Drop in Finnish education levels - what should be done?

Once the Pisa frontrunner, Finland's education scores are now declining. A new report published by the Finnish Ministry of Education paints a gloomy picture of educational standards in the country. It shows that in the last two decades the scores in reading and maths tests have dropped by one or two school years, and that those born in 1978 are the best educated section of the population.

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Savon Sanomat (FI) /

Economy needs an educated workforce

High education levels are a prerequisite for restructuring the economy, Savon Sanomat stresses:

“The decline in learning outcomes could not come at a worse time. The demand for workers, especially in highly-qualified professions, is increasing. Already, more than one in two job vacancies require a university degree. ... The lack of qualified workers is hindering the restructuring of the economy. The education report focuses on the proportion of university graduates in the population. To be effective in practice, however, it is also necessary to ensure that boosting the number of graduates in certain domains will not compromise the level of education.”

Aamulehti (FI) /

Don't waste talent

The new government that takes office after the parliamentary elections on 2 April must focus on addressing the problems in education, Aamulehti demands:

“The same kind of unity is needed here as there was with the Nato decision, for example. The causes of the problems in schools must be carefully analysed and measures taken to bring Finland back to the top in learning outcomes. Finland has held its own for decades mainly on the basis of human capital, and this competitive factor will become even more important in the future. Everyone is needed. A small country cannot afford to waste its talents.”

Iltalehti (FI) /

Immigration part of the problem

Immigration is having a negative impact on the track record of many schools, Iltalehti says:

“In some schools, pupils whose mother tongue is not Finnish (S2 pupils) did not even reach the level which their classmates had when they enrolled at the beginning of third grade. The study also found that if a school has more than 5.3 percent S2 pupils, its overall progress will be below average. There are many such schools in the capital region. ... Education Minister Li Andersson says the decline in learning outcomes is due to a long-standing policy of cuts. This may well be true, but it would be honest to say that immigration and related issues, such as integration, are also causing the problem.”