The story of Finland’s educational overhaul is a remarkable one. Since the 1970s, the country has reformed curriculum, teaching methodologies, school environment etc in an attempt to produce more rounded individuals. As a result, Finland’s education system is now a producer of some of the most accomplished graduates in the world and the system is now held as an exemplary model for the rest of the world to emulate.

Do you want to know why? Well, here are six things that make Finland the best country to get an education in and its education system one of the very best in the world.

Schooling Begins Late For Toddlers

Unlike in Pakistan where parents and children as young as three are pressured into education for fear of being left behind by the ‘competition’, children and parents in Finland do not worry about formal school until the kids are 7 years old. Before that, children spend three years in a preschool per the law of the land. But do not be fooled, the preschools in Finland do not teach any particular subject or topic as they are based on the idea that children learn and play in an educational environment without being forced to study particular subjects. So its learning through play, or playful learning for that matter

No Special School For Special Children

The educational system of Finland acknowledges the individuality and special needs of every child and does not discriminate on basis of physical disabilities. All children, even those with special needs, study in the same classroom. But to diminish disadvantages for challenged individuals, Finns have developed a system that optimizes learning for every kid. Every Finish school employs a full-time special education teacher, who teaches and works part-time with 23% of the students. Apart from that, a group of staff, including the school nurse, the special education teacher, a social worker, the school psychologist, classroom teachers, and the principle come together twice a week to discuss the conduct of students in class and discuss their issues.

Only The Best Get To Teach

Teachers in Finland are held in same, rather more esteem than doctors, lawyers and other professionals, making the education game altogether different. There is a rigorous process one has to go through in order to be eligible to be a teacher in Finland and thousands are rejected each year as only the top 10% get to study to become teachers.

Teachers are paid better and expected to work lesser hours as compared to peers in other developed countries, such as the US. According to Finland School of Education, a teacher spends four to five hours a day teaching, while the remaining time is spent in official meetings, planning time with colleagues, meetings with other professionals such as school counselors etc. Some teachers plan their lessons and check tests at school and some at home. However, teachers are not obliged to stay at school premises after lessons.

Teachers are also given unusual freedom in the sense that they are not inspected in class and allowed to teach in class what they reckon appropriate. They are not obliged to prepare their students for standardized testing but allowed to pursue their own measures for teaching. Given the exceptional treatment and the compensation they are paid, teaching jobs are some of the most sought after openings in entire Finland.

Fewer Standardised Tests

Ah, exams! The bane of every student. But not if you are in Finland. In Finland, students are not burdened with an array of standardized tests but expected to appear for the National Matriculation Examination only once, at the age of 18 (after grade 12), and only by those students who have chosen to continue in the Senior Secondary School (grades 10-12) after compulsory education (grades 1-9). About 50% of students choose Senior Secondary School, while about 50 % opt for vocational schools.

Contrary to other countries that trust technology for calculating the intelligence of students, the above-mentioned test in Finland is checked and graded by educators themselves. The concerned test includes several subject areas and requires the students to exhibit interdisciplinary skills and knowledge. Thus, the Finish education system focuses on the learning of students rather than examinations, leaving healthy developmental effects on students. As a result, students are spared the immense stress experienced through school years by their peers in other countries and fare far better in critical thinking skills.

Less Stress, More Recess

Finish Schools decree that all students studying in primary schools should have a recess time of 15 minutes for every 45 minutes of studies. On average, Finnish students get 75 minutes of recess time a day. Unlike in other parts of the world where elementary pupils’ school timings are no different than those of middle and secondary grade students, the youngest students in grade 1-2 at the age of 7-8 years attend school only about 20 hours a week. Each one hour of study consists of 45 minutes of class time and 15 minutes of recess. Awesome.

The amount of weekly lessons (length of the day) depends on the grade level and it increases steadily from grade 1 to grade 12. Research has found increased recesses to have positive learning affects and increased ability to focus during classes. In the same manner, the primary school students are not loaded with a lot of homework and allowed to devote their time to other recreational activities.

Gender Equality

Although many developing countries exhibit vast gaps in the performance of male and female students, the Finish education system is bucking the trend and overcoming the age-old gender stereotypes. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Finland is the only developed country in which the girls outperform boys in science scores and the majority of the top students happen to be girls. In this way, Finland disrupts the popular myth that girls cannot outdo boys when it comes to science. This exceptional performance is ascribed to the gender equality policies, generous maternity leaves, and strategies for guaranteeing the representation of women in science.

Do you think we missed out some points? Do you know more about the Finnish education system? Let us know with your comments. Better still, send in your suggestions at mail@academiamag.com.

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