Totally agree! China realized the importance of the quality of teachers and started to use various incentives to attract good candidates to the teaching profession. I won't say "attracting the best" because it's just not realistic. It introduced performance and responsibility based salary structure (you can call it some sort of accountability system) in the late 1980s and the system has been improved a number of times. In addition to make sure teacher salary increase should at least catch up with the inflation, good primary school teacher's salary could be equal to the salary of associate professor. And, school teachers' salary increase is more frequent than professors'. At the same time, the government sets up the minimum level and decentralized the decision power to local authorities. Local authorities assocaite teacher salary increase with local economic performance. So, you may hear complains from teachers in one area after comparing their salary with teachers' in another area, even within the same province! Such system has both pros and cons of course. But, in today's China, complaining teaching is a low pay job is much less frequently heard. Also, I agree that education is a much history, culture contextualized business. Something works in Asia probably is not going to work in other parts of the world. Also, it is more likely that Finland feels it's doing fine, it's education reform or improvement may be slower or stagnant while Asian countries have been making much more effort in education. Foundamentally, almost all Asian countries feel strongly the global competition and constently worry about being left behind. The only way they could comfort themselves is to make sure their education is improving and leads the world. Such drive is not commonly seen in other parts of the world, even with the deep financial crisis (e.g., Europe). How to motivate and mobilize the mass and help themselves and the country is something policymakers should not ignore. What's happening in Malaysia now may provide good lessons to us. Finally, Shanghai good results didn't appear magically. The Telegraph's article provides some clue: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10494678/PISA-education-tests-Why-Shanghai-pupils-are-so-special.html.