WITH elections behind us, it is time to get our focus right. Of course, putting the national economy back on track will take precedence over much else in the short term. However, in doing so, we should not lose sight of the long term, and in that context education is a key sector that deserves a serious commitment.

It will be worth our while to look around and see what the world at large has tried already. The aim of the exercise should be to see what has worked and what has not. One of the examples should be the educa- tional system in practice in Finland. The Finnish believe in building systems that people can trust, and education is considered an instrument for socioeconomic progress. It is taken as an opportunity to balance out social inequalities.

Finland’s educational system does not enforce artificial merit-based system or arbitrary competition. Mutual trust, bonding and cooperation are nurtured. The Finnish believe that growing brains must not be pushed into a rat race. They focus on nurturing happy students by making their schools an attractive place.

The standard of teaching in Finland is remarkable. All teachers are selected through a rigorous process. They are required to have a minimum postgraduate degree before entering the profession, and are expected to grow themselves and add value to their skillsets continuously. Finnish teachers spend four hours at school and give two hours to their own professional development during which they are constantly engaged in problem-solving exercises.

Moreover, Finnish teachers welcome diversity in classrooms and do not rush through lessons. They give priority to going slowly and thoroughly through the topics. It is common for students in Finland to have the same set of teachers for the first six years of education.

Teachers in Finland are valued and appreciated. The community takes much pride in its teaching force. Teachers conduct regular meetings with parents. They discuss about how they can help the students grow in different aspects. Children’s personality development is given utmost importance and the role of teachers is crucial in this grooming. Teachers often take the role of mentors for their students, while there is real respect between administrators and teachers in schools across Finland.

Besides, students start formal education at seven years of age, and schools start after 9am, with just a couple of classes in a day. This gives them more time for self-discovery and other hobbies. Psycho- logical counselling and individualised guidance are provided to the students. There is no standardised testing or exam pressure on students.

Alongside the conventional stream, all students are given exposure to vocational education that trains them for various careers and provides them with basic skills. There is a balance between technology and human interactions, and between human interactions and textbooks.

Finland’s educational system does not rely on students’ test scores. It is an organised system where cultural values and creativity are given supreme impor- tance, and communication and dialogue are appreciated. The system ensures that no child is left behind.

There is a lot that we can learn from Finland’s education system in order to promote quality education at home.

Ghazala Anbreen
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2024

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