How did Finland became a PISA wonderland?

International experts from about twenty countries acquainted themselves with the reasons behind Finland's PISA success in The Miracle of PISA conference held at the University of Helsinki.

PISA Conference guests in Helsinki

Factors affecting Finland's PISA success include the education system, teacher training and the development and evaluation of curricula with the help of expert advice, workshops and visits to educational institutions.

Kauko Hämäläinen from the University of Helsinki, who is an internationally renowned expert on our educational system, emphasises the determined development work. “Good results have a long tradition. Our 30-year-old comprehensive school system has ensured our curricula are balanced and can be adapted to the needs of individual schools. We have a history of teacher training at the university level.

Education is also always linked to the surrounding culture,” says Hämäläinen. “Finnish special needs education is based on equality and equal opportunities. In a culture of trust, teachers are appreciated, so – with the exception of the matriculation examination – our education system does not have control systems.”

A participant in the conference, Galit Toladano-Harris, the managing director of a special education school in Israel, praises Finnish culture. “Your school system is friendly and accommodating even though its foundations are robust. Professionalism is appreciated in the same way as academic education. When manual skills and arts are included in the curricula of comprehensive education, everyone is guranteed an opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

Hassan H. El-Bilawi, a senior adviser at the Ministry of Education in Egypt, was impressed with Finnish reality: “There is a special theme at the heart of your school system: social justice and respect. Finland gave me much more than I could have anticipated!”

Text and photo: Anne Karkulahti

Translation: AACNoodi Oy

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