A Few words about the education in Finland

In Finland, education is considered a fundamental right of all citizens, and the main objective of Finnish education policy is to offer all citizens equal opportunities to receive education. The majority of students attend publicly funded schools. Municipalities or consolidations of municipalities maintain most primary and upper secondary level institutions. The few existing private schools receive the same amount of public funding as publicly established schools. There are no tuition fees at any level of education. In basic education also school materials, school meals, school healthcare and in some cases also transport are provided free of charge. Children participating in education are entitled to receive additional support for growth and learning. Depending on students’ needs, this support may be provided as remedial teaching, part time special education, enhanced support based on an individual learning plan, or full time special education. [1]

Before compulsory education begins, a child must participate in one year of preprimary education, which municipalities are obligated to provide. Compulsory education usually starts the year in which a child turns 7 years old. The basic education syllabus spans nine years, which nearly all children complete by attending comprehensive school (Grades 1 to 9). After the completion of basic education, the child enters the upper secondary level which comprises general and vocational education. After completing the 3-year-syllabus, the general upper secondary school ends in a matriculation examination that determines eligibility for higher education studies in polytechnics and universities. Also the vocational upper secondary qualification examination determines general eligibility for all forms of higher education. [ibid]

Finland’s high level in education is based on high-quality teacher education. A Master’s degree is a prerequisite for teacher qualification except for preschool teachers for whom Bachelor is sufficient. The general content and structure of teacher education programs are regulated by the government. Teachers’ collective agreements on working conditions regulate their obligation to participate in professional development for three days during each school year. [2]

Strength of the Finnish school is that it has succeeded in providing students a relatively good level of competence on average. However, instruction has not succeeded in engaging and motivating students in learning to the same extent. The motivational results are relatively poor. As a result, the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture launched the national development programme ‘Basic education of the future – let’s turn the trend’ (2014-2015) that aimed at providing analysis and recommendations for updating the Finnish basic education and the pedagogical culture to become more inspiring in the eyes of the students. A total of 45 experts of various fields were appointed to the working groups of the project. After examining their themes for almost a year, the working groups produced a description of the current status of basic education, the phenomena associated with it and the reasons for the deteriorating learning outcomes. [3]

The working groups put together reasoned proposals arising from the development needs of basic education. The proposals included the following: holding on to the principle of local neighborhood schools when selecting a school in order to diminish socioeconomic differences; securing financial resources for education and reducing group sizes; finding new pedagogical solutions; developing school culture and structures of school; developing teacher education and teachers’ lifelong professional development and working hours model; developing school leadership and ensuring adequate management resources; and developing proposals concerning educational research and follow-up for the progress. The proposals were to be exploited in the drawing up of the government programme after the next parliamentary elections in April 2015. [ibid]

Sources of information:

1] Finnish National Agency for Education: Study in Finland http://www.studyinfinland.fi/destination_finland/education_system

2] Ministry of Education and Culture | Teacher education in Finland | 11/2016 http://minedu.fi/documents/1410845/4150027/Teacher+education+in+Finland/57c88304-216b-41a7-ab36-7ddd4597b925/Teacher+education+in+Finland.pdf

3] Basic education of the future – Let’s turn the trend! Najat Ouakrim-Soivio, Ministry of Education and Culture. 12.3.2015