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Finland: The World's Best School System?
Alex Steffen, 22 Dec 04

Finland, according a major international survey, has the best educational system in the world. This study, in turn, comes on the heels of several others showing that Finland has the highest rate of teen literacy in the world, the highest percent of "regular readers," and the most "creatively competitive" economy. The BBC has devoted a whole series of features to looking at why this might be true.

The Finnish education minister says that heavy investments in education are a matter of economic survival for a small, affluent high-tech-based nation. Finland spends more per elementary, middle- and high- school student than any other nation on Earth, and comes in second on spending for higher education. School lunches, health care, most class materials and university tuition are all free.

Maybe it's the schools themselves. Students stay in the same school from about age 7 to 16. Schools are local, community-based affairs, with extremely low turnover in their teaching staffs and strong expectations on parents. Students are all expected to study languages, math and science (and in Finland, girls now outperform boys on science tests). Two thirds of them go to university.

On the other hand, maybe the secret is what they don't do: Finnish students spend less time in class than students in any other industrialized nation.

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We're second! Impressive.

Posted by: salas on 22 Dec 04

And I here I was thinking it was because their classes were conducted entirely by text message.

Posted by: praktike on 22 Dec 04

The article stated:

"(and in Finland, girls now outperform boys on science tests)"

This is actually a worrying global trend which has also come to the United States. Girls are "outperforming" boys on a number of issues, and more girls are going to college than boys. Some (such as the article) seem to believe this is some sort of triumph, but I think it's the tip of the iceberg of a new sort of educational crisis that we MUST look into.

Posted by: Jesse Hill on 23 Dec 04



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