Republic of Finland, a north European nation that accounts about 10% in area of India (as Rajasthan) whereas 230 times lesser populated than India, being one of the sparsely populated nation in Europe. No one shall provide a holistic view on world education system excluding Finland. As we have NEP perspective clashes on the recent months, here is an overview on educational system in Parliamentarian Republic of Finland.

Finland is one among the nations that holds free and compulsory education to be the Fundamental Right for every children between the age of 6 to 15 or 16, depending upon the individual’s need one additional year is been provided. 6 years is the qualified age to enroll in an educational institution.

Follows, an outlook with different hierarchical levels of education.

  1. Early childhood care and education (ECEC):

A similar structure as Anganwadi in India that facilitates the accommodation of under school age children (0-6). ‘Educare’ model is the tagline of ECEC Institutions. Admission of their children to ECEC centres is with the decision of parents and not a mandate. Usually 10 months of parental leave (paternal and maternal together) is granted for the parents. After this , they shall enroll their child to ECEC centres or shall switch to the option of Home care Leave for 3 years to bring up the child. During this time they would be granted with Parental and  home care allowances by the government. They could resume their job after this period.

Parents returning to job after maternity enroll their child to ECEC and though they are educational institutes, but sounds better with day care centres as they are billing only for non teaching activity hours. A child to ECEC for half a day will receive free meal and 4 hours play based activities with free of cost whereas, those who stays after that till their parents pick after office are supposed to pay an amount for the day care. 289£ / month is the charge for one child. Whereas if two child from the same home are in, the charge for 2nd child is half of 1st child , 145£. To any number of child after 2, in ECEC at the same time, a charge of 27£, is been billed. From data, 14% of budget spent by municipalities are from the ECEC bills paid by working parents.

Non targeted, Play based activity learning is the key note for ECEC.  The children shall be divided into groups depending upon their age location, relationship or randomly done for the Co-operative team game spirit. Usually within 3-5 Kms radius, every child shall have an ECEC. Upon the distance or threatening encounters with the way to school, free transportation is also provided.

  1. Pre- primary Education:

Free and compulsory education starts with the age of 6 and have an one year preparatory crash course stuff called as Pre- primary education. Either the course is with ECEC or schools with Fundamental education (grades 1-9). Students who were with ECEC before age 6 would be grouped for this grade 0 and those who weren’t to ECEC till 6 shall be newly enrolled.

Free of cost, Municipalities running institutions that sets separate outcomes for individual students, which are not marks. Local curriculum and national curriculum are blended for the evaluation of outcomes which is not exams. Parent/Guardian should be a part by assisting and accompanying teachers while setting the learning outcomes and evaluation process.

  1. Basic education:

Every child from Pre- primary education, aged 7 would be admitted here. Grades 1-9 are the levels of classes designed.

Again, Free of cost, municipalities running institutions, that provides food, transportation, learning materials and supplements to every students. Everyone should take schools with closer proximity. Under special and extraordinary circumstances, changing of school is allowed. National level syllabus been drafted and declared. The Municipalities shall design their own region flavoured book that includes the national draft.

Language Policy:

Finland is a country with the largest linguistic majority (92% – Finnish) in its population which is higher than any other European nation. Finnish and Swedish are the declared official languages of the nation.

Grades 1 and 2 are with mother tongue medium. From grade 3, the 1st foreign language is introduced and as of 2016 data, 89.8% of students prefer English as second language and 11% prefer Swedish.

At grade 6, the first optional foreign Language (third language) shall be taken with the choice of student. This is compulsory for students in International schools who haven’t studied any of the official languages till grade 5. They shall take either Finnish or Swedish at grade 6, that ensure every student in the nation shall have literacy with atleast any one of the official language of the state.  Around 8.3% students prefer English as their third language.

The 2nd optional language (4th language) is provided with grade 8 which is not chosen by 90% of the students and they prefer science and technology.

Theology policy:

For every student at the age of 15, at grade 9, must have to take a theology (religious principle) paper, which is of no evaluation or not setted with learning targets. Subject should be non-confessional and with parents undertaking letter any student can take any theology subject. Evangelical Lutheran is the majoritarian Religion of the land and with no surprise 89% of students opt Lutheranism and 2nd highest paper is Secular Ethics with 6.6%. others include Islam 2.1% , Orthodox Christianity 1.6%  and more.

