An alternative to extending compulsory education   (Published: 21.12.2020)

The Finnish education system/school system have received enormous attention in the world after the Second World War and in the reform of the education system. The development of the Finnish education sector is based on the history of the country, where neighboring countries were directing the development taking place in Finland, on which the school system of independent Finland was later built. Also, Finland's EU membership has had concerns about being involved in European and other international development.

On the development of education

In the history of education, these things are also known by a functional definition - education is about bringing it up. The functional definition of education also includes a choice to define a sector-wide starting point. Today, the situation has also changed in terms of who is involved in the development of education and training systems. The question of the agrarian society is also repeated in the information society - which comes first, the egg or the chicken?

It can also be based on the needs of the local community and society, the global world, which are developed by the UN agencies UNESCO and UNICEF, the Organization of Industrialized Countries (OECD) and numerous other independent support activities in the education sector on content and social issues. Today, in the world of change management, teaching issues, together with environmental issues, are one of the most important content issues in international cooperation.

Teaching's own needs for change

At both national and international level, the reform of the education sector and education systems will start in the four core areas of the teaching and learning process as follows:

(1) National vision and strategy for the development of the education sector with its social values.

(2) What are the learning contents and their distribution throughout the learning process.

(3) Ensuring reforms in teaching through methodological and teacher training reforms.

(4) The fourth issue relates to the assessment of the impact of learning/reforms on the learner as well.

The reform of Finland's primary school system, which began in the 1960s and was implemented in the 1970s, included the four strategic areas described above. In particular, the core issue of the Finnish primary school reform was a new way of thinking about issues related to the social dimension in education. In other countries, it became a starting point only in later programs, as is the case with the current Sustainable Development 2030 Agenda. Finland has also been one of the world's leading countries in the evaluation of education. In University of Jyväskylä, valuable development work has been done in this sector, especially regarding the feedback received by the student.

Finland's historical choices

When assessing the development of the value world and competence of Finnish society, Finland's idea and knowledge history are usually divided into two parts according to under whom Finns built their own identity. Both the Swedish rule and Russian autonomy have influenced the content of Finnishness and the values ​​and mechanisms of today's society.

Finland as part of the Kingdom of Sweden from the 12th century onwards was flagged to the West through cultural crusades and later Lutheran Protestantism. It was not until Finland joined the European Union that Finnish students began to apply to a greater extent for Catholic universities and study programs in Europe. The teachings of the Protestant religion and the ecclesiastical system also spread to the western parts of present-day Finland, with the Russian Orthodox religion and way of life spreading only to the eastern parts of the country and to the Skolt Sámi region of Eastern Lapland.

Finland also joined American migration in the 18th century, where Sweden’s forest region Finnish migrants were actively involved in the Swedish migration to the mouth of the Delaware River and its sheltered area, establishing and being involved in creating a constitution for the North American United States, which was adopted in Delaware as the world's first state constitution.

More than a hundred years of coexistence with imperial Russia is another significant stage in Finland's development into an independent nation. The relocation of the Russian capital to St. Petersburg was both a threat and an opportunity for Finnishness and domestic development. The same situation is also involved in Finland's relations with the European Community.

An elementary school was born, its own language and its own mind, which was learning-centered and emphasized things other than Orthodox religion. The proximity of St. Petersburg and Russia's social backwardness was an opportunity for many Finns to learn. Finland had its own economic life, which had markets in Finland, North-West Russia and later also abroad. The Russian bag-body trading institution ended and turned in the opposite direction. This "export business oriented Finnishness" continued until the end of the Soviet Union. The world has changed globally, not just in Europe and Eastern trade.

New choice up front

Extending the compulsory school age to 18 years is a same class subject matter in knowledge business, not only as a question to education funding. The reform and its consequences will impact on social setting and economic performance. It is not just a matter of three years, but much more, which will have an impact on what kind of releases from the new kind of teaching structure will be completed if the bill materializes in the form prepared by the government. UNESCO has been preparing a new type of grouping of education domains for a lifelong learning process a few years ago.

Continuing the tradition of the “two trades” described above is about reforming the current secondary and higher education in EU-Finland. Finnish society must be able to make an analysis of where we are going and what are the choices that will be made when we formulate a new kind of internationalization program for Finnish business based on know-how in the global market. Even if fate gives us a bunch of bad cards, we must learn to play with the cards we have been dealt.

On the content of the reform

Extending the compulsory school age to 18 is not one of the above 4 + 1 strategic issue. It is a matter of institutional development that cannot start a bill in parliament. The replacement of the parallel school system with a reformed primary school system came to the parliamentary debate with a delay of several years after the establishment of a school reform association in the Kiukainen municipality in Satakunta country on the initiative of local teachers and industry representatives. The Reform Association was established to meet labor needs at a large leather factory in the municipality.

What is meant by extending compulsory school age and how does it relate to the development strategy of the entire Finnish education sector? Should the reform invest in teaching content, buildings, teaching infrastructure, digitization and artificial intelligence, teacher training or student evaluation? With the help of all these, Finland could once again become the number one in Europe and the world in international comparisons, such as PISA, TIMMS and PIRLS comparisons in its time.

Doing homework?

Has the Finnish government forgotten the good preparation of the education sector in the field of school reform in the world-renowned education sector? In the export of educational know-how, Finland is implementing an export strategy in which the National Board of Education under the Ministry of Education and Culture acts as a national player in complex service exports in accordance with the foreign trade model of the former Soviet Union.

Exports of services are one of the most demanding areas of export trade, where diverse expertise in different areas is required. Where have officials in the education sector acquired such expertise as developers? Could there be a similar halo phenomenon on the issue of continuing compulsory education, where things have progressed without alternative models at an early stage of preparation.

Refresher courses for administrative staff

Or could things be taken forward by re-examining the material used in the drafting of the law and holding refresher courses in the archives of the Finnish School of Education's Institute for Educational Research in Jyväskylä. The refresher courses could benefit from the many years of research and development work that has been done to assess the identification and teaching of an emeritus professor in terms of the student's own overall development in lifelong learning.

That would be the beginning of a new era

The lesson is to bring up, where at an older age the individual determines the speed of march and the direction of his steps. During the 2020 corona pandemic, much has been learned in the education sector about individualizing teaching. Finland could bring together an expert panel and create an alternative to the current government's proposal to extend compulsory schooling to 18 years of age. With this law, Finland could create an approach that can be equated with the preparation of the Finnish primary school reform as one of the model examples of the preparation of the education reform. There is already a demand for such an approach in the implementation of Agenda 2030 in the former poor colonies and many transition economies.


© Asumer Oy / Heikki K. Auvinen, 20.12.2020 - All rights reserved

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