Education in Finland is more successful than most countries in the world, in terms of number of students who enroll, number of students who graduate, and (most notably) test scores. But the best feature of all is the free higher education offered to all students–including international. How on earth is Finland able to afford free education for all students while still maintaining the high standards that they have set?
Well it is a mixture of a few things. The most important quality that distinguishes Finland is it’s unique education system which was implemented around 40 years ago. It is widely considered the best education in the world, and it is no accident. They have a very different perspective on education: students aren’t even graded during their first 6 years, and do not start school until 7. Even then, they only take one standardized test when they are 16, and spend a lot less time studying and in classes than we do. How could all of this equal better grades? Well a lot of it has to do with their teachers. They are chosen from the top 10% of their class, and are considered on the same level as doctors or lawyers.
Finland almost got rid of this system for international students , but didn’t due to opposition from students in Finland, who feared that raising tuition for international students would bring them one step closer to having to pay tuition themselves. But how is Finland able to continually afford these costs? Well it is almost entirely publicly funded. The government covers the costs of 95.9% of education, because of the strong Nordic belief in equality. The education gap in Finland is the smallest in the world, so the test grades are not only high, but consistent.
The idea behind publicly funded education follows the principles of Democratic Socialism–the principle that Bernie Sanders is basing his 2016 campaign on. This style of education could make all the difference for the youth of the United States. After all, a strong education is the foundation of a strong middle class, and a strong middle class is the backbone of a strong economy.