Why is Finland #1 in education?


Until 1990, Finland was not number one in the educational field. What happened since then with the Finnish educational system that turned it into the best in the world?

This “Finnish miracle” happened when the Minister of Education in Finland consulted with her Swedish colleague, as Sweden was the leader in education, how to go about improving the education sphere. After that, Finland set a goal to be ahead of Sweden (Sahlberg, 2012).

Currently, Finnish education shows the highest performance in many international tests for students’ achievements and has top graduate rate compared to other countries. Obviously, various factors contribute to this outstanding result. I would like to look at three main aspects in detail.

The first factor has to do with the status and the prestige of teachers. Educators are admired individuals in Finnish society. There was a survey conducted asking young men to choose a profession that would be preferred for selecting a future spouse. If you think that males see a teacher as a desirable spouse – you are absolutely right! This job is very respectful and is seen as beneficial among the population (Millä, 2008).

The second factor has to do with the professionalism. Every year the smartest and the best candidates apply to universities where approximately 5700 various programs offered for instructors; and as you might expect, the requirements for applicants are comparatively high. For example, to be an educator of primary school, a candidate has to take a two-step exam: a national entrance exam and an interview. While a secondary school teacher is required to have a Master’s degree that makes her/him to receive a license to teach. His/her Master’s thesis is oriented around research on working in complex and changing environment, thinking about educational policies which leads contributions to society (Sahlberg, 2012). In addition, the educational institutes on preparing future teachers pay attention not only to professional development, but also to cultivating personal skills.

The third factor has to do with creating good conditions. From the technical viewpoint, Finnish schools are well equipped and have all the necessary materials. From the ethical viewpoint, every educational institute has its own culture, traditions and rules that build friendly relationships between teachers and students. The thing that surprised me most is Finnish teachers work less and still achieve superior results. Comparing this with OECD countries whose annual teaching hours are 1000, in Finland the number is much lower, about 600 hours. Moreover, in Finland it is not obligatory for instructors to be at school if they do not have lessons to teach (OECD, 2011). Although, Finnish teachers work less, their efficiency is high.

Overall, I considered only some aspects of “the Finnish miracle” that has promoted Finland to the top level. Every detail concerning teachers is kept in mind and solved for the benefit of teachers. Correspondingly, the teachers do their best.

So, are you thinking about moving to Finland and working there as a teacher? I would like to stop you with that idea, and propose to join us in boosting the prestige, teaching qualification, and creating similar conditions for our brilliant educators!



Millä ammatilla pääsee naimisiin? [Which profession to marry?]. (2008, February).                      Helsingin Sanomat. Koulutusliite, pp. 4-6.

OECD. (2011). Education at glance: education indicators. Paris: OECD.

Sahlberg, P. (2012). Teachers and teacher education in Finland. In Darling-Hammond, L.            & Lieberman, A. (Eds.), Teacher education around the world. Changing policies and                           practices (pp. 1-21). Location: Routledge.

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