May 27, 2016 | Friday

Secret behind the success of Finland’s school system

Anne Huhtamäki, Ambassador of Finland to Kosovo


What is the secret behind the Finnish students’ success in international education comparisons?


Finnish students are among the top performers in the PISA Survey, the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment of 15-year-old students. In the PISA survey of 2012 Finland is the best in literacy and science among the European countries.


The Finnish school system has no secrets: The Finnish school system has been built and developed during decades. Some of the innovations are older, some newer. No school system can directly be exported to another country, but Finland gladly shares the good practices on how the Finnish school system has been developed. Finland is currently supporting the development of Kosovo’s education sector by leading the EU Twinning-project ‘Support Implementation of the Kosovo Ecucation Strategic Plan 2011−2016’.

Picture_blog_EUICCCopy: Visit Finland/Elina Sirparanta


As a Finn I am especially proud that basic education is free for all pupils. Pupils also receive free learning materials, school meals, travel to and from school and school health and dental care.


The Finnish Ministry of Education has analysed what has made Finnish students’ learning successful.


Three main factors for Finnish students’ success are:

  • The education system provides uniform basic education for the whole age group. The core of Finnish education is a nine-year comprehensive school.
  • Highly competent teachers.
  • The autonomy given to schools.


Finnish teachers are highly educated and strongly committed to their work The comprehensive school encompasses year-classes 1–9 and is intended for the whole age group of 7-to-16-year-olds. Finland changed its school system into a comprehensive school system in 1972-78.

Fewer than two per cent of children go to private schools.

All teachers have a Master’s degree. The number of applicants for pedagogical studies is large and the best applicants can be chosen. Teacher education is of a very high quality in Finland and this minimizes differences in the standards of schooling in different parts of the country.


Finnish schools have a lot of freedom in teaching arrangements. Only the core curricula of schools are designed for nationwide application. In this way it is possible to cater better for pupils’ individual needs.

No student is left behind at school In Finnish schools a great deal of attention is accorded to individual support for learning and well-being. The principle of high-quality special education and early diagnosing guarantees that no one is left behind.


The Finnish schools have developed their best practices for decades. However, we have to keep up and continuously develop the good quality of education in Finland so that the future students, too, will have excellent results. of Finnish education is a nine-year comprehensive school.