27 Fascinating Facts about Education in Finland

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The Right to Education

  • The Constitution of Finland includes the right to a free public education.
  • Education is free at all levels from pre-primary to higher education.
  • Vocational adult education is free for most programs.
  • 25% of adults are enrolled in adult learning courses.
  • 90% of the population pursues education past the compulsory level.

Big Picture

  • The school year is 190 days, beginning in August and ending in June.
  • Finland spends 10,500 USD per student, in comparison to 12,000 USD in the United States.
  • School inspections were abolished in all of Finland in the 1990s.
  • There is only one national exam – the matriculation exam at the end of upper secondary (high school).
  • There is a narrow gap between the top and bottom-performing schools across the country.
  • The variance of performance on PISA between Finnish schools is 8%. For OECD countries, it is 30%.


  • Only 12% of individuals who apply to become a classroom teacher (Grades 1-6) are accepted.
  • Finnish teachers must have a Master’s Degree before beginning their teaching careers.
  • A high level of training for teachers is seen as necessary, as teachers in Finland are very autonomous.
  • Teachers can decide for themselves their methods of teaching as well as textbooks and materials.
  • Classroom teachers typically stay with their students from Grades 1 to 6, but are always given a choice.
  • Teaching is seen as a prestigious career in Finland, at the same level as a university professor, lawyer, or doctor.
  • 90% of Finnish Teachers are satisfied with their job.


  • Finnish students begin learning English in 3rd grade.   
  • The system is transitioning to beginning English in 1st grade in the coming years.
  • All Finnish students must take Swedish and English classes.
  • They may also choose to take German, Russian, French, or any other language offered.
  • Cultural Competence, Interaction, and Self-Expression is a competence all students work toward.

Values underlying the National Core Curriculum

  • Uniqueness of each Pupil and Right to a Good Education
  • Humanity, General Knowledge, Equality, and Democracy
  • Cultural Diversity as a Richness
  • Necessity of a Sustainable Way of Living

Sources: Finnish National Agency for Education (2018), National Core Curriculum for Basic Education (2014)

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