No stranger to life near the top of international education rankings, Finland has been judged as having the best preschool provision in a study of 45 countries. The UK came fourth.
The report, published by the Economist Intelligence Unit, considered the affordability, availability and quality of preschool education. It highlighted key areas for countries to focus on in the drive to improve standards, including good-quality teacher training and not rushing to adopt curriculums from other countries without adapting them to local circumstances.
The leading countries had a comprehensive early childhood strategy and a legal right to such education, the report found. Universal enrolment for at least a year of preschool, subsidies for underprivileged families and specific qualifications for preschool workers were other features of successful countries.
Australia, Canada, Singapore and the US performed poorly, despite high average per-head incomes.
Top five countries*
*Scores based on weighted rankings of social context, availability, affordability and quality
Bottom five countries*