Many Finnish decision-makers have estimated that the problem should be tackled by increasing the number of students admitted to higher education institutions. Helsingin Sanomat on Monday reported that legislators across party lines believe that the problems lie deeper in the education system, all the way down to basic education.
Paula Risikko The chairman of the Parliament’s Education Committee (NCP) told the newspaper that increasing the number of university students is pointless unless the entire system is fixed – primarily based on teachers’ feedback. He expressed his concern about learning difficulties, mental health problems and lack of skills among young people completing basic education.
If young people leave basic education without the skills they need, it will be very difficult to catch up to the next level of education.
“I have received many messages from teachers that there is not enough time to focus on the basic tasks of teaching and supporting learning,” he said, pointing a finger at the bureaucracy.
Eeva-Johanna Eloranta The Vice-Chairman of the Education Committee (SDP) considered that the basic education curriculum should be critically reviewed due to the deterioration of children’s and youth’s learning outcomes.
“The basic education curriculum should be reviewed, is there maybe too much stuff, should we maybe focus more on the basics.”
He considered that it is right in Finland to focus on measures that increase the share of people with a university degree, because the labor market is shifting from jobs that require basic education to those that require a university degree. In addition to increasing the number of students, it is necessary to create a higher education path through the open university system.
The Finnish education system “did a lot of things right for a long time, but has given up too many good things”, he analysed Sakari Park (PS). According to him, everyday life in elementary schools should be calmed down, for example, by re-examining the merits of phenomenon-based learning, a learning concept in which topics are studied more comprehensively across several subjects.
“The idea is good, but a stable basic level should first be achieved in basic education,” he told Helsingin Sanomat.
According to him, rationalizing the teaching of basic education would also improve the well-being of teachers, as they currently have to spend too much time maintaining class peace and handling administrative tasks.
Both the Park and Hilkka Kemppi (Keski) also drew attention to the challenges related to learners with insufficient language skills.
“The support is still fragmented – it is very difficult to get in some places, and the regional differences are huge. I don’t think we can fix this with any magic tricks, but we just have to make sure the resources are there, Kemppi said.
Saara Hyrkko (The Greens) acknowledged the problems of basic education, but assessed that a thorough renovation is not necessary.
“Basic education needs to be fixed, but not with a massive renovation. We need sufficient funding, suitable group sizes and time for teachers to focus on their work. Resources should be directed to those schools and groups that need them the most, he summarized.
According to him, the OECD report conveys the message that political decision-makers must step up their efforts for education. “This is yet another alarming news about the state of education in Finland.”
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: The Nordic Page