According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Finnish students have the least amount of homework and outside work than any other student in the world. They only devote half an hour at night to their homework. And they don’t hire tutors.
Finnish pupils start school from 9am to 9.45am and usually finish between 2pm and 2.45pm. They have longer class periods and breaks. And their education system exists to not ram and cram information into the heads of their students.
Also, students usually only take a few classes a day. They have enough time to eat, play sports and just relax. And throughout the school day, they have several 15-20 minute periods for the kids to hang out and stretch.
Despite fewer classes and more breaks, Finnish education is one of the best in the world.
What is Finland doing that we can copy?
Some ideas that we can adopt from the Finnish way are:
Eliminate standardized tests. Finnish students take only one test called the National Matriculation Exam, which is a voluntary test at the end of upper secondary school equivalent to American high school. Finnish children do not have regular weekly, monthly or yearly exams of True or False, choosing A, B, C or D, fill in the exam type blank.
All primary and secondary students in Finland are graded by their teacher on an individualized basis and according to a grading system established by their teacher, not by the school department. The overall monitoring of the child’s progress is carried out by the Ministry of Education.
A master’s degree certificate is required before teachers are hired.
In Finland, to be a teacher, they have to go through rigorous study and training like that of medical students. The average monthly salary of a teacher is 3,570 euros, or 205,917 P to 1 euro: 57.58 P.
The Finnish educational system is based on cooperation and not on competition like that of the United States, the Philippines and many other countries. Finland does not have a list of top performing students, teachers or students. Unlike the Philippines where schools and colleges are ranked as sports competing for the top 10.
Reduce the number of subjects to just English, math and basic science in the first six years to improve reading, writing and communication skills. Make English the language of teaching and learning. Teachers and students should only speak in English, even during breaks or recess.
There are only nine years of compulsory school that Finnish children are required to attend. After the ninth year, education is optional; either they go to vocational or professional school.
In the Philippines, many children graduate from kindergarten to grade 12 and then go on to college and graduate. However, many of them end up employed as grocery store cashiers, department store sales clerks, and other low-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree.
If the Finnish education system is one of the best in the world, how does the Philippines rank?
Among 4th graders, the Philippines ranked last among 58 participating countries in an international science and math assessment. The Philippines scored 297 in math and 249 in science, which is “significantly lower” than any other participating country. This was reported by the 2019 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.
The Philippines had the lowest score in reading comprehension among 79 participating countries reported by the Program for International Student Assessment.
Leonardo Leonidas, MD,
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