India v/s Finland: Education Systems
This article aims to establish the core differences between the two education systems, attribute their effectiveness to ...
DOES OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM NEED A ‘FINNISH’ING TOUCH?
From time to time, countries face issues, both global and internal, that seek to threaten their very existence, and with the world becoming more and more complex, the multitude of issues that each country faces has only grown. In the wake of these threats, be it economic slowdowns, terrorism, global environment concerns or scarcity of resources, every country needs to increase its ability to cope. Coping well would entail developing a strategy to effectively deploy resources to ensure a better chance of growth and survival in this big, bad world, and the one strategy that is imperative for every country to adopt right now is: investing in itself. Indeed, social progress is often used as a yardstick to measure how well a country is doing presently, and how well it is bound to do in the future. To this effect, a Social Progress Index has also been developed to quantitatively analyse the global standing of each country in terms of well their citizens are doing. The SPI recognizes a key factor influencing the effectiveness of a country’s coping mechanism- the mutual dependence of a country and its citizens. The power of citizens to give back to their country depends on the country’s planning and investment in its education sector. The SPI too recognizes the importance of education towards the true progress of a country and its citizens. It uses access to education as a major criterion in developing the SPI. In fact, the importance of education in a country’s growth can best be indicated by a comparison- Finland v/s India. There do exist some similarities between the two. Both the countries have certainly identified education as a major influencer of public welfare. Insofar, they have both made elementary education compulsory for students, and both of them try to ease up the process of the general public facilitating educational reform by providing incentives like subsidised or completely free meals in schools. And yet, when Finland stands 7th on the list of top 68 performers on the SPI, India hasn’t even made it to the list. So what is it doing wrong? First, India has either ignored the educational reforms undertaken in other countries, or clumsily borrowed bits and pieces without adapting it according its own needs. Now is the time where it needs to extensively study the one education system that has gained huge success- that of Finland and plan accordingly:
1. LEARNING INSIDE V/S OUTSIDE In contrast to Indian education system, the Finnish schools promote shorter time for classes so that students have more time for extracurricular activities. This is because the Finnish believe that practical learning promotes a relatively stress free environment and increases the chances of skill building, in contrast to the Indian system which relies primarily on theoretical concepts while providing little or no provision for practical application. 2. QUALITY OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS Finland has focussed majorly on improving the quality of public schools. This has led to reduction in inequity. Why this reduction is significant can be explained by the simple economic concept- demand and supply. Increasing quality of education means that the demand for public schools rises. The parents, rich or poor, would want to send their kids to schools that offer this quality. This also keeps private players away. Thus, with effective oversight