For those who have visited, lived and studied in the small and homogeneous country known as Finland will not remember the country for its cold weather alone but also for its quality, affordable and accessible education system. And for those who have followed keenly it education success stories will appreciate that its repeated success in national education rankings means there are at least a few lessons that stakeholders in the Nigeria Education Sector can actually learn.
Unlike in Nigeria that a baby in the cradle is regular nurture with that familiar sound A B C D E F G….the tiny Nordic country that also places considerable weight on early education ensures that before Finnish kids learn their times tables, they learn simply how to be kids — how to play with one another, how to mend emotional wounds.
As kids grow up, the country makes a concerted effort to put them on a track for success, thus it won’t be out of place to call the attention of the Stakeholder in the education sector of Nigeria to access the factors aiding Finland topping and winning in global education.
1. Competition isn’t as important as cooperation.
Finland has figured out that competition between schools doesn’t get kids as far as cooperation between those schools.
One reason for that is Finland has no private schools. Every academic institution in the country is funded through public dollars. Teachers are trained to issue their own tests instead of standardized tests.
“There’s no word for accountability in Finnish,” education expert Pasi Sahlberg once told an audience at the Teachers College of Columbia University. Teachers are trusted to do well without the motivation of competition.
And that’s because …
2. Teaching is one of the most-respected professions.
Teachers aren’t underpaid in Finland like they are in the Nigeria. In fact, they’re valued a lot since Finland puts a lot of stock in childhood as the foundation for lifelong development. They do not subscribe to the belief that the rewards of teachers are in heaven when politicians and those working in the Oil and the Telecoms Sectors are getting theirs right in this world.
To become a teacher in Finland, candidates must have first received at least their master’s degree and complete the equivalent of a residency program in Nigeria medical schools. Student teachers often teach at affiliate elementary schools that adjoin a university.
The result: Teachers can be counted on to know the best pedagogical research on education that’s out there.
3. Finland listens to the research.
In the Nigeria where everything including religion is politicised, research studies looking at what works in the classroom and what doesn’t often get stuck in the mud of State of Federal politics. Parents argue certain policies aren’t “right” for their kids.
In Finland, research comes with no such political baggage. The government makes its education policy decisions based almost solely on effectiveness — if the data show improvements, the Federal Ministry of Education and Culture will give it a shot.
“Overall, education in the United States is much more political than it is in Finland, where it’s much more of a professional issue,” Sahlberg told Business Insider. The experience in Nigeria is even worse.
In short, Finland gets things done.
4. Finland isn’t afraid to experiment.
One big benefit of listening to the research is you’re not beholden to outside forces, like money and political clout. Finland’s teachers are encouraged to create their own mini-laboratories for teaching styles, keeping what works and scrapping what doesn’t.
It’s a lesson for the Nigeria: An experimental mindset at the top can lead teachers to think outside the box.
5. Playtime is sacred.
Compared to the Nigeria, where free playtime has been dwindling or disappearing in kindergarten for the last two decades, Finnish law requires teachers to give students 15 minutes of play for every 45 minutes of instruction.
The policy stems from Finland’s deep, almost storybook belief that kids ought to stay kids for as long as possible. It’s not their job to grow up quickly and become memorizers and test-takers.
6. Kids have very little homework.
For all the things Finnish schools offer kids, what they seem to lack is homework. Many kids receive only a small amount of it each night.
The philosophy stems from a mutual level of trust shared by the schools, teachers, and parents.
Parents assume teachers have covered most of what they need in the confines of the school day, and schools assume the same. Extra work is often deemed unnecessary by everyone involved.
Time spent at home is reserved for family, where the only lessons kids learn are about life.
7. Preschool is high-quality and universal.
Some of the only opportunities many Nigeria kids get to stretch their imagination, get dirty, and play games come in preschool. And there are grades of preschool. The trouble is, parents are are paying for that early education according to the means, setting up disparities that could last through the child’s later years.
In Finland, parents are guaranteed everything. Preschool and daycare are both universal until age 7, and more than 97% of 3- to 6-year-olds take advantage of at least one, NPR reports.
More than that, though, the preschools are good. They align their curricula with one another and prepare kids along similar tracks. By the time kids start getting actual work, parents can rest assured the same lessons are getting elsewhere taught across town.