Eleven facts about Finnish education

This post is a very brief introduction to Finnish education. I chose 11 facts which I feel describe our system the best. Later on I’ll write more about our schools and especially about collaboration, but this is to get you acquainted.

One of the basic principles of Finnish education is that all people must have equal access to high-quality education. The same educational opportunities should be available to all citizens irrespective of their ethnic origin, age, wealth or where they live. We have very few private schools and they actually follow the same core curriculum as state schools.

1. In Finland education is free at all levels from pre-primary to higher education. Even the few private schools are publicly funded. After grades 1-9 students usually have to buy their books, laptops and other materials themselves, but there are no tuition fees.

2. Every student has the right to educational support and we think that the potential of each student should be maximized. Therefore, educational guidance is seen as essential. Guidance and counselling are seen as part of evert teacher’s job.

3. Special needs education is generally provided in conjunction with mainstream education. Every student has the right to general support.

4. The Finnish education system has no dead-ends. Students can always continue their studies to higher level, no matter what choices they have made earlier.

Photo: Finnish National Agency of Education


5. Most education is publicly funded and the responsibility for educational funding is divided between the state and the local authorities.

6. The national education administration is organized at two levels. On the state level: Ministry of Education and Culture. and The Finnish National Agency of Education. On the local level: municipalities or joint municipal authorities.

7. Educational autonomy is high at all levels Education providers are responsible for practical teaching arrangements as well as the effectiveness and quality of their education.

8. Teachers have pedagogical autonomy. They can decide themselves the methods of teaching as well as textbooks and materials.

9. Quality assurance is based on steering instead of controlling In Finland school inspections were abolished in the early 1990s.

10. Teaching is an attractive career choice in Finland. Thus, the teacher education institutions can select those applicants most suitable for the teaching profession.

11. Teachers in basic and general upper secondary education are required to hold a Master’s degree.


Source of the facts: Finnish National Agency of Education