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Lessons India can learn from Finland’s education system

The NEP did manage to do some heavy-lifting by adopting a new pedagogical structure of teaching which pays attention to the holistic development of a child and trying to do away with the rote culture.

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As per FES, a student can choose his/her own path through the education system based on the interest.As per FES, a student can choose his/her own path through the education system based on the interest.

By Dr Maithili Tambe 

Finland did not do it overnight; neither did we. But if Finland could do it, we can, too. With the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 taking its baby steps to improve education across the country, India can take queues from the Finland one to build a strong base for a fruitful future and a better chance of a literate as well as an aware and curious human being. In Albert Einstein’s words, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.”

The NEP did manage to do some heavy-lifting by adopting a new pedagogical structure of teaching which pays attention to the holistic development of a child and trying to do away with the rote culture. But from early childhood education to bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the Finland Education System (FES), on each stage, has a takeaway that we can adapt to or get inspired from.

Flexible Nature of Fees and Education

To begin with, there are over 25 crore students in the country. And in a country like India, the fee structure is probably the most important aspect. In Finland, fees are charged as per the family’s income in the stages of early education. This is a chance for everyone to get access to the best education. And this is the stage where all kids are equally receptive and every child’s creative juices are the most active in their childhood, irrespective of their income strata. Structuring fees according to the income tax a person pays will offer transparency and make sure it is a win-win situation for all.

As per FES, a student can choose his/her own path through the education system based on the interest. Moreover, they have the freedom to opt for vocational training at the choice of their professions and not go for a bachelor’s degree at the universities. Such flexible nature of education and the power and responsibility to choose their education in India will produce more talent in India than ever before. The main motto of India should be that all are for education and education is for all.

Increase Credibility of Government-run Schools

Local authorities are responsible for providing early childhood education and care for children under school age in Finland. The plight of government-run schools in India is a known fact. Guardians’ and parents’ insistence on enrolling their children into private schools speak volume about the state of affairs of municipality-run schools and institutions. Focusing on overall development of children, qualified teachers, a well-structured education system, and a good working infrastructure will help a long way in bringing back the lost glory, and lost students, of these schools.

Notably, there are no private schools in Finland out of over 3,500 schools. Their dependence on private schools is none. In India, unfortunately, that is not the case. We need to strengthen and increase the teaching standards to students in order to augment reliability and credibility of government-run schools.

Alter Mandatory Education Phase

Compulsory education in Finland starts from the age of seven. Until then, a student is being accustomed to learning, developing curiosity and emotions, building a strong foundation by making the minds creative and flexible enough to be able to take to formal education. The mandatory comprehensive education is for nine years, from Class 1 to Class 9, and it paces the learning levels and provides multiple points of view for concepts which help a student come to their own conclusions by making different observations and through different perspectives. In this way, the observations do not remain restricted to one subject but create a broader outlook on things for the student. This ultimately results in interlinking subjects naturally and integrating different themes in a single class.

Strengthen Role of Teachers

Strengthening the role and knowledge of teachers is as important as teaching students, for they will be the medium of imparting knowledge. Teachers should be trained not just about what to teach but also how to teach. Teachers should know how to teach practical rather than only theoretical. Involving teachers in the selection of curriculum will help the teacher understand it better and will be able to pass on the knowledge in a more natural manner. Also, minimum qualification to obtain the status of a teacher should be encouraged as it will eventually help students as well as schools and institutions.

Away with Rote Culture and Attention to Application

Without sounding too critical, Indian schools’ focus is on completion of syllabus, textbook learning, and ultimately good performance in exams. The problem with this kind of setup is that it gives out a feeling that every student needs to toil hard or cram books in order to succeed. Passing exams becomes the ultimate goal and scoring high marks becomes the definition of success. The goal is not to stuff information into the brains of students, but store knowledge in their minds enough to be able to apply the same in their lives. The Finnish system is not a revolution; just an evolution. It is time India evolves its own system as well.

(The author is CEO, The Academy School. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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