Education in Finland  

Education in Finland

by John M Repp

 Finland has one of the best educational systems in the world. Yes, they are a small country compared to the United States, but we must remember that our school systems are city, county or state based, not nationally based. One of the biggest barriers to improvement in the United States is the idea, often unstated, that we cannot learn from other countries. This is a recipe for failure. We can learn a lot from Finnish educational practices, and we know that improving our educational systems should be a key focus of our efforts to make our country better.

Finns want to have a trust-based system, not a control-based system. Finland trusts its teachers. They all have at least a master’s degree. Teachers’ salaries are good. Finland rejects the idea of standardized testing in its primary school system. Until the age of 13, there is no grading and no report cards. Cooperation is valued and competition is played down. The Finns want to impart the idea that there is joy in learning and learning how to learn. The Finns want to maintain a balance between schoolwork and fun.

Their system is based on public education. There are a few private schools, but by law they cannot make a profit. Public education is free, from primary schools to universities. They see education as an investment in their future that is returned many times over. It is not a cost to be born. In 1948, they introduced free school lunches.

Primary school starts at age seven. The school days are short, just five hours long. There is plenty of time for music, the arts, and sports. These after school activities are paid for by the government, so they will not be curtailed if a school system lacks the funds, as has happened here in the United States. Funding for the public schools comes from the national government on a per-student basis, unlike in the United States, where funding comes from property taxes, which means in the richer neighborhoods, the schools are better funded. Supporting the Finnish school system is a very good childcare system. The cost of childcare there is capped at less than three hundred Euros a month. On May 1, 2023, that cap is 338 dollars a month.

Finland ranks as one of the happiest countries of the world. Its educational practices surely contribute to that fact.

Here is a 13 minute video giving 10 reasons why Finnish schools are so good.