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Ariadne Pfad:


Education in Finland

Finnish flag composed of different photographs.
Finnish flag composed of different photographs.

Finland’s exceptional education system has long been a role model for the international community.
Visiting a Finnish school leaves you astonished at first. It is a habit to swop your shoes for a pair of cosy slippers when entering the building, and students call their teachers by their first names. Above all the concept of including students with learning difficulties is deeply embedded in the system. Academi­cally strong and weak students, as well as students with disabilities, are actually being taught in the same classroom.
In contrast to the majority of other countries being a teacher is ...


a highly esteemed profession, comparable to that of a doctor or a lawyer. Not only do the teachers take care of the subject-specific education of the students, but also of their pedagogic education. Finnish students do not receive grades during their first seven years of basic education, nor do they have many school periods compared to students of other countries. However Finland’s students have repeatedly scored the best results as compared to international standards, only challenged by China’s and South Korea’s students. According to the Human Development Report of 2003 Finland outranked every nation in the field of literacy rates. In 2013, 30,300 students obtained a university degree at Finland’s universities, and the numbers are rising at a rate of approximately 6 % (cf. Statistics Finland).
Despite its positive aspects it remains doubtful whether the Finnish education system can really serve as a role model for other nations, or whether it can even be compared to other models, since nearly every country has a social structure that is entirely different from the Finnish one.
Moreover there are emerging debates about the mandatory Swedish lessons for Finnish students. The right-wing parties’ bills about the status of the languages and the growing unwillingness of Finland’s students to lean Swedish prove that Finland’s education system is not ideal either.
Another problem arises due to the growing numbers of immigrants in Finland. Since Finland’s legislation states that every student must have the possibility to obtain the school-leaving qualification in his native language, Finnish schools struggle with the implementation of the law.

... In the last PISA Studies 2012, indeed, a difference in scores was noticed between Finnish students with and without migration background, at least in Mathematics.
You can learn more about the Finnish education system by browsing our webdossier and its different subjects:

We wish you a good time browsing these resources!

Your Education Worldwide team

General Information on Education

The Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland provides information on the Finnish education system. On the right hand side, you will also find a diagramme explaining the education system in German, French and English. [Abstract: Editors of Education Worldwide]

The Finnish National Board of Education offers comprehensive information about the Finnish Education System. The detailed description from preschool up to adult education provides a broad overview of the Finnish system as well as of Finnish education policy. Detailed information, statistics and other sources can be obtained through [...]

Finland; Germany
The website of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) provides ample information on academic exchange and cooperation with Finland. Information only available in German. [Abstract: Editors of Education Worldwide]

The country dossier for Finland, compiled by the International Bureau of Education of the Unesco (IBE), provides information on statistics (from the World Data on Education - WDE), national education reports, education plans and policies, a bibliography (partly with fulltexts) and links to other sources. [Abstract: Editors of Education [...]

A German language document of 2006 on the Finnish system of education and science, addressing fundamental aspects such as the structure and principles underlying the education system in Finland, financing, and current issues (e.g. equity, international competitiveness).

Eurydice is the "Network on education systems and policies in Europe". Amongst others, it provides comprehensive country profiles on education systems in Europe (formerly Eurypedia". All areas of education are covered from early childhood to adult education, as well as overarching issues. Each country participating in Eurydice hosts [...]

The website which is provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), provides a broad overview of research and education in Finland, including information on statistics, educational reports, policy or international cooperations. Additionally, you will find basic country data.
[Abstract: Editors of [...]

This site provides short summaries of the Finnish school, university and marking system as well as on certificates and degrees. Most of the information is written in English.
"anabin" is an information database of the German Conference of Ministers of Education - Central Office for Foreign Education (Kultusministerkonferenz - [...]

Educational Policy: Authorities & Official Documents

This is the website of the joint Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland. The homepage has links to texts about mission and working fields of the Ministry: education (also one text about the education system), research, culture, copyright, youth, sports, church affairs and libraries. [Abstract: Editors of Education Worldwide]

While the central goverment and the Ministry of Education and Culture provide a general frame for education in Finland in termes of legislation etc., the local authorities provide the services to their population. Educational services are summed up under the category "Education and Culture". The site provides information about the work [...]

