The Country With the World's 

Most Successful Education System

 

The teachers are respected; high talent is attracted into teaching; it is considered to be one of the most important professions.”

-Finnish Prime Minister, Matti Vanhanen

 

We probably don't need to go much beyond the above quote to explain the great success of Finland's educational system.

Although the country is comparatively small, Finland has the principal research and development offices of Nokia -- along with 800 other high-tech companies, some overflowing their expertise into neighboring Russia.

This country, not too far from the Arctic circle, is considered to be in the top three of the world’s most competitive countries.

The reason seems clear: its educational system.

The Finnish government keeps the pressure on students to a point that they complain of a lack of fun at school. At the same time, there are no nationwide exams or even final tests. There is continuous assessment -- a mixture of monthly tests and teacher evaluations.

The Finns make sure that all children get fed by providing free meals at school. They subsidize student travel, which they feel is a major part of the education process.

However badly behaved, no student fears expulsion. The emphasis is "getting to the bottom of" whatever behavior problems emerge.

Only 15 per cent of those who apply to be teachers are accepted, even though pay levels are about average for Europe. A master’s degree is required. (Not unrelated, for it's size this country has one of the highest percentage of Ph.D.s in the world.) Teachers are regularly sent on courses during their long holidays to upgrade their knowledge and skills.

The Finns focus on students in need and reject a class-stratified educational system. They feel that equality in the classroom ends up being a plus and not a hindrance to overall progress.

Thus, the educational gap between the "haves" and the "have-not's" shrinks, and the overall level of student and adult achievement is raised.

The answer to a truly effective educational system is no mystery; the only mystery in the United States is why we let vested interests keep us from achieving it.


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