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Adopt Finland’s approach to learning, school director urges education managers




School Director, Children’s International School (CIS), Lekki, Mrs. Joke Chukwumah has called on education managers to analyse Finland’s education system and see what they can adopt, and adapt to help improve the quality of teaching and learning in the country.

Finland runs an education system with no tuition and with fully subsidised meals served to full-time students. The present Finnish education system consists of daycare programmes (for babies and toddlers) and a one-year “pre-school” (or kindergarten for six-year-olds); a nine-year compulsory basic comprehensive (starting at age seven and ending at the age of fifteen); post-compulsory secondary general academic and vocational education; higher education (university and University of Applied Sciences); and adult (lifelong, continuing) education.

The Finnish strategy for achieving equality and excellence in education has been based on constructing a publicly funded comprehensive school system without selecting, tracking, or streaming students during their common basic education.

Both primary and secondary teachers must have a master’s degree to qualify for a teaching appointment as teaching is a respected profession and entrance into university programmes remains highly competitive. Only about 10 per cent of applicants to certain programmes are successful.

The respect accorded to the profession and the higher salaries lead to higher performing and larger numbers applying for the positions, and this is reflected in the quality of teachers in that country.

Chukwumah in an interview with The Guardian, informed that the Finnish education system, which has been adjudged by many scholars as the best globally, is famed for turning round the lives of young people in that country for the better.

She said since evidence abound indicate that the country has gotten its priorities right in the area of teaching and learning, Nigerian education managers should endeavour to evaluate the system and see what they can borrow to improve the quality of learning in both public and private school.

She said, “Finland has been adjudged to have the best education system in the world for many years, and research has shown that three principles have led to their success. Firstly, learning is holistic and an admired part of their culture. Secondly, the ‘Leave No Child Behind’ approach is considered imperative; and thirdly the system attracts high quality teachers. We as a school hold these three principles at its core, and it has been very refreshing and rewarding as evident in all our activities.

“Their approach to education can be summed up by “less equals more”.  They have fewer lessons per day, more break times per day for both students and teachers, less time spent on homework, less time in school, zero time with tutors at home, starting school at an older age, students spending up to three or sometimes four years in primary school with the same teacher and higher standards of primary teachers being more rigorous in those that can actually become primary teachers.

She continued, “This presents very radical and very dynamic change if a school were to adopt the Finnish education system en bloc.  So, for education managers the challenge should be what can they adopt and adapt from Finland, rather than how do we change to this style of learning.”

In doing that Chukwumah quickly cautioned that first and foremost, teaching profession in the country must be elevated to a valuable position if expected results are to be achieved.

She said, “When the profession of teaching is not deemed a truly valuable and worthwhile vocational career, adopting the Finnish approach across Nigeria could be difficult. Nigeria’s education system does face some serious challenges and there is need to improve the quality of learning across all sectors.

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