The Finnish National Board of Education (FNBE) is the national agency subordinate to the Ministry of Education. The FNBE has a wide range of tasks related to the development of education all through pre-primary and basic education, general upper secondary education, vocational education and training, formal adult education and [...]

Finnish Education Evaluation Council is in charge of the evaluation of Finnish primary, secondary, vocational and adult education. The information on its English website was last updated in 2012. Under "publications", you can find short English abstracts of the evaluations carried out so far. Furthermore, you can find information on [...]

"FINEEC started its operations on 1 May 2014. It was formed by combining the evaluation activities of the Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council, the Finnish Education Evaluation Council and the Finnish National Board of Education. (...) [FINEEC] is an independent government agency responsible for the evaluation of education [in [...]

The database Planipolis provides official fulltext documents on educational policy and planning from UNESCO member states. For Finland you can find documents starting in the year 2000. Planipolis is provided by the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP). [Abstract: Editors of Education Worldwide]

Educational Reports, Statistics, Assessments

The official Finnish statistics agency provides statistics on all sectors of education in Finland. [Abstract: Editors of Education Worldwide]

The official Finnish statistics agency provides information on indicators for different sectors in Finland. You can find 7 educational indicators:
* 20-29-year-olds without post-comprehensive level educational qualification
* Educational structure of population
* Entrance to education
* Patenting [...]

The OECD publishes their educational news from and on a specific country in this section. You will also find publication announcements like e.g. "Education at a Glance", and other studies and reports. [Abstract: Editors of Education Worldwide]

The Unesco Institute for Statistics (UIS) provides the most recent basic data on education in Finland. You will find information on the following issues:
* General information
* Education System
* Participation in education
* Progression and completion in education
* Education expenditures
* [...]

This interactive website is provided by the OECD. It can be used to compare Finland's results from different international educational assessments (PISA, TALIS, PIAAC ...) as well as Finland's educational statistics with that of the average OECD results or with the results of other countries. You can create graphs, tables and others, [...]

This website provided by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture lists the Finnish results of all PISA-Studies since the year 2000. Furthermore, you will find a short summary of the reasons generally put forward for explaning Finland's ongoing success in doing the PISA Test. For [...]

"A video series profiling policies and practices of education systems that demonstrate high or improving performance in the PISA tests."
"This series of videos has been produced jointly by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Pearson Foundation to present initiatives being taken by education [...]

Organisations & Associations

The Finnish Educational Research Association is in charge of organising the annual conference of Finnish researchers in education, of the association's publications and of the special interest groups inside the association. The website hence provides information on conferences, the subjects of the special interest groups as well as [...]

"The Finnish Society for the History of Education is a science association that was founded in 1935. The society promotes historical research concerning education and training and supports interests in such in Finland.
The society publishes the peer-reviewed journal, Kasvatus & Aika (Education & Time), which is published [...]

Unfortunately, the Finnish Society for Social Pedagogy doesn't have an English website. On its Finnish website, it informs about the society's activity, like organising conferences and seminars, supporting a youth network, awarding a prize for PhD theses. The site also provides information on sociopedagogical studies and research in [...]

The OAJ has more than 120,000 members, ranging from teachers in early childhood education to lecturers in universities. The website provides information about the work of OAJ, the Finnish education system, teacher education, ethical principles of the profession and more. [Abstract: Editors of Education Worldwide]

FUURT ist the Finnish Union for University Researchers and Teachers, also including "library personnel and other academic experts". The website provides ample information on the FUURT's activities, as well as on everything you need to know when working at a Finnish university. The union also has a special group for international [...]

In contrast to FUURT (Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers), YLL "is a trade union for all teaching staff at the non-professorial level, whether tenured or untenured." The English summary of the website provides information on tasks and activities of YLL. YLL is part of the OAJ - Trade Union of Education in Finland. [...]

