The Finnish educational system is considered to be one of the finest systems in the world. Finland has managed to climb to the top of the lists when it comes to education in a period of around 40 years. This of course came with a lot of reforms in education which many countries now try to implement. It is a paradise on Earth both for students and teachers and this is by no accident.
This is why we compiled a list of 25 amazing facts about the Finnish educational system that will surely justify Finland’s success worldwide.
1. Finnish children don’t start with formal education until the age of 7.
This is a very healthy decision, as most of our personality is being developed in our first 7 years of life and these years should be spent mostly with the family and the closest ones.(Source: NYTimes)
2. Children rarely or never take exams until they’re well into their teens.
Exams are known to be frustrating to prepare for and can be devastating for some children. They can play a very negative role in their motivation. Their absence is seen as a crucial factor for the children to feel free in finding their passion.(Source: NYTimes)
3. The children aren’t measured at all in their first six years of education.
“The first six years of education are not about academic success,” said Dr. Sahlberg. “We don’t measure children at all. It’s about being ready to learn and finding your passion.”(Source: NYTimes)
4. There is only one mandatory standardized test, which students take at the age of 16.
This exam is given at the end of the students’ senior year in high school.(Source: Smithsonian)
5. All children are taught in the same classroom, and the same way.
There is no division between clever and not-so-clever children. There are also classes for children with special educational needs.(Source: Smithsonian)
6. Finland spends 30% less per student than the US.
For a country that has a very high rate of high school and vocational school graduates (17,5% higher than the US), Finland spends approximately 30% less per student than the US. (Source: Smithsonian)
The schools are fully prepared to support any child that needs support in any way. (Source: Smithsonian)
8. 66 percent of students go on to higher education.
This is the highest rate in the European Union.(Source: Smithsonian)
9. The differences between the strongest and the weakest students are the smallest in the World.
This is the result of a recent survey done by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).(Source: Smithsonian)
10. Science classrooms are capped at 16 students.
This way, they can all participate equally in experiments in each lesson.(Source: TNR)
11. 93% of Finnish students graduate from high school.
Thanks to their fabulous education, almost all students graduate from high school. This is 17.5% more than students in the US.(Source: Smithsonian)
12. 43% of Finnish students go to vocational high schools.
There they prepare to work in restaurants, hospitals, construction sites and offices.(Source: Smithsonian)
13. Finnish elementary students get almost three times more recess than the US students.
To be exact, Finnish elementary students get 75 minutes of recess per day, while the American students get only 25. (Source: TNR)
14. Teachers spend only 4 hours a day in the classroom and are paid 2 hours a week for professional development.
This means a rested teacher who always works on increasing his/her knowledge.(Source: NYTimes)
15. Finland has the same amount of teachers as New York, but almost half the students.
To be exact, 600,000 students in Finland compared to 1,1 million students in NYC. The more the teachers, the more the individual attention the students can receive.(Source: NYTimes)
16. Finland’s schools are 100% state funded.
The people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians.(Source: Smithsonian)
17. All teachers must have a master’s degree, which is paid by the government.
“Teachers are required to earn a fifth-year master’s degree in theory and practice at one of eight state universities – at state expense.”(Source: Smithsonian)
18. The national curriculum provides broad guidelines, not prescriptions.
Teachers from all over the nation helped in building this curriculum. Every teacher has the liberty to adjust it and build it individually depending on the classes they teach, only by following the guidelines. (Source: Smithsonian)
19. The teachers are selected from the top 10% of the nation’s graduates.
The selected educators earn the required master’s degree in education. Studying pays a lot there! (Source: Smithsonian)
20. In 2010, 6,600 applicants vied for 660 primary school training slots
The interest for a teaching career in Finland is very big! (Source: Smithsonian)
21. The average starting salary for a teacher in Finland was $29,000 in 2008, which is lower than that in the US
The average starting salary for a US teacher is $36,000. (Source: NYTimes)
22. However, high school teachers in Finland with 15 years of experience make 102% of what other university graduates make
Compared to the US, where the figure is 62%, Finnish teacher receive 40% more. (Source: TNR)
23. There is no merit pay for teachers
The Finnish authorities have made teaching so appealing, that they have won the talent war without the need for any competitions in the profession.(Source: TNR)
24. Teachers are as respected as doctors or lawyers
With the mandatory 5 year master’s degree in education and their contribution to the country, teachers in Finland are regarded with high respect. (Source: Smithsonian)
25. According to the 2015 PISA scores, the Finnish nation is 5th in the World
These are the results from the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores. This puts Finland in the 5th place in the world with a score of 531 in science, 526 in reading and 511 in maths.