News & Insights 17 October 2017

Why Finland’s education is fair and the best?

Imagine it’s your birthday and a friend throws you a surprise party for you with all your friends there. However, when it’s time to cut the cake, you can cut it how you want, although you cannot choose the slice you want. You may want a bigger slice of the cake, though you may receive a small slice. Therefore, because you do not want to risk getting a small slice, you are likely to cut it into all equal slices for everyone.

This is the concept of Rawls theory of justice. He talks about how we cannot say we live in an equal society unless we know that no matter where we will end up, everyone will still have an equal opportunity. Therefore, everyone will still have the same slice of cake. He called it the ‘veil of ignorance,’ as he mentions we should imagine a state before we are born where we would not know what society we would be in. Would we be happy to end up in any society, or be happy with who we can end up with? Nonetheless, we know this is not the case and people can end up with a single poor mother or they can end up privileged. Society can end up being a good one or a bad one. We know that this all can have an impact on the child’s life achievements.

Some people may debate things are fairer now, however, let’s look at this concept in terms of education. We know not every education system is equal or the same. However, Finland’s education system is ranked at number one and has held the unofficial title as the world best education system in the world. There are five reasons Finland’s education has been debated to be the fairest and most equal in the world. Firstly, in Finland, it is argued that no child gets left behind. All families, for instance, families on a lower income, have childcare which is heavily taken care of. Schools also do not thrive on competition, therefore there are no league tables as they focus and concentrate on making sure every school has a good knowledge.

Secondly, pupils do not start school until the age of 7. They also hardly get homework, only take one standardised test at the end of their secondary school, so there is no pressure on pupils. They also receive 15 mins break each lesson as they believe less is more when it comes to education. They do not waste lessons on their students cramming topics, as they investigate fewer topics and go into more depth with the few. They believe children should learn how to love learning rather than learning for exam tests, then forgetting straight after leaving the exam hall.

Thirdly, teachers are given more respect, the same level of respect for doctors and lawyers, as they need a master’s degree to teach. In Finland, it is harder to get into a school to be a teacher than to be a lawyer or a doctor. Teachers also stated that they feel more appreciated, have more value, respect and trust. Lastly, people debate that Finland has fewer social ills. This means that most people living in Finland are middle class, and there is less economic inequality.

There have been many debates about how adopting some of the theses policies will create a fairer education system in the UK. However, we cannot ignore the cultural differences, as the Finnish society has different values and discourses in how they see what is best for developing people. I am not saying we should abandon our values and take on every educational policy that the Finnish education system has, however, they are a good role model to look at.

Looking at some of the policies mentioned, I believe some of the policies, such as reducing competition, placing more trust in teachers and creating a joy for learning, will create a better and fairer educational system in the UK. This will enable all pupils to have a similar slice of the cake.

The big question is that can our education system be fairer like in Finland, or is this just impossible for the government to achieve?

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