SOOL is "a national umbrella organization of all teacher students in Finland". The English summary of the website provides information on goals and activities of SOOL, as well as basic information on Finnish teacher education and the education system. Furthermore, you will find a pdf document in English on "Goals for teacher education [...]

Finland; Sweden; Denmark; Norway; Estonia; Lithuania; Latvia; Iceland
SYL as founded in 1921 and is the National Union of University Students in Finland. The website provides information on goals and activities of SYL, including development cooperation, educational and social politics. SYL also publishes a newsletter ("Trending"), and [...]

The website of the Finnish Union of University Professors provides information on its goals and its work, on the profession of a professor (public image of the professor, Legislation, Ethical guidelines, Professor of the Year Directory of Professors - acessible only to members, History of the Development of Professorship in [...]

Universities & Educational Research

The Ministry of Education and Culture provides a list of Finnish universities with links to their homepages. If you scroll down in the left menu bar, you can also find a list of university consortia and Universites of Applied Sciences. [Abstract: Editors of Education Worldwide]

This page provides a list of Finnish (university) institutes and centres that are related to evaluation in education, but also to teaching and educational research. Amongst others, it lists faculties and school of education of important Finnish universities, as well as professional associations, lobby organisations, unions and others. [...]

The Finnish Institute for Educational Research (FIER) is a multidisciplinary centre of educational research based at the University of Jyväskylä. It is one of the most important centres for educational research in Finland, receiving nearly half of its budget from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and the European [...]

RUSE is the only institution in Finland specialising in research of the sociology of education and educational policy. It does international comparative research in the field of sociology of education and has established in 1998 the European Postgraduate Network together with eight European countries. The homepage provides information [...]

"The Higher Education Group (HEG) is a unit focusing on higher education research and teaching at the University of Tampere, Faculty of Management and Business. (...) Research in HEG is concentrated on the topics of higher education management and finance." The website provides information on study programmes, research projects, [...]


The educational policy outlook provides data-based information on current trends in education in Finland, focusing on policy measures to support learners and improve the quality of teaching alnd learning.

The OECD study 'Education at a Glance' presents annual data on education systems in Europe. The country notes give overviews of relevant findings for each country, in the case of Finland highlighting the improvement of teacher education.

The study contributes to the discussion on "cultures of studying", identifies artifacts, actions and mentefacts as important parts of that concept and last not least presents an innovative method to document, understand and compare different cultures of studying. Cultures of studying are defined as actions of studying within a specific culture that at the same time are shaped [...]

"Interest in market-oriented reforms in school-based education has been growing in recent decades. However, the meaning of 'market-oriented reforms' varies from country to country. This is important in light of increasing interest in international comparisons of education systems, policies and educational outcomes. There is a tendency to assume that comparisons of this sort [...]

Finland has been remarkably successful in the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) studies conducted in the first years of the new millennium. The variation in achievement is low and the educational level of Finnish young people is high in an international comparison. Also, dropout rates are lower in Finland than in many other countries. In this article, [...]


Summary of the development and current situation in the field of inclusion in Finland (1990ies to 2012). The summary is provided by the European Agency for Special Needs an Inclusive Education. The article was last modified on December 18, 2012. Please note that the original website is offline. Hence, the link provided here leads you [...]

This article published in 2010 provides a comparison of inclusive education in Finland, Sweden and Norway in order to draw conclusions for the development of inclusion in Germany. The article is only available in German. [Abstract: Editors of Education Worldwide].

"This article reviews the development of special education in the Finnish comprehensive school from the sixties to the present time. A constant feature has been the continuing growth of special class placements. In 2008, upwards of 6.1% of the students in comprehensive schools were placed in special classes at least part-time. The legitimization of the separate special class [...]

Country Paper presented at the Workshop on Inclusive Education, Eastern and South Eastern Europe. Sinaia, Romania. UNESCO-IBE 2007. The paper provides an overview over the development of inclusive education in Finland until 2007. [Abstract: Site editor's information supplemented by editors of Education Worldwide].

