Finland’s one-of-a-kind education system boasts international renown, and its successful school model needs to be replicated by other counties if we want the next generation to carry the world forward into the twenty-first century. Finland’s students routinely rank at the top of the prestigious PISA report (Program for International Student Assessment) for science and math performance. Finnish students also continue their education for longer than most, with a higher average advancing to graduate and professional schools. And the average Finnish student speaks 4 languages by the time they finish “upper secondary education”! But what brought about this success and how can the Ontario Ministry of Education emulate it?
Forty years ago Finland was a poor agrarian country, severely lagging behind other industrialized nations. With a powerful reimagining of its future and a sincere desire to catch up, Finnish leaders devised a complex multi-step program to solve their low GDP: creating education equality. The idea was to provide an advanced education of equal quality to all children in the country in order to bolster the economy. It has certainly been working, thanks to one of many important reasons: the teachers.
Finland has created a culture of deep appreciation and respect for education and its educators, which has helped its agenda enormously. In Finland, educators are highly regarded, and as a vocation teaching receives the same respect and prestige as lawyers and doctors. It also requires the same investment. All teachers, regardless of the grade they teach, have a Master’s Degree and represent the top 10% of students from their graduating year at teacher’s college. Each school classroom has up to 3 teachers on hand to support one-on-one mentoring in the classroom, and teachers are encouraged to practice and try out experimental teaching methods. “Didacticism” is often their motto.
The Finnish school system is clearly successful, and I won’t waste space here reiterating the many statistics which prove it is so. It’s enough to make a person wish they could send their kids to Finland for school. While that’s probably out of the question for obvious financial concerns, what you can consider doing until the Ontario Ministry of Education decides to adopt some of Finland’s excellent practices is to send your child to private school – especially an IB World school with an internationally standardized education.
Right now, this is the best option to compete with the success of Finnish students – academically and career wise. Private schools have guaranteed small class sizes, which helps reconstruct the one-on-one mentor relationship multiple Finnish teachers have created. Teachers at IB World schools have higher qualifications, having undergone additional testing to be certified as IB teachers. Private schools also provide a rigorous and competitive academic learning environment, which emulates the national culture of high regard for education. Finnish schools are famous for having an only 2% dropout rate, and Ontario private schools are known for their high rates of sending their students to top universities: usually with a 100% success rate for graduating classes!
So until the day you can enrol your child in Finland’s highly enviable education system, look for a Mississauga private school to serve as an excellent substitute!
Have a great weekend.