Top 10 Countries with Best Social and Emotional Learning Programs in the World

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing the skills and attitudes that enable people to manage their emotions, achieve their goals, empathize with others, build positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. SEL has been shown to improve the academic performance, mental health, and social behavior of students and adults. But which countries are leading the way in implementing SEL programs in their schools and communities? Here is a list of 10 countries that have been recognized for their efforts and achievements in promoting SEL.

The country with best sel programs in 2023


Singapore has been a pioneer in integrating SEL into its national curriculum since 1997 when it introduced the Framework for 21st Century Competencies and Student Outcomes. This framework identifies five domains of competencies that students need to develop for the future: civic literacy, global awareness and cross-cultural skills; critical and inventive thinking; communication, collaboration and information skills; self-awareness and self-management; and social awareness and relationship management. The framework also outlines eight desired outcomes that reflect the values, skills, and knowledge that students should possess by the end of their schooling. These include being confident, resilient, responsible, respectful, caring, active contributors, concerned citizens, and lifelong learners.

Singapore has also developed various programs and initiatives to support SEL implementation in schools, such as the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Curriculum, which provides a comprehensive and developmentally appropriate approach to teaching SEL skills from preschool to secondary levels; the Positive Education Movement, which aims to foster a culture of well-being and happiness in schools; and the Character and Citizenship Education (CCE), which emphasizes the development of moral values, civic responsibility, national identity, and global awareness among students.


Finland is widely regarded as one of the best education systems in the world, and one of the reasons for its success is its emphasis on SEL. Finland has adopted a holistic approach to education that values not only academic achievement but also social and emotional development, creativity, collaboration, and well-being. The Finnish National Core Curriculum for Basic Education states that “the aim of education is to support pupils’ growth towards humanity and ethically responsible membership of society and to provide them with the knowledge and skills needed in life”. The curriculum also identifies seven transversal competencies that cut across all subjects and activities: thinking and learning to learn; cultural competence, interaction and expression; taking care of oneself and managing daily life; multiliteracy; ICT competence; working life competence and entrepreneurship; and participation, involvement and building a sustainable future.

Finland has also implemented several programs and practices to foster SEL in schools, such as the KiVa anti-bullying program, which aims to prevent and tackle bullying by enhancing empathy, self-esteem, peer support, and positive school climate; the Lions Quest program, which focuses on developing life skills, character education, service learning, and drug prevention; and the Finnish Student Health Service, which provides comprehensive health care services for all students from primary to higher education.


Canada has been a leader in advancing SEL research and practice for over two decades. In 1996, Canada hosted the first international conference on SEL, which led to the formation of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), an organization that promotes SEL worldwide. Canada has also produced some of the most influential SEL researchers and scholars, such as Roger Weissberg, Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, and Stuart Shanker.

Canada has also implemented various policies and programs to support SEL in schools and communities, such as the Pan-Canadian Joint Consortium for School Health, which promotes a comprehensive school health approach that addresses physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being of students and staff; the Roots of Empathy program, which reduces aggression and increases empathy among children by bringing a baby and parent into classrooms; and the Fourth R program, which teaches healthy relationships and violence prevention to adolescents.


Australia has been at the forefront of integrating SEL into its national curriculum and standards. The Australian Curriculum identifies seven general capabilities that are essential for living and working in the 21st century: literacy, numeracy, information and communication technology capability, critical and creative thinking, personal and social capability, ethical understanding, and intercultural understanding. The personal and social capability domain encompasses four elements: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social management. These elements align with the five core competencies of SEL defined by CASEL: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Australia has also developed several resources and initiatives to support SEL implementation in schools, such as the KidsMatter Primary and MindMatters Secondary frameworks, which provide evidence-based strategies to promote mental health and well-being among students; the National Safe Schools Framework, which aims to create safe and supportive learning environments that foster respect, diversity, and inclusion; and the Student Wellbeing Hub, which offers online tools and resources for teachers, students, and parents to enhance student well-being.

New Zealand

New Zealand has a strong tradition of holistic education that values not only cognitive development but also affective development. The New Zealand Curriculum Framework states that “the curriculum reflects New Zealand’s cultural diversity and values the histories and traditions of all its people”. The curriculum also identifies five key competencies that students need to live, learn, work, and contribute as active members of their communities: thinking; using language, symbols, and texts; managing self; relating to others; participating and contributing.

New Zealand has also implemented various programs and practices to foster SEL in schools, such as the Health Promoting Schools initiative, which supports schools to improve health outcomes for students; the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) initiative, which helps schools create positive learning environments; the Incredible Years Teacher Programme, which trains teachers to manage challenging behaviors; and promote social competence among students; the Te Kotahitanga Project, which aims to improve educational outcomes for Maori students by enhancing culturally responsive pedagogy.


Sweden has a long history of promoting democratic values and human rights in its education system. The Swedish Education Act states that “education shall be designed in accordance with fundamental democratic values ​​and human rights such as the inviolability of human life, individual freedom and integrity”. The act also stipulates that “education shall aim at pupils developing knowledge but also at pupils acquiring and developing abilities that will prepare them for life as individuals and members of society”. The act also specifies that “education shall be based on scientific grounds and proven experience”.

