schools also needed to teach critical thinking, collaboration and awareness of global issues like climate change.
"Too many governments are not doing enough to prepare millions of young people for seismic changes in work and life," it said.
"Millions of young people are not being taught effective and relevant skills, leaving them unprepared for the complex challenges of the 21st century."
Teacher pay was the only measure where New Zealand performed poorly, the report said.
"It earned full marks for its curriculum framework for future skills, the effectiveness of its policy implementation system, teacher education, government education expenditure, career counselling in schools, collaboration between universities and industry, and cultural diversity and tolerance. "
The overall ranking was based on three broad measures. New Zealand ranked first for teaching environment, ahead of Canada and Switzerland; second behind Singapore for education policy; and second behind Finland for socio-economic environment.