Most people think of going to school as a universal experience, but did you know it actually varies greatly depending where in the world you attend school? Putting to one side the tragedy of millions of people who are denied basic education, here’s 9 ways education is different across the globe.

Learn through memory – China

Here in the UK we’re often taught to be inquisitive and question pretty much anything. This helps us to be more analytical and establishes a base of critical thinking. This isn’t the same ideology used in China for example.

In China, education focuses heavily on its students memorising and repeating the same drills over and over again. This is called Rote learning. It has been suggested that China’s language and culture, is a large contribution to this style of education. Chinese requires memorising thousands of characters, which means Rote learning is enforced at an early age. Rote learning can also aid people who are aiming for a career as a scientist, engineer or mathematician – the biggest career paths that are currently being developed in China.

Anti-religious uniforms – France

In the UK, throughout our school life we’re taught about different religions and to accept and embrace different cultures and lifestyles.

In France, they adopt an entirely different approach. A core principle of French society is laïcité – the belief that religion and public life should be kept as far apart as possible. French public schools ban the wearing of any religious dress affecting Muslim schoolgirls wearing headscarves, Sikhs wearing turbans, Jews wearing yarmulkes, and Christians wearing crucifixes. French schools also don’t provide any form of religious instruction and generally separate religion from school life.

How about no uniforms? – Germany

In the UK, we’re used to seeing pupils in school uniform whether it’s a full blazer or a simple polo shirt, branded with the school’s logo. Uniform rules are heavily enforced in the notion that it creates a positive sense of school spirit and unity. In Germany however, their rules are actually quite the opposite.

In Germany, uniforms have military connotations and are heavily frowned upon. Germany tries to avoid uniform rules where possible, but when uniforms are needed/given, they are made to look as non-traditional as possible, usually with bright colours or branded hoodies/t-shirts.

Floating schools – Bangladeshi

Not being able to attend school due to weather conditions is a problem we rarely have to deal with in the UK, with the exception of the odd closure due to snow, but even then it is usually only for a day or two

However, in Bangladesh, where they experience frequent adverse weather conditions, they’ve devised a solution so school continues irrespective of the severe weather, even when it continually floods – which is often as a gigantic 70% of the land mass in Bangladesh is lower than a metre above sea level. Bangladesh’s innovative solution: flood-proof schools on boats. These schools are often powered by solar panels, this means children can get an education even when the floods are at their worst.

Moral Studies – Japan

Here in the UK, our traditional core subjects are generally Maths, English and Science and these are what we focus heavily upon.

By contrast, Japan’s school system appears to prioritise producing good citizens. Moral education has been taught informally in Japan for decades, but it is gaining more prominence in the Japanese curriculum, being taught in some schools on a par with subjects such as Japanese or mathematics.  The topic covers many topics, such as compassion, persistence, and some life skills. It’s similar in the UK to PSHE, yet there is a lot more focus on attitude and ethics in Japan’s aim of producing well-mannered citizens

Pay for education – South African

It’s a rarity nowadays, especially in developed countries that Primary and Secondary school education isn’t provided for free – unless chosen otherwise.

South Africa however falls into this one exception, where the norm is that schools are usually state-aided, and where parents are able to do so, contribute towards their child’s education. Yet students become exempt from paying these fees, when their parents earn less than 10 times the annual school fees and are therefore not expected to pay these fees.

The full work day – South Korea

Whilst the 9 – 3pm school day may feel long to pupils in the UK, spare a thought to the school children in South Korea. Their full school day collectively can extend to nearly 14 – 16 hour days. The average day begins at 8am and finishes at 4pm, the majority of pupils then choose to attend private school between 6 and 9pm for intensive revision, with then homework usually being added on top. There is no surprise with that extensive day that the majority of students at the top of the international school league table are from South Korea.

Start on your birthday – Dutch

All over the world school life begins at different ages. In the United Kingdom school begins the September following your 4th Birthday, although this sometimes means that the ages of the students in the same school year can actually be up to twelve months apart.

In the Netherlands, their solution to overcome this age gap is that students start school on their 4th birthday. The idea behind this is that by the time students start school they will all be at the same development stage.

3 week graduation party bus – Norway

Preparing to leave school in the UK also means preparing for your leaver’s prom/ball, which can mean weeks of preparation for one night of celebrations.

In Norway, they prepare and drag these celebrations out for three whole weeks. The graduating students work together and hire and decorate a mini bus and travel round attending different events spending the three weeks partying and celebrating the end of their education. The students are obvious to spot, sporting blue or red overalls.

Are you surprised by any of these education trends from across the globe? Is there any you’d like to see over here in the UK?