Sweden has also implemented several programs and practices to foster SEL in schools, such as the Life Competence Education (Livskunskap) program, which aims to develop students’ social and emotional skills such as self-esteem, communication, conflict resolution, stress management, empathy and cooperation; the Friends Program, which prevents bullying by creating a positive school climate where everyone feels safe and respected; the Youth Guidance Centres (UMOs), which provide health care services for young people aged 13-25.


Norway has a strong commitment to fostering democratic citizenship and social justice in its education system. The Norwegian Core Curriculum – Values ​​and Principles for Primary and Secondary Education states that “education shall help increase pupils’ awareness of fundamental human rights as well as respect for human dignity as expressed through democracy”. The curriculum also states that “education shall help pupils develop personal insight as well as respect for themselves as individuals”. The curriculum also identifies six basic skills that are integrated into all subjects: oral skills; reading skills; writing skills; numeracy skills; digital skills; learning strategies.

Norway has also implemented several programs and practices to foster SEL in schools, such as the Manifesto against Bullying, which mobilizes schools to prevent bullying by signing a declaration of zero tolerance; the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, which reduces bullying by improving peer relations among students; the Zippy’s Friends Program, which enhances coping skills among children aged 5-8.


Denmark has a progressive approach to education that emphasizes student-centered learning and democratic participation. The Danish Folkeskole Act states that “the Folkeskole shall – in cooperation with parents – give pupils knowledge as well as skills that

prepare them for further education and for a working life in a society with extensive international contacts; [and] promote their personal development and active participation in the development of society and democracy”. The act also defines six principles that guide the education system: the principle of equal education; the principle of adapted education; the principle of broad education; the principle of practical and theoretical learning; the principle of clear goals and requirements; and the principle of cooperation and participation.

Denmark has also implemented various programs and practices to foster SEL in schools, such as the Class Hour, which is a weekly session where students discuss issues related to their class, school, or society; the Student Councils, which are elected bodies that represent students’ interests and opinions in school matters; the Social Skills Training, which teaches students how to cope with stress, anger, anxiety, and peer pressure; and the Open School, which offers after-school activities that promote creativity, cooperation, and well-being.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has a diverse and decentralized education system that allows each of its four constituent countries (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) to have its own curriculum and standards. However, all four countries share a common vision of developing students’ social and emotional skills as part of their broader educational goals. The UK government has also endorsed the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), an independent charity that supports evidence-based interventions to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged students. The EEF has identified SEL as one of its priority areas and has funded several projects and evaluations on SEL programs and practices.

Some examples of SEL programs and practices in the UK are: the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) program, which was a national initiative in England that aimed to develop students’ social and emotional skills through a whole-school approach; the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland, which defines four capacities that students should develop: successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens, and effective contributors; the Personal and Social Education (PSE) framework in Wales, which covers six themes: active citizenship, health and emotional well-being, moral and spiritual development, preparing for lifelong learning, sustainable development and global citizenship, and sex and relationships education; and the Personal Development and Mutual Understanding (PDMU) curriculum in Northern Ireland, which focuses on developing students’ personal, emotional, social, and health needs.

United States

The United States has a complex and diverse education system that varies across states, districts, schools, and classrooms. However, there is a growing recognition of the importance of SEL for student success and well-being. The US government has supported several initiatives and policies to promote SEL in schools and communities, such as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which allows states to use federal funds to support SEL programs and assessments; the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, which convened experts and stakeholders to advance a comprehensive vision of SEL; and the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model, which provides a framework for integrating health and education policies and practices.

The US is also home to many organizations and networks that advocate for SEL research and practice, such as CASEL, which provides guidance and resources for implementing SEL in schools; the American Institutes for Research (AIR), which conducts rigorous evaluations of SEL programs and interventions; the Aspen Institute, which hosts the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development; the Collaborating States Initiative (CSI), which supports state efforts to develop policies and standards for SEL; and the NoVo Foundation, which funds various projects and initiatives that advance SEL.

How SEL Supports Academic, Career, and Life Success

SEL supports academic success by enhancing students’ cognitive skills and attitudes, such as attention, memory, problem-solving, motivation, and self-efficacy. SEL also helps students cope with academic stress and challenges, such as test anxiety, procrastination, and failure. Research has shown that SEL programs can improve students’ academic performance, grades, test scores, and graduation rates.

SEL supports career success by developing students’ interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, such as communication, collaboration, leadership, creativity, and resilience. SEL also helps students explore their interests, values, and goals, and prepare for the demands and opportunities of the 21st century workforce. Research has shown that SEL programs can enhance students’ employability skills, career readiness, and job satisfaction.

SEL supports life success by fostering students’ emotional and social well-being, such as self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social responsibility. SEL also helps students build positive relationships with peers, family, and community members, and contribute to a more caring and just society. Research has shown that SEL programs can reduce students’ mental health problems, behavioral issues, and risk behaviors, and increase their happiness and life satisfaction.


These are some of the countries that have been recognized for their efforts and achievements in promoting SEL in their education systems. However, this is not an exhaustive or definitive list, as there are many other countries that are also implementing SEL programs and practices in various ways and contexts. Moreover, SEL is not a static or fixed concept, but a dynamic and evolving one that reflects the needs and aspirations of different cultures and communities. Therefore, it is important to learn from each other’s experiences and challenges and to collaborate and innovate to create more effective and equitable SEL opportunities for all students and adults. SEL is not only a means to an end, but an end in itself, as it helps us become more aware, compassionate, and engaged citizens of the world.

Leave a Comment