"The National Council on Disability VANE is a co-operative organ for authorities, disability organisations and organisations for relatives of disabled people. It closely follows the decision-making in the society, gives statements and promotes the real implementation of human rights of disabled people. The Council is working in close [...]

Fulltext of the Finnish Disability Policy Programme 2010-2015, dealing with issues of inclusion and equality. The document was published in 2010 by the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. [Abstract: Editors of Education Worldwide]

"This article examines the implementation of new special education legislation in Finland among students with significant disabilities. The data consist of a nationwide survey and field observations. In the analysis, a policy implementation framework is utilized as a theoretical lens. The findings suggest that schools and municipalities that had participated in long-term [...]

Organisations, Advocacy

The English site provides a short introduction to the work of the Foundation and their English language publications. "The Vamlas Foundation is the one of the oldest disability organizations in Finland, founded in 1889 by a teacher, Vera Hjelt. She and her colleagues wanted to promote learning and working opportunities of children and [...]

The English website of this Finnish Association for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities provides a short overview ovr its activities as well as over two of their special programmes. The Finnish website provides information on legal advice, family and work, courses and training, media, events and more. [Abstract: Editors of [...]

Finland; Kenya
Website of an Association for Swedish-speaking persons with intellectual disability in Finland. The English and Finnisch version only give a short overview over the work of the association. The Swedish version provides information on news, projects, events, ressources, links and more. The association furthermore has a project in [...]

IEA is a project of UNESCO in co-operation with the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education. The website provides the fulltext of the "UNESCO policy guidelines on inclusion in education" in different languages, a glossary and abbreviation list for concepts and termes in the field of inclusion, as well as Best [...]

Inclusive Education in Action provides information on the following projects in Finland (see: "View the examples > by geographical region"):

* Building for Independence - Developing the Accessible School
* Co-operative teaching for inclusion
* Social integration and inclusion in Finland
* Teacher Education for Inclusion in Finland
* Using the NeliMaali-teaching method to include all learners

Implementation, Practical Experience, Criticism

"This study explores the perceptions of school principals in terms of organizing inclusive and special education in two well-performing, western school systems in Finland and in Alberta, Canada. The interview data reveal that, in spite of the inclusive rhetoric within education policy documents, most of the principals were still defining their current practices using the [...]

Article by Marjatta Takala, Raija Pirttimaa and Minna Törmänen, published in: British Journal of Special Education 36 (3) 2009.
The article is based on a questionnaire sent to 133 special education teachers teaching in inclusive settings in mainstream education in Finland. The study describes their daily work and the problems [...]

The following articles are not available for free. Please ask your local or university library for a licence to the journals.

Ist ein inklusives Erziehungs- und Bildungssystem selbstredend ein gerechtes System? Ist Inklusion gar Ausdruck von Bildungsgerechtigkeit? Mit der Frage nach dem Verhältnis zwischen Inklusion und Bildungsgerechtigkeit nimmt der vorliegende Band eine alte und zugleich hochaktuelle Frage der Integrations- und Inklusionsforschung auf. Mit der gewählten Thematik soll kritisch [...]

Die internationalen Schulvergleichsstudien haben belegt, dass in allen europäischen Bildungssystemen Geschlecht, soziale Lage, Behinderung und Migrationshintergrund neuralgische Dimensionen sind, an denen individuelle Unterschiede zwischen Schülerinnen und Schülern in institutionell verursachte Bildungsbenachteiligungen umschlagen können. Gerne wird diesbezüglich auf [...]

"In this paper, we try to examine the classical sociological points of special education, especially the organizational form of special education, social background of students and the minority status of students. The material of the study was collected mostly during 2003 from one large city in Finland." [Abstract: Database ERIC]

Further Information

Beginning 10.04.2014

"The conference is a part of the research and development project A School for All: Development of Inclusive Education. The project aims at developing inclusion in schools and teacher education through school-based development work and research, with a particular focus on learners who are vulnerable to exclusion. (...) The conference addresses three thematic [...]

Last Update: 04.02.2020  -

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