Singaporean teachers are the highest paid among 21 countries according to a study, earning an average annual salary of US$45,755, ahead of the United States' US$44,917 and South Korea's US$43,874.

But respondents in Singapore felt that local teachers were overpaid by about $5,000 annually - almost 14 per cent higher than what they perceived to be fair.

This was in contrast to most of the other countries surveyed for the Varkey GEMS Foundation 2013 Global Teacher Status Index, in which they assessed actual wages to be below perceived fair wages. In fact, respondents from 95 per cent of the surveyed countries thought teachers were earning less than what they ought to.

In the Teacher Status Index - which measures cultural, political and socio-economic factors, such as general attitudes towards the education system and perception of teachers in each country - Singapore was ranked seventh, surpassing the US (No 9), the United Kingdom (No 10) and Finland (No 13). China topped the rankings, followed by Greece, Turkey and then South Korea.

Singapore came in third with regard to confidence and trust in the national education system. Finland took top position, followed by Switzerland.

In terms of trust in teachers to deliver a good education, Singapore tied with Portugal at No 6. Finland and Brazil topped the table, while Israel and Japan were at the bottom.

Four in five respondents in Singapore said they would encourage their children to become teachers - making the Republic the fifth-ranked country to view teaching as a profession their children should aspire to. China topped the rankings.

China is also the only country where respondents likened the social status of teachers to that of doctors, as shown by a question that seeks to determine the social standing of teachers.

In two-thirds of the countries polled, including Singapore, teachers were regarded as similar to social workers, while respondents in the US, Brazil, France and Turkey mostly likened teachers to librarians, among other graduate-level jobs.

"Singapore's pay sits teachers very highly," said Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey GEMS Foundation.

"But what our results show is that this does not necessarily mean teachers are highly respected," he added.

While this may be true for most countries surveyed, it is not the case for Singapore as some 45 per cent of respondents believe students have respect for teachers here.