Thousands of visitors have come to Finland to learn about the educational system, schools and teachers since the beginning of the 2000s. According to the National Agency for Education (OPH), Finland has hosted more than 16,000 guests from 114 countries from 2004 to 2019.
Finland became the focus for interest in 2001 when the first PISA results were published. The main emphasis in PISA 2011 was on reading literacy with Finland as the top performer. Since then Finland rapidly gained a reputation of a country with an education well-functioning system that produced good learning results. Educationalists all over the world wanted to come and learn about this small and remote country and its excellent education system.
The PISA test is done every three years. Finland is among the top performers although the results have not been as good as in the early years. However, Finland is still interesting to educationalists all over the world, because it is known for its good learning outcomes and a child-friendly and encouraging approach.
Surprised and disappointed visitors
Visitors are interested in those aspects which are different. One recurring topic is the strong autonomy of education providers and schools. Visitors are surprised that the low level of control and monitoring measures can still produce good results.
Teachers and their work are also found interesting. Finnish teachers are well trained and they are esteemed in society. OPH says they are more independent than in many other countries and their work is not formally evaluated nor are schools inspected. Therefore teachers and schools enjoy a high level of trust.
Sometimes visitors want to find out the ‘Finnish secret’, the recipe to excellent learning results that could be copied. Some of the visitors have been disappointed that such a recipe does not exist. Another disappointment can be that Finnish schools seems ‘ordinary’, that on the surface they are like schools anywhere in the world.