World Cup 2018: School report card on Group F countries Germany, Mexico, South Korea and Sweden

Javier Hernandez Unicef World Cup
Mexican hero Javier Hernandez has been working with UNICEF since 2012, highlighting the plight of poor children who drop out of school (UNICEF)

Every day during the opening week of the World Cup in Russia, we're looking at the education situation in each of the countries taking part. Today it's Group F.

Every four years, the eyes of the world are focused for a month on the football World Cup. 

It’s a chance for people to see games featuring countries they may not know much about. Here we look at some of the education facts and stats from the four countries competing in Group F.


Education system: compulsory for 12 years from age 6-17.

Pre-primary enrolment (age 3-5): 100%.

Primary school completion: 99%.

Student-teacher ratio: 12 in primary, 12 in secondary.

ISSUES AND REFORMS: German schools have taken in 130,000 refugee students since 2015. But they are often placed in disadvantaged schools lacking qualified teachers, a report said earlier this year.

STAR FACT: When Germany won the 2014 World Cup, Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil donated his $500,000 earnings from the tournament to fund operations for 23 children in Brazil.


Education system: compulsory for 14 years from age 4-17.

Pre-primary enrolment (age 3-5): 70%.

Primary school completion: 92%.

Student-teacher ratio: 27 in primary, 16 in secondary.

Literacy rate for 15-24-year-olds: 99%.

ISSUES AND REFORMS: Nearly 5000 schools were destroyed or damaged by earthquakes last September that killed 19 students at one primary school. Research last year showed that hundreds of thousands of Mexican girls are missing out on education after getting married or living with a man – who is often much older.

STAR FACT: West Ham United striker Javier Hernández, also known as “Chicharito”, is an ambassador for UNICEF. He has used the role to raise awareness of the need to help thousands of Mexican children who live in poverty and drop out of school to go into work. He said: “Let’s unite for children, let’s achieve a better life for Mexico’s children and adolescents.”

G20 Germany 2017 1

Germany is one of the world’s leading donors for girls’ education (World Bank)


Education system: compulsory for 11 years from age 6-16.

Pre-primary enrolment (age 5-6): 50%.

Student-teacher ratio: 20 in primary, 17 in secondary.

Literacy rate for 15-24-year-olds: 100%.

ISSUES AND REFORMS: South Korea’s education system has been named as the best in the world for three years in a row. But some experts claim the emphasis on exam results can be at the expense of social skills.

STAR FACT: South Korea’s iconic midfielder Park Ji-sung, who starred for Manchester United, played in the World Cup semi-final in 2002. His JS Foundation raises funds for improving football infrastructure for socially and economically underprivileged children in South Korea, North Korea and across the East Asian region.


Education system: compulsory for 9 years from age 7-15.

Pre-primary enrolment (age 3-6): 93%.

Primary school completion: 100%.

Student-teacher ratio: 12 in primary, 13 in secondary.

ISSUES AND REFORMS: All children will be required to attend preschool from the age of six, starting this autumn. That will take the compulsory number of years of education to 10. 

STAR FACT: Football legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn’t playing in this World Cup. But four years ago he donated £30,000 to send a Swedish team with learning difficulties to the world championship in Brazil.

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