Marja-Leena Rathje
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PISA tests


Pardon my bragging... I've written from time to time about how Finland's education system has been well-recognized for its excellence in many areas - reading, music, math and sciences. This has been confirmed by the international PISA tests such as for 2003. Recent reports for 2006 for the study of science placed Finland on the top, with Canada and Estonia doing not too badly either, as shown above. Often forgotten, hard-working teachers deserve a lot of credit and thanks!

Newer readers who may be interested might like to read my older posts on music education in Finland, and the interesting observations by a Washington Post reporter in his Finland Diary.

Image thanks to Finnish blogger Pekka Nykänen.

Update: More about Finland's education system at Virtual Finland

Marja-Leena | 04/12/2007 | 12 comments
themes: Canada and BC, Finland, Estonia & Finno-Ugric


Did I happen to mention one time that because of Finland's excellent state education system (founded by the Lutheran Church and turned over to the state after many successful years), Finnish immigrants to Canada enjoyed nearly 100% literacy rate in their language, the highest of any group of immigrants (including British)?

Peter, no you haven't, but I knew Finland's literacy rate is 100%. I've always wondered if it's because the language is easy to read and write, in my opinion, because the letter-sound connections are consistent (ie. no exceptions like in English) and intuitive. In my grandparents' day, especially in rural areas, there was minimal education available but reading and writing was emphasized and everyone had that. I'd like to see a study on that.

Did you know that Finland has perhaps the highest number of libraries, and the most newspapers and books published per population? I think it's amazing for such a small country. Canada's publishing, in comparison, is struggling.

Congratulations to Finland! Isn't that remarkable? I'm proud to see Canada high up too, and very sad about the USA's sinking literacy/proficiency scores. I've been reading about literacy recently, and studies seem to show that hours of TV watched have a directly inverse correlation to literacy as well as amount of time a person spends reading. No big surprise there, but it does explain some of the steep drop in literacy rates. I wonder if Finland has fewer couch potatoes than many countries?

Congratulations to Finland and Canada.
My niece in Toronto enjoys the Canadian school system, I am glad for her. She is growing up trilingual with English, German and Latvian.
Over here in Germany, literacy scores are sinking. I do not know why this happens.

Beth, that's a good question about couch potatoes. I don't know for sure, but I think the Finns are generally very active.

Olivia, thanks for the telling me about your niece, she's lucky to be trilingual.

Interesting how this discussion is about literacy. But then it is the root of all learning, isn't it? And when there are problems, questions need to be asked, which where I think PISA is supposed to help.

About PISA in Germany:

There was a big scandal lately about some schools cheating at PISA tests to make their students look better/have better results.
Should this be true there must be bottomless depths. Can you imagine how illiterate German students really are if the manipulated results are bad enough, with Germany ranking no. 13 in the world chart?

Great, this blog has turned out to be Finland´s fan club, or something like that ;-)

May I add one more thing to brag about: approximately 3500 magazines are being published yearly In Finland, the highest number in the world per population (forgive me my bad, bad english).

You can find more information about these things ---> (only in finnish, I´m so sorry)

Olivia, thanks for the information. I wonder how much immigration affects the results. Yet Canada has large numbers and still did well in the tests.

Viides Rooli - Yes, the Finland fan club, blush! That's a very impressive number of magazines!!! I think Canada falls very far behind, suffering competition from the US. Thanks for the information. Your English is excellent, far far better than my Finnish!

A fine record. We are doing so badly in this sphere in the UK, low take-up of the sciences. It was illuminating to read beyond your post via your links and elsewhere. Doing so, I came across this intriguing feature that I thought interesting:
'The politicians have realized that Finland, with no national resources other than its forests, has to invest in technology and basic research. However, one valuable natural resource that Finland has in addition to its forests is its gene pool. Because of their history, the Finns represent an isolated genetic population, which is ideally suited for identifying disease genes. Finnish genetic research has been extremely successful regarding studies on monogenic diseases.'

Anna, thanks for your interest in pursuing the links and more. That is indeed an interesting quote in identifying the gene pool as a resource! I knew about the research, but not put in quite such a way. Thanks!

Poor little Kyrgyzstan!

Lucy, indeed. I was a little surprised by the French results too.