Atleast 3 students should enroll in a school for a particular subject to appoint a faculty else they shall take classes outside the school and should submit the attendance certificate for number of hours specified by the school.

In basic education institutions, till grade 6, the same teacher shall take all the subjects and from grade 7, individual specialised faculties for each subject shall be alloted.

There is no mark Sheet for basic education. Only a course completion certificate will be provided that certifies the student is eligible for upper secondary education.

  1. Voluntary additional year of Fundamental Education:

This is purely subjected to the choice of the student. To take one more year for fundamentals learning in depth, 1 year after grade 9, shall be allowed to be taken by the students. Sometimes during parents and teacher evaluation, slow learners and students with learning difficulties are suggested to take 1 or even 2 years, depending upon their need.

  1. General Upper Secondary education:

A three – year educational course, which shall be a preparatory for higher studies.

Anyone who has completed their Basic education (grade 9) shall opt to join General Upper Secondary education. The applicant shall be of any age group. At the end of 3rd year a common matriculation board exam should be written by the enrolled candidates. Clearing that only one public exam (18-19 y/o) in the system, makes them qualified to go for higher studies.

For teenagers without education year gap, 75 subjects of 38 working hour each been the curriculum whereas for adults and senior citizens, 44 Subjects of 28 working hours each been the curriculum. Like earlier stages Food, transportation, books, leaning materials are provided with free of cost.  Loans are also granted for upper secondary education. Only few special (optional) papers are been charged with exam fees.

Every Upper Secondary school, has been the nodal connectivity centre with the Basic education schools in its locality so that the data on passing out students been updated and streamlining of regulations with admission shall be done. Government grants to every institution is depending upon the number of students enrolled and grant for that particular grade students.

  1. Vocational education and training:

Any student after completing Grade 9, shall join Vocational Education and Training instead of Upper secondary education. 3 years course that emphasises on employability skill enhancement along with curriculum. Around 50% of Grade 9 passed outs, joins VET. In Europe, Finland holds the highest proportion of placement and higher studies students from VET.

Like other levels of education, Government and public funds are provided. Lunch, transportation are at free of cost. Learning materials are been charged. For full time students, loans are granted. 1 out of every 7 students are selected to have a part of their course abroad so that their exposure to global industry and workstyle shall be refined.

For every single student, a personal competence development plan shall be drafted. A major part of the course is workplace learning and with the later part be apprenticeship or training agreement. Students shall be there with pay and grants as full time employee for those period of time. This shall be a part or module or the course itself.

VET is structured with three levels within. Initial Vocational Qualification, further Vocational Qualification and Specialized Vocational Qualification.

The government grants for VET be divided as 50% – corresponds to number of students and year of study (student grant) ; 35% – Performance of institutions with some scales set by ministry; 15% – efficiency based, the proportion of Placement and higher studies admissions.

  1. Higher Education:

Higher education institutions are into two major streams.

7.1. Universities

7.2. University of Applied Sciences

Universities are independent legal entities that emphasises and strengthen academic research. They contribute to social valuing artistic, cultural research and preservation of them. Bachelors, Masters, Arts and Doctorates are the programs installed with universities. They also have special set of Professional specialisation programs for employed professionals.

University of applied science are Public limited companies. Their research curriculum dimensions are with the present life needs, Incubated innovations for thry Internal industrial infrastructure development. In other words, Industrial and market research. We have degrees of Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate and along with them professional teaching Education is also been installed.

Since applied sciences Universities are directly addressing the people-industry gap through its research, it is mandatory for anyone to have 3 years of work experience in any industry to join masters at  university of applied sciences. This is made into 2 years, from Jan 2020.

For students from European Union and European economic area, Higher studies is at free of cost whereas others are charged tution fees for their course.

  1. Open Universities

Open Universities are universities that facilitates the entry of dropouts after grade 9, by conducting Preparatory Crash course for higher education, which is billable. Also they serve as hub for technological advancements updates and training with the working professionals and such Specialization programs are conducted as charged packages.

There are separate educational budget at national and municipalities level. In 2020, 618 M £ (5200 Crores in Indian Rupees) is solely allocated for education by national government. Different schemes or supplements with students by the government are as follows

  1. No Tuition fee (Government pays the institutions)
  2. Free meals at schools and subsidized meal at college canteen (government pays half)
  3. No transportation fee till grade 9 and after that deduced Special charge for students.
  4. Rental allowances for those who moves to other municipalities for higher education.
  5. Loans for Upper Secondary and higher studies. Those who are within a slab of annual income, government will pay the interest for the bank loan.
  6. A proportion of abroad studying Finnish student’s tuition fee is paid by government.
  7. Rental allowances for Finnish students studying abroad.

Miscellaneous:

Youth Act, 2017:

With this act, the state youth council was inaugurated and at every municipalities, the branch of SYC was established. To check with the status of current youth empowerment and employability programs and for the real field data collection of execution of youth welfare schemes, the branch wings are coordinated and connected as nodal centres. The SYC also takes part through recommendations for the drafting of new youth policies by the government.

SYC Continuously organise Youth workshops for keeping the young minds upadated with current technological trainings and employability skills.

Promotion of sports and physical activity Act, 2015:

This act aims at providing equal accessibility of sports and physical activity to all age groups. In 2017, 149.6 M £ (Rs. 1,250 Crores) was alloted by Ministry of social affairs and health for making Inclusive sports and physical activity infrastructure throughout the nation. Every municipalities spent 25% of their budget and on today, there are 36,000+ sports and physical activity clubs in 310 municipalities, our of which 75% are government running.

National program for physical activity was carried for different age groups with different taglines.

“Joy in motion” – For ECEC kids

“School on the move” – For Primary and secondary schools, provided 1 additional hour of physical education everyday.

“Fit for life” – the tagline for adults and middle aged citizens. “Strength in old age” – the tagline for senior citizens.

Physical health of citizens been also considered as an asset of the nation.

A nation with such a progressive and landmark educational system, should have a definite strong hold on its libraries.

In Finland, Municipal and Research libraries are open to all. Public Library act, 2017 provided the way forward for Digitalisation and equity in access in library services. It has established the national Network of Libraries. Library is the highly used municipal service in Finland.

720 central and sub-libraries and 135 mobile libraries ( stands at 7 different places in a week) are there. In 2019, Finland holds the highest usage with library services. In a year, On an average, from every home, 10 visits to the public library are done whereas 16 books are borrowed. Apart from central library, 20 million books are been sold, inturn every citizen buys 4 books per year.

Grants and fund to the library are depending upon the number of residences around the library. In Finland 70% of people lives within 3km radius from library whereas 93% are living at maximum of 10km radius.

Every year national literature Council recommends 500-600 indigenous books and are been brought and distributed to every library in the nation. This logistics is been a public tender with a period of 4 years.

Library policy have inclusiveness and equality in Finland. There operates Multi-lingual libraries for non-finnish residents living in the nation. These special library are completely digitalised and one can access from the local, nearby public library and a special fund for this purpose is been created and  utilised .

Things that made me admire with the outlook are as follows:

  1. Education – A government sector with stringent regulations on standards with few private institutions in.
  2. No mark chasing gimmick training.
  3. Individual learning and Competence development standards.
  4. Teacher and parent blended evaluation.
  5. Zero pressure, single board exam, a mere qualification exam.
  6. Well structured local government and no authoritative activism of central government.
  7. Regulated tax system and finance management.
  8. Physical and mental well being programs for every citizen.
  9. Mandatory Industrial work experience for doing masters – Filling the industrial technological gap with academic and research
  10. Pluralism conservation (Minorities of language, culture, religion) and it’s yielded the social Harmony.

Any nation that values every single student and acknowledges their uniqueness as an asset, drafts the learning coupled with their own nature, assists in clearance of external and internal hurdles that comes their way, making them to realise their responsibility in empowermental hierarchy of self, society, nation and globe, shall be Finland.

~ Valavan

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