Finland, a northern European nation has developed from an investment-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. Today, the Finnish model of education is considered as an ideal approach and has developed into a yardstick for other education systems in the world.
What makes Finnish education system special?
There are certain aspects that make Finnish education unique and sets it apart from other education systems in the world.
Finland is a country that supports equality in education. Charging fees for compulsory education is illegal. Any student, irrespective of family income and background is educated.
Teachers in Finnish schools are highly educated and are given the freedom to decide their way of teaching.
Kids start their schooling when they are ready for it. The typical age is around 7 years.
The education system focuses on child development and the entire pedagogy is researched and developed on the same lines.
It is a student-driven education where the students are encouraged to think and understand information.
Finnish education focuses mainly on learning and hence there are no exams till the students reach a certain class.
Emphasis is given for special-education, so that all the students get to learn without being left behind.
Students are encouraged to think and learn by doing, rather than rote learning.
The amount of homework given to students is very less and they spend only a short duration of time at school. The school year is typically made up of 190 days and the schools are open only five days a week.
Children are provided free meals at school.
Takeaways from the Finnish education system
The points that India can adopt from the Finnish education system are:
Bridging the affordability gap
India is known for many prestigious institutions and yet, there is a gap between the institutions and the children who can afford minimal education. Bridging the gap will help in making education more accessible.
Building the repute of government schools
Finland has an education system that is entirely funded by the government. A small/negligible part is handled by the private sector. Government schools in India will be able to attract more students by improving the infrastructure and facilities.
Improving the quality of education
Finnish education makes it compulsory for children to be educated and schooling starts at the age of 7. In case of India, children start their education as early as 4 years. Despite this, the quality of education is comparatively lower than that of Finland.
Reducing the student-teacher ratio and ensuring a conducive environment for the teachers to teach in
Student-teacher ratio is another key aspect in education which provides a glimpse of the number of students handled by a teacher. The ratio is high as far as Indian education is concerned, indicating that a single teacher is given the responsibility to handle too many students. Finland has a lower student-teacher ratio. Each teacher gets to handle minimal number of students, such that each get individual attention. The teachers are also provided with assistant teachers, to help them in handling the class and teaching the students.
Strict enforcement of Right to Education
Right to Education was formulated to provide free and compulsory education to children up to the age of 14. However, though this seemed like a step towards ensuring equal and quality education, this has not been adhered by all the states.
India becoming the next Finland:
With Finland setting example for the ideal education system, not many countries are lagging in developing their own education system. India, for instance, has increased the minimal age limit for enrolment to class I, from 5.4 years to 5.8 years and is targeting to turn the minimal age as 6 years. Many educational institutions have been set up with teaching methodologies developed by people like Steiner, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Montessori, etc. The various institutes aim to nurture and aid in the overall development of children. Finland has always maintained a competitive atmosphere when it comes to teaching. India has certain norms and minimal qualification while appointing teachers.
India will soon be taking up the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which assess and scores students based on mathematical ability, science and reading. The participating countries are ranked in the order of their scores. Finland has retained itself in the top 20s, while Singapore has maintained a steady spot at rank I.
Though an immediate change may not be possible, certain reforms can be brought into the education sector and India can grow to become the next Finland.