Finland’s declining education level raises concerns among lawmakers

EDUCATION LEVELS in Finland have fallen below the average of the 38 members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The OECD Education at a Glance 2022a report assessing the state of education in countries around the world, shows that less than 40% of Finns between the ages of 25 and 34 have graduated from a university or university of applied sciences.

The percentage leaves the country between Turkey and Chile.

Many Finnish politicians felt that the problem should be solved by increasing the number of students enrolled in higher education. Helsingin Sanomat Monday reported that legislators from all parties believe the problems run deeper in the education system, right down to basic education.

Paula Risikko (NCP), the chairman of Parliament’s Education Committee, told the newspaper that increasing the number of students in higher education would be futile unless the whole system was patched up – mainly by acting on teacher feedback. She expressed concern about learning difficulties, mental health issues and skills gaps among young people completing basic education.

If young people leave basic education without the skills they need, it is very difficult to catch up to the next level.

“I have received many messages from teachers that there is not enough time to focus on core responsibilities i.e. teaching and supporting learning” , she said, pointing to bureaucracy.

Eeva-Johanna Eloranta (SDP), Deputy Chair of the Education Committee, said the basic education curriculum should be critically reviewed due to declining learning outcomes among children and young people.

“We should review the core curriculum to see if maybe there’s too much, if maybe we should focus more on the basics.”

Finland, she argued, is right to focus on measures that increase the proportion of people with tertiary education due to a shift in the labor market from jobs requiring basic qualifications to those requiring higher education qualifications. In addition to increasing student enrollment, there is a need to create a pathway to higher education through the open university system.

The Finnish education system “has done a lot of good things for a long time but has given up on the good things too much”, analyzed Sakari Puisto (PS). He said daily life in primary schools should be calmed, for example by re-examining the merits of phenomenon-based learning, a concept of learning where subjects are explored more holistically across multiple subjects.

“It’s a good idea, but first you have to reach a stable basic level in basic education,” he told Helsingin Sanomat.

Streamlining teaching in basic education, he added, would also improve the well-being of teachers, who currently have to spend too much time maintaining peace in the classroom and managing tasks. administrative.

Then and Hilkka Kemppi (Centre) also drew attention to challenges related to learners with insufficient language skills.

“Support is still fragmented – it’s very hard to get in some places, and there are huge regional differences. I don’t think we can solve this problem with magic tricks, but we just have to make sure the resources are there,” Kemppi said.

Saara Hyrko (The Greens) recognize the problems with basic education but believe that a major overhaul is not necessary.

“Basic education needs to be fixed, but not by a massive overhaul. What we need is sufficient funding, appropriate group sizes and time for teachers to focus on their work. Resources should be directed to schools and groups most in need,” she said.

According to her, the OECD report sends the message that policymakers must step up their efforts to defend education. “This is yet another alarming news about the state of Finnish education.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT