Unfortunately, when it comes to global education rankings, Brazil often appears in the latest positions, regardless of what is evaluated. In contrast, it is common to see asian countries and those in the Scandinavia and Europe region always occupying the top positions.

Check out some common features of countries that are educational superpowers, according to the BBC:
1) It is better not to have natural resources.

We will start with a very peculiar characteristic: if you want good results in education, it is better than your country does not have many natural resources.

One example is the Middle East, which has huge oil reserves, and it also tends to have very few educational indices. The reason is that this discourages interest in studies, since it is difficult to encourage a person who hopes to be rich, regardless of their results at school.

On the other hand, small nations with few natural resources had to learn to live and to progress rapidly with their own intelligence. A good example is South Korea, which 60 years ago had one of the worst illiteracy indices in the world. Today, it already exports various products and technologies to the whole world.

2) Be in East Asia

Speaking of South Korea, it is interesting to note that many of the educational powers are located in East Asia. Singapore ranks first in the International Student Assessment Program (Pisa), followed by Japan. Other countries outside the region rank among the top 10, such as Taiwan, Macau, Honk Kong, China and Vietnam. The South Koreans appear “only” in 11th place.

3) Have a neighboring country that is larger than your

Another common feature of the educational powers is that many had to struggle hard to stand out from some neighbor who was more important than them.

For example, Finland, Poland, and Estonia, which are often well-rated in education rankings, had to step out of the shadow of the Soviet bloc. Singapore, which appears first in the Pisa list, is a tiny state city, which has much larger neighbors in size and population.

And what do you do to match them? Just invest in education.

4) Being a relatively “young”

Some of the countries that are well placed in education rankings may have ancient cultures, such as Japan and China. However, several others have emerged recently.

Finland, for example, will celebrate its centenary this year alone, while South Korea and Singapore, in their current political form, only emerged in the last century.

Even Vietnam, which emerged from a cruel civil war in the 1970s, is investing heavily in education and has been reaping the fruits of this investment, even surpassing countries like the United States and some European powers.

5) Long-term planning

Investing in education also fits the old maxim that results do not come overnight. Sometimes it takes 10 years or more to make changes in the educational system to the point where it makes some positive difference in the country’s position in relation to educational rankings.

And this is not usually a good incentive for a world as timely as today, where everything needs to be done in the short term. For example, it is common to see ministers of education being exchanged in a matter of days in nations that are not usually well-judged.

Coherence and continuity should be important factors when investing in education.