High-quality teacher training ensures Pisa success

Even abroad, nobody was surprised when Finland took the lead in the Pisa survey for the third time running.

Student reading

Qualified teachers, high-quality teacher training and an uniform school system were all contributing factors towards Finland's success in the Pisa survey, according to the international press.

Professor Kari Uusikylä from the University of Helsinki has provided academic teacher training for thirty years and has no doubt that this is the case.

“The quality of teacher training in Finland has been improved through goal-oriented degree programmes, which undergo international peer evaluation,” says Uusikylä.

“In addition, teacher training is still an incredibly popular field of study in Finland. Only one in seven applicants is accepted."

Finland’s Pisa success attracted most attention in her neighbouring countries and certain EU countries. The media highlighted the role of educational policy. According to Uusikylä, the difference between elite schools and bad schools would ruin the standard of the Finnish comprehensive school.  

“Critics have always said that our comprehensive school system churns out an even mass of the most talented idiots in the world, but Pisa clearly proves the exact opposite. It would appear that our comprehensive school does leave room for talented students to achieve what they can.”

Media in the UK, Belgium, and Austria mentioned that they each have a large immigrant population, which would show in the results. To prove this point, Switzerland published parallel results, in which the contribution of immigrant children was eliminated.

“This explanation has some truth to it," Uusikylä admits. “Although teachers are trained for multicultural teaching environments, they can’t avoid having to face demanding situations.”

On the whole, Professor Uusikylä has certain reservations towards rankings carried out in the field of education. “They do at times highlight quite trivial aspects,” he says.

The views held by the international media where discussed, as based on information compiled by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, in the web magazine Etusivu, published by the Ministry of Education.

Text: Susanna Rautio
Photo: Veikko Somerpuro
Translation: Valtasana Oy
18.1.2008
www.helsinki.fi/verkkotoimitus


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