Finland is scrapping cursive writing lessons in schools from next year and will instead teach children how to type, raising questions for the future of handwriting in Australian classrooms.
The country’s board of education said learning to type was “more relevant to everyday life”, a skill that Australian experts agreed was a better use of school time. Since implementing education reforms 40 years ago, Finland’s school system has consistently come at the top for the international rankings for education systems.
Finnish children don’t start school until they’re 7, exams don’t kickoff until they’re into their teens – going unmeasured for the first 6 years of education – There is only 1 mandatory standardised test – taken at 16 yo – and the difference between the weakest and strongest student is the lowest on the planet. So should we be taking notice? ::::
93 percent of Finns graduate high school
Senior lecturer in Language Literacy at the University of Canberra, Dr Misty Adonious said that while it was important to continue teaching children how to write, cursive writing was outdated.
“The research doesn’t find any benefits for cursive writing,” Dr Adonious said. “There’s research shows us that a child will have a better concept and better memory for what a letter is and what it represents if they actually handwrite it but the argument is really against those pages of cursive, joined-up writing exercises which, in the end actually don’t change many people’s hand writing styles.”
“Cursive writing is cute, and nice, and decorative if you’ve got a leaning towards wanting to do it … just like you might like to learn to crochet or knit,” Dr Adonious said. “I just don’t think it’s worthwhile spending school time teaching kids … cursive writing.”
All teachers in Finland must have a masters degree, which is 100 percent subsidised by the state, teachers are selected from the top 10 percent of graduates. In 2013, 6,800 applicants vied for 640 primary school training posts. Finnish teachers are given the same status as doctors.
Senior lecturer in English and Literacy Education at the University of Queensland, Dr Eileen Honan agreed that while the Australian curriculum put emphasis on both handwriting and keyboard skills, cursive writing was irrelevant.
“Being able to write in beautiful script has got nothing to do with the ability to read and write productively, creatively and intelligently,” she said.
Dr Therese Keane from Swinburne University said parents were concerned about their children’s handwriting skills because exams were handwritten.
“Parents are concerned that their sons or daughters may not have the right training to sit there and write clearly and accurately, and also under time pressure,” Dr Keane said. “And so the parents are quite concerned that their kids are going to be disadvantaged because they can’t write in those conditions, because … they’re used to typing.”
One of Australia’s largest assessments, the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is currently trialling online testing, and the exam will be conducted online from next year.
Dr Adonious said the move could level the playing field, as typed assessments typically scored better than handwritten compositions.
“Handwritten essays and compositions tend to score lower, and it appears it’s because it’s just harder to read them,” Dr Adonious said. “And so, as an assessor, you feel more comfortable, in fact … the assessors say the typed ones feel more organised.”
She said Australia was unlikely to follow Finland’s lead, but that it was an important discussion to have.
“The handwriting exercises that we do are really based on very old technology,” Dr Adonious said. “So when we teach kids particular downstrokes and where to start their letters, it’s really based on how you had to use the technology of a fountain pen and ink. We actually don’t use fountain pens and ink anymore, so maybe we should think differently about where we put our attention now.”
Education in Finland is an education system with no tuition fees and with fully subsidised meals served to full-time students. The present Finnish education system consists of daycare programs for babies and toddlers, a one-year “pre-school” or kindergarten for six-year-olds; a nine-year compulsory basic comprehensive school, 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.
Part of the strategy has been to spread the school network so that pupils have a school near their homes whenever possible or, if this is not feasible, e.g. in rural areas, to provide free transportation to more widely dispersed schools. Inclusive special education within the classroom and instructional efforts to minimize low achievement are also typical of Nordic educational systems.
After their nine-year basic education in a comprehensive school, students at the age of 16 may choose to continue their secondary education in either an academic track (lukio) or a vocational track (ammattikoulu), both of which usually take three years.
Tertiary education is divided into university and polytechnic (ammattikorkeakoulu, also known as “university of applied sciences”) systems. Universities award licentiate- and doctoral-level degrees. Formerly, only university graduates could obtain higher (postgraduate) degrees, however, since the implementation of the Bologna process, all bachelor degree holders can now qualify for further academic studies.
There are 17 universities and 27 universities of applied sciences in the country.
The Education Index, published with the UN’s Human Development Index in 2008, based on data from 2006, lists Finland as 0.993, among the highest in the world, tied for first with Denmark, Australia and New Zealand.
The Finnish Ministry of Education attributes its success to “the education system (uniform basic education for the whole age group), highly competent teachers, and the autonomy given to schools.”
Finland has consistently ranked high in the PISA study, which compares national educational systems internationally, although in the recent years Finland has been displaced from the very top. In the 2012 study, Finland ranked sixth in reading, twelfth in mathematics and fifth in science, while back in the 2003 study Finland was first in both science and reading and second in mathematics. Finland’s tertiary Education has moreover been ranked first by the World Economic Forum.
Readiness to learn: The importance of quality early childhood education through playing
In Finland high quality daycare and nursery-kindergarten are considered critical for developing the cooperation and communication skills necessary to prepare young children for lifelong education as well as formal learning of reading and mathematics, which in Finland begins at age seven, so as not to disrupt their childhood.
Finnish early childhood education emphasizes respect for each child’s individuality and the chance for each child to develop as a unique person. Finnish early educators also guide children in the development of social and interactive skills, encourage them to pay attention to other people’s needs and interests, to care about others, and to have a positive attitude toward other people, other cultures, and different environments.
The purpose of gradually providing opportunities for increased independence is to enable all children to take care of themselves as “becoming adults, to be capable of making responsible decisions, to participate productively in society as an active citizen, and to take care of other people who will need his or her help.”
To foster a culture of reading, parents of newborn babies are given three books, one for each parent, and a baby book for the child, as part of the “maternity package”. According to Finnish child development specialist Eeva Hujala, “Early education is the first and most critical stage of lifelong learning. Neurological research has shown that 90 percent of brain growth occurs during the first five years of life, and 85 percent of the nerve paths develop before starting school (n. b. At the age of seven in Finland).”
“Care” in this context is synonymous with upbringing and is seen as a cooperative endeavor between parents and society to prepare children physically (eating properly, keeping clean) and mentally (communication, social awareness, empathy, and self-reflection) before beginning more formal learning at age seven. The idea is that before seven they learn best through play, so by the time they finally get to school they are keen to start learning.
Finland has had access to free universal daycare for children age eight months to five years in place since 1990, and a year of “preschool/kindergarten” at age six, since 1996. “Daycare” includes both full-day childcare centers and municipal playgrounds with adult supervision where parents can accompany the child. The municipality will also pay mothers to stay home and provide “home daycare” for the first three years, if she desires, with occasional visits from a careworker to see that the environment is appropriate.
The ratio of adults to children in local municipal childcare centers (either private but subsidized by local municipalities or paid for by municipalities with the help of grants from the central government) is, for children three years old and under: three adults (one teacher and two nurses) for every 12 pupils (or one-to-four); and, for children age three to six: three adults (one teacher and two nurses) for every 20 children (or circa one-to-seven). Payment, where applicable, is scaled to family income and ranges from free to about 200 euros a month maximum.
According to Pepa Ódena in these centers, “You are not taught, you learn. The children learn through playing. This philosophy is put into practice in all the schools we visited, in what the teachers say, and in all that one sees.”
Early childhood education is not mandatory in Finland, but is used by almost everyone. “We see it as the right of the child to have daycare and preschool,” explained Eeva Penttilä, of Helsinki’s Education Department. “It’s not a place where you dump your child when you’re working. It’s a place for your child to play and learn and make friends. Good parents put their children in daycare. It’s not related to socio-economic class”.
The focus for kindergarten students is to “learn how to learn”, Ms. Penttilä said. Instead of formal instruction in reading and math there are lessons on nature, animals, and the “circle of life” and a focus on materials- based learning.
Basic comprehensive education
The basic compulsory educational system in Finland is the nine-year comprehensive school (Finnish peruskoulu, Swedish grundskola, “basic school”), for which school attendance is mandatory (homeschooling is allowed, but rare). There are no “gifted” programs, and the more able children are expected to help those who are slower to catch on.
Schools up to university level are almost exclusively funded and administered by municipalities of Finland (local government). There are few private schools. The founding of a new private comprehensive school requires a political decision by the Council of State.
When founded, private schools are given a state grant comparable to that given to a municipal school of the same size. However, even in private schools, the use of tuition fees is strictly prohibited, and selective admission is prohibited, as well: private schools must admit all its pupils on the same basis as the corresponding municipal school. In addition, private schools are required to give their students all the social entitlements that are offered to the students of municipal schools.
Because of this, existing private schools are mostly faith-based or Steiner schools, which are comprehensive by definition.
Teachers, who are fully unionized, follow state curriculum guidelines but are accorded a great deal of autonomy as to methods of instruction and are even allowed to choose their own textbooks.
Classes are small, seldom more than twenty pupils. From the outset pupils are expected to learn two languages in addition to the language of the school (usually Finnish or Swedish), and students in grades one through nine spend from four to eleven periods each week taking classes in art, music, cooking, carpentry, metalwork, and textiles.
Small classes, insisted upon by the teachers’ union, appear to be associated with student achievement, especially in science. Inside the school, the atmosphere is relaxed and informal, and the buildings are so clean that students often wear socks and no shoes. Outdoor activities are stressed, even in the coldest weather; and homework is minimal to leave room for extra-curricular activities.
In addition to taking music in school, for example, many students attend the numerous state-subsidized specialized music schools after class where for a small fee they learn to play an instrument as a hobby and study basic solfège and music theory using methods originated in Hungary by Kodály and further developed by the Hungarian-born Finn Csaba Szilvay and others.
Reading for pleasure is actively encouraged (Finland publishes more children’s books than any other country). Television stations show foreign programs in the original languages with subtitles, so that in Finland children even read while watching TV.
During the first years of comprehensive school, grading may be limited to verbal assessments rather than formal grades. The start of numerical grading is decided locally. Most commonly, pupils are issued a report card twice a year: at the ends of the autumn and spring terms. There are no high-stakes tests.
Grades are given on scale from 4 to 10. In individual exams, but not on school year report or basic education certificate, it is also possible to divide the scale further with ‘½’, which represents a half grade, and ‘+’ and ‘–’, which represent one-fourth a grade better or inferior. For example, the order is “9 < 9+ < 9½ < 10– < 10”. The grade ’10+’ can also be awarded for a perfect performance with extra effort by the student.
If a comprehensive school pupil receives the grade 4 in one subject at the end of the spring term, they must show by a separate examination at the end of summer term that they have improved in the subject. If the pupil receives multiple failing grades, they may have to retake the year, though it is considered far preferable to provide a struggling student with extra help and tutoring. In the rare cases where a student is retained, the decision is made by the teachers and the headmaster after interviewing the pupil and the parents.
Comprehensive school students enjoy a number of social entitlements, such as school health care and a free lunch everyday, which covers about a third of the daily nutritional need. In addition, pupils are entitled to receive free books and materials and free school trips (or even housing) in the event that they have a long or arduous trip to school.
Upper secondary education
Upper secondary education begins at 16 or 17 and lasts three to four years (roughly corresponding to the last two years of American high school plus what in the USA would be a two-year Community or Junior College).
It is not compulsory. Finnish upper secondary students may choose whether to undergo occupational training to develop vocational competence and/or to prepare them for a polytechnic institute or to enter an academic upper school focusing on preparation for university studies and post-graduate professional degrees in fields such as law, medicine, science, education, and the humanities.
Admissions to academic upper schools are based on GPA, and in some cases academic tests and interviews. For example, during the year 2007, 51 percent of the age group were enrolled in the academic upper school.
The system is not rigid, however and vocational school graduates may formally qualify for university of applied sciences or, in some cases, university education; and academic secondary school graduates may enroll into vocational education programs.
It is also possible to attend both vocational and academic secondary schools at the same time. Tuition is free, and vocational and academic students are entitled to school health care and a free lunch. However, they must buy their own books and materials.
Upon graduation, vocational school graduates receive a vocational school certificate. Academic upper secondary school graduates receive both secondary school certification and undergo a nationally graded matriculation examination (Finnish: Ylioppilastutkinto).
This was originally the entrance examination to the University of Helsinki, and its high prestige survives to this day.
Students in special programs may receive a vocational school certificate and take the matriculation examination (kaksoistutkinto) or all of the three certifications (kolmoistutkinto). Approximately 83 percent of the upper academic school students, or 42 percent of the age group, complete the matriculation examination.
Polytechnic institutes require school certification for admission, whereas the matriculation examination is more important in university admissions. However, some tertiary education programs have their own admission examinations, and many use a mixture of both.
Advanced curricula in the upper academic school
In mathematics, the second national language, and foreign languages, a student can choose their curriculum from different levels. The choice of level must be done both in the beginning of the school to select the appropriate courses, and again when registering for the matriculation exam, to select the appropriate exam.
These two choices are not directly linked, but commonly students keep the level the same for the matriculation exam. Common exception to this rule of thumb is whenever a student has barely finished the higher level courses and is unsure of their performance in the matriculation exam. In those cases, a student may elect to take the easier exam.
In mathematics, the advanced level is in practice a prerequisite for the more competitive university science programs, such as those of the universities of technology, other university mathematical science programs, and medicine.
In mathematics, 20 percent of the matriculation examinees take the advanced level. The nation-wide matriculation exam together with entirely percentile-based grading provides an easy way to objectively classify each student based on their mathematical ability, regardless of the year when the exam was taken.
For example, assuming that the best mathematical students are selected first to the upper academic school and then to the advanced mathematics curriculum, the students achieving laudatur would comprise the mathematically best 0.4 percent of the age group, comparable to 800 SAT mathematics section.
The percentile equality does not, however, mean that the absolute level of a laudatur student in the advanced mathematics in Finland is equal to that of an 800 SAT student in the USA, due to differences in the mean quality of the population.
Both primary and secondary teachers must have a Master’s degree to qualify. Teaching is a respected profession and entrance to university programs is highly competitive. A prospective teacher must have very good grades and must combat fierce opposition in order to become a teacher.
Only about 10 percent of applicants to certain programs are successful. The respect accorded to the profession and the higher salaries than the OECD average lead to higher performing and larger numbers applying for the positions, and this is reflected in the quality of teachers in Finland.
There are two sectors in the tertiary education: traditional universities (yliopisto, universitet) and universities of applied sciences (ammattikorkeakoulu, yrkeshögskola, or AMK/YH for short). Admissions are based on the high school final GPA, the high school final exam (the abitur), and the university entrance examinations.
The selection process is fully transparent, merit-based, and objective; there are no application essays, no human factor in selection, no underrepresented minority support, and no weight on extracurricular activities. Moreover, the entrance examinations are rarely long multiple-choice exams, and instead consist of a smaller number of longer and more complicated questions that are supposed to test more than memorization and quick mechanical problem solving. Therefore, the selection process is very different from many other countries.
The focus for universities is research, and they give theoretical education. The universities of applied sciences focus more on responding to the needs of the world of work and they engage in industry development projects. The nature of research is more practical and theories are applied to advanced problem solving.
For example, physicians are university graduates, whereas registered nurses and engineers graduate from universities of applied sciences. (However, universities also award degrees in Nursing Science and Engineering.) The vocational schools and universities of applied sciences are governed by municipalities, or, in special cases, by private entities. (As an exception to the rule, Police College is governed by the Ministry of the Interior.)
All Finnish universities, on the other hand, were owned by the state until 2010, after which they have been separated from the state into foundations or corporations under public law. A bachelor’s degree takes about three–four years.
Depending on the program, this may be the point of graduation, but it is usually only an intermediate step towards the master’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in a university of applied sciences (a polytechnic degree), on the other hand, takes about 3.5–4.5 years. ″A degree from a polytechnic is not, however, considered legally equivalent to a lower university degree in the Finnish system. Outside of Finland, polytechnic degrees are generally accepted as lower university degrees.″
Graduates from universities and universities of applied sciences are able to continue their studies by applying to Master’s degree programs in universities or universities of applied sciences. After bachelor’s degree graduates have completed three year’s work experience in their field, they are qualified to apply for Master’s degree programs in universities of applied sciences which are work- and research- oriented .
Lower university degree graduates are also qualified to apply, but with additional studies. The Master’s degree program in universities of applied sciences takes two years and can be undertaken in conjunction with regular work. After the Master’s degree, the remaining degrees (Licentiate and Doctor) are available only in universities. All Master’s degrees qualify their recipients for graduate studies at doctoral level.
No tuition fees are collected. However, since the 1990s there have been plans at government level to introduce tuition fees to students from outside the European Union/EEA. The students’ organisations have opposed those plans. In universities, membership in the students’ union is compulsory.
Students’ unions in universities of applied sciences are similarly recognized in the legislation, but membership is voluntary and does not include special university student health care (which is organised and partly financed by the students’ unions).
Finnish students are entitled to a student benefit, which may be revoked if there is a persistent lack of progress in the studies. The benefit is often insufficient and thus students usually work to help fund their studies. State-guaranteed student loans are also available.
Some universities provide professional degrees. They have additional requirements in addition to merely completing the studies, such as demonstrations of competence in practice. An example of such a degree is Lääketieteen lisensiaatti, medicine licentiat, Licentiate of Medicine.
A Bachelor of Medicine (lääketieteen kandidaatti, medicine kandidat) is allowed to conduct clinical work under the supervision of senior medical staff. The Licentiate of Medicine is not equivalent to licentiate’s degree in other fields, but to a Master’s degree. For this reason, no Licentiate’s thesis is required unlike in other fields.
The equivalent of a Medical Doctor in the U.S. sense is therefore not called “doctor”, but licentiate. The research doctorate, which is equivalent to a PhD in Medicine, is called “Doctor of Medicine” (lääketieteen tohtori, medicine doktorsexamen).
After the master’s degree, there are two further post-graduate degrees — an intermediate postgraduate degree, called Licentiate, and the Doctoral (Doctorate) degree. A Licenciate program has the same amount of theoretical education as a Doctor, but its dissertation work has fewer requirements. On the other hand, the requirements for a doctoral dissertation are a little bit higher than in other countries.
The most typical Finnish doctoral degree is Doctor of Philosophy (filosofian tohtori, filosofie doktorsexamen). However, universities of technology award the title Doctor of Science (Technology), tekniikan tohtori, teknologie doktorsexamen and there are several branch-specific titles, e.g., in medicine lääketieteen tohtori, medicine doktorsexamen, in art taiteen tohtori, and in social sciences valtiotieteen tohtori, politices doktorsexamen.
Completing secondary school on a vocational program with full classes on a three-year curriculum provides a formal qualification for further studies. However, it may prove necessary to obtain post-secondary education before being admitted to a university, as the entrance examinations require a relatively high level of knowledge.
Post-secondary education is provided by municipal schools or independent ‘adult education centers’, which can give either vocational education or teaching at comprehensive or upper secondary school levels. It is possible to obtain the matriculation diploma, or to better the comprehensive school grades, in these programs.
A new trade can also be learned by an adult at an adult education centre (aikuiskoulutuskeskus, vuxenutbildningscenter), for example, if structural change of the economy has made the old trade redundant.
In universities, the “Open University” (Finnish: Avoin yliopisto, Swedish: öppet universitet) program enables people without student status to enroll in individual university courses. There are no requirements, but there is a modest tuition fee (e.g., 60 euros per course). Universities of applied sciences have their own similar program (Finnish: Avoin ammattikorkeakoulu, Swedish: öppen högskola).
While “Open University” students cannot pursue studies towards a degree, they may, after passing a sufficient number of separately determined courses with a sufficiently high grade point average, be eligible for transfer into an undergraduate degree program.
A third branch of adult education is formed by the so-called vapaa sivistystyö, the “Free Education”. This is formed by the partially state-funded, independent educational institutes offering diverse courses varying in length and academic level.
The purpose of the “Free Education” is not to provide professional or degree-oriented education but to “support the multifaceted development of personality, the ability to act in the community and to pursue the fulfillment of democracy, equality and diversity in the society.”
Historically, the “Free education” stems from the late 19th century efforts to educate the general populace with little previous academic experience.
The “Free Education” is offered by:
- 206 kansalaisopisto or työväenopisto (Citizens’ or Workers’ Institutes)
- 88 kansanopisto (People’s Institutes)
- 14 Sports’ training centers (Finnish: liikunnan koulutuskeskus)
- 20 Summer universities (Finnish: kesäyliopisto)
- 11 Study Centers (Finnish: opintokeskus)
The most common type of “Free Education” is a kansalaisopisto, sometimes called työväenopisto for historical reasons. These are mostly evening-type municipal institutions offering language, handicraft and humanities courses.
The academic level varies strongly, and many courses do not require any requisite knowledge. The kansanopistos, on the other hand, are boarding-schools, often maintained by associations with either a strong ideological or religious mission.
Also here, the academic level varies strongly. In all these institutions, the courses carry a modest tuition. The Sports’ training centers are institutions for the professional or semi-professional sportsmen’s training, while Summer universities and study centers are auxiliary bodies for the organization of Free Education.
The ongoing Bologna Process blurs the distinction between vocational and academic qualifications. In some fields, new postgraduate degrees have been introduced. Co-operation between the different systems is rising and some integration will occur (although not without a substantial amount of pressure).
This results from not only the Bologna Process but also the goal of Finnish politicians — to educate the vast majority of Finns to a higher degree (ca. 60–70 percent of each annual cohort enter higher education).
In recent years, a cut in the number of new student places has often been called for by the economic sphere, as well as trade and student unions, because of an ongoing trend of rising academic unemployment, which is interpreted as a result of the steep increase in student places in higher education in the 1990s.
In particular, some degrees in universities of applied sciences (AMK/YH) have suffered inflation. In a reflection of this current belief, the Ministry of Education has recently decreed a nationwide cut of 10 percent in new student places in universities of applied sciences to be applied starting from 2007 and 2008.
It is still largely undecided whether (and when) some of those cuts could be redistributed to areas in need of a more highly educated work force. In 2001 and 2002, university graduates had a 3.7 percent unemployment rate, and university of applied sciences graduates had 8 percent, which is on a par with the general unemployment rate (see the OECD report).
An increase in vocational school student places might be preferred, as a shortage of basic workforce such as plumbers and construction workers is widely acknowledged in Finland.
It should also be noted that retiring age groups are bigger than the ones entering higher education in Finland at present and for quite some time into the foreseeable future. If the current number of student places were kept unchanged to the year 2020, for example, Eastern Finland would have enough student places for 103 percent of the estimated size of the age group 19-21.
Higher education system restructuring
Due to globalization and increasing competition for diminishing younger age groups, system-wide restructuring has been called for by the Ministry of Education. Since 2006 all institutions of higher education have been sharing methods of cooperation. The total number of institutions is expected to drop significantly within 10–15 years.
The process within universities began with merger of the University of Kuopio and the University of Joensuu into the University of Eastern Finland in 2010. In Helsinki, three local universities, namely Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki School of Economics and University of Art and Design Helsinki, merged to a new Aalto University on August 1, 2009. Also several universities of applied sciences have announced mergers (such as Haaga and Helia, which merged into Haaga-Helia in 2007).
New methods of cooperation such as consortia and federations have been introduced within universities (e.g., University of Turku and Turku School of Economics Consortium). Partnerships between traditional universities and universities of applied sciences are also developing (e.g., the University of Kuopio and Savonia University of Applied Sciences formed the Northern Savonia Higher Education Consortium).
In general, such system-wide change closely follows the pattern established in Central Europe and the United States and Spain and Hungary.
In 2011, documentary filmmaker, Bob Compton, and Harvard researcher, Dr. Tony Wagner, researched the Finnish school system and its excellence. The result of their research is the film, “The Finland Phenomenon: Inside the World’s Most Surprising School System”.
Schools in Finland grant pupils 2-5 holiday days in the autumn. Some families in the Helsinki area take schoolchildren on holidays when the trips abroad are cheaper. Trips during the school year are frowned upon by the Trade Union of Education in Finland (OAJ). This accumulated also discussion in local newspaper.
One of the competitive advantages in Finland has been ability in foreign language. All students learn at least two foreign languages, mainly English and obligatory Swedish, up to high school.
A citizens’ initiative to remove obligatory Swedish from education in favor of other languages was accepted for parliamentary vote in 2014.
European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System
Finnish National Agency for Education
List of universities in Finland
List of schools in Finland
Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
University Admissions Finland
Finnish educational authorities
OECD report on education in Finland
OECD Education Policy Outlook: Finland
Information on education in Finland, OECD – Contains indicators and information about Finland and how it compares to other OECD and non-OECD countries
Diagram of Finnish education system, OECD – Using 1997 ISCED classification of programmes and typical ages. Also in country language
Vocational Education in Finland, UNESCO-UNEVOC
PISA 2006 and the Finnish school system
World Economic Forum report
Webdossier on Education in Finland, provided by the German Education Server