With a failing economy and a depreciating forestry industry that served as the main source of income, Finland promised its children to provide them with the best education there is. 30 years later, it is one of the most feted countries in the world, having transformed its education system from under-performing to the most desired.
What did they do? Let’s take a look!
Amongst the many changes they got, central to their success was the emphasis on the teacher training programs. Finland wanted to employ a bottom-up approach and the best resolution for the same was, to train its teachers extensively.
- The teaching profession is the most respected profession in Finland and is driven by moral purpose than material interest.
- As a rule, all the teachers receive a master’s level training along with high-level teacher training.
- Finland follows the motto “trust through professionalism” and doesn’t evaluate or criticise the teachers.
- A majority of teacher’s time is spent in continuous professional development and the burden of administrative duties is fairly less.
- Teachers spend less time teaching and more time in meticulously planning lessons that would cater to all their students.
- Only 10% of the entire applicants get selected as teachers.
- Total number of teaching hours is ~600 per annum when compared to the US’s which is ~1,100 per annum and the UK which is ~900.
Finland follows an “ethos of equity” and does not discriminate students from highly intellectual to below average in intelligence. They believe in nurturing curiosity and state that the most important learning happens outside the classrooms.
- Students start schooling after the age of 7 with no formal exams until the age of 19.
- Shorter school hours with multiple breaks in between give teachers and students adequate time to rest and recuperate for the next teaching/learning.
- Group activities outside the classroom environment are recommended.
- Outdoor activities and participation in sports are encouraged and organised by the government and local communities.
- Students are urged to participate in varied extracurricular activities.
- Students drive their own learning in the direction of their choice. Teachers only set broad parameters.
There are no learning differences between students in terms of their socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds.
To sum it up, good teachers teamed with sustainable leadership and inspiring curricula formed the building blocks of Finland’s revolutionary success. Once, seen as a failing system and lacking hope for betterment, Finland today is the beacon of hope for countries trying to uplift themselves.
Drawing a parallel to the Indian Education system, if references are to be made, the goals can be eloquently divided into short-term and long-term. Short-term goals being a swift and urgent implementation of teacher training programs while long-terms goals would involve reworking the framework and enabling students to learn, unlearn and relearn at all stages of life. In today’s ever-growing industry, it is imperative for students to have a knack of adjusting to change, to think creatively and proactively solve problems.