Welcome back to Chapter-II of the series “Lessons from the Finnish Schools”.
In the Chapter-I of this lesson, I discussed the success story and impact of the Finland’s education system. In this Chapter-II, let’s have a closer look at the Finnish Education System and how it works. To understand it better, I have divided this chapter into three separate headings and mentioned the key features as below:
- Education Policies & Structure
- Education reform strategies: a creation of a unified comprehensive education structure and national curriculum guidelines, restructuring of schools and teachers’ training (by Finland’s Universities), greater importance on higher order thinking skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, creativity, and interdisciplinary studies.
- An intense focus on teachers’ quality, recruitment, selection, training, supervision and support of teachers ensuring accountability, curriculum, and school management is driven by a highly integrated system of policies and structures.
- Adoption of development plans for education & research every four years, to adapt the constantly changing needs.
- Reducing class sizes, enhancing remediation & special needs teaching, improving teachers’ working conditions, development of teachers’ professional skills, and adult education & training.
- A Firm structure to cater for a better education system:
- Public v. Private schools – 100% state funded schools.
- Compulsory primary education starts at the age of seven and continues for next ten years until the age of sixteen. 20 hours of class per week, 4 hours of work per day and no homework.
- The pre-school year, elementary education and both strands of upper secondary education are free of charge for everyone.
- Except in the general upper secondary, text books and other requisites are provided by the school. Free daily school meals provided for all in both primary and secondary schools without charge.
- Free bus facility for students living 5 km or farther from the nearest school.
- Lower penalty imposed for not attending upper secondary education.
- Teacher training – Regular teacher training provided by the University with emphasis on updated pedagogy.
- The teachers are respected, have lesser workload, and are better paid. The salary gap between teachers and other professionals is smaller as compared to those in OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.
- Lesser teaching hours (more than 100 hours less) per year by the primary and secondary school teachers, as compared to the OECD countries.
- Student teachers ratio (9:1) in Finland is lowest amongst the OECD countries (14:1).
- Lesser time spent on compulsory instruction time in general education (15% less than the OECD average), and higher on natural science (11%) and arts (13%).
- Around 14% of public expenditure on higher education is dedicated to student financial aid, for actively supporting financially troubled students.
- No national level high-stake assessment in primary education. The control of learning is left to schools and individual teachers.
- The exams given by teachers are mostly to accumulate normative data for uniform marking, so that students may enter into the upper secondary schools of their own choices.
- Apart from the recurrent exams measuring the students’ curriculum attainment, specific normative tests are widely in use in early grades to screen for possible learning difficulties and not to judge them based on their scores.
- These normative tests are given by trained teachers and school psychologists, and the results are used for remedial and special education support and resources.
It is not difficult to conclude why the Finnish students are ahead of the most of the students from other countries. Better talents aspire to become teachers, and in turn, they improve the level of learning. They are paid and trained well. In addition to these, maybe the most important of all, they are treated with utmost respect in the society. This is something, which used to be India’s USP during 5thCE when world use to come to learn from us. Guru was considered even above the God. The status got diluted over the period, and the system collapsed gradually.
The Finnish students start at the age of 7, which gives an essential chance for the natural abilities and growth of the children to occur without unnecessary interference. Primary education and other quality amenities are free, and policies are revised appropriately to ensure the same. Lesser teaching hours and balanced teacher-students ratio give both the students and the teachers’ ample time and opportunity to address individual problems and evolve with better learning techniques. All the factors in the Finnish education system are directed towards betterment of the skills and personality of the students and none towards the competition. Marks and competition remain a secondary issue for the Finnish education policy makers.
To say the least, we can learn a lot from them. We have a model before us, and we can customise the same to cater our needs. It is always better to learn from others if they have a thing or two to teach us.
In the third and final chapter of this lesson, I will discuss what India needs to learn from the Finnish Education System.
Until then, Keep Learning.
- The Mann’s Voice.
Disclaimer: This blog or any post thereof shall not be considered to be in any way associated with the official stand of Nitant Shiksha Foundation on any issue which is discussed in the above blog-post. The opinions in the above article are author’s own opinion and shall not be considered as an advice or suggestion by or on behalf of Nitant Shiksha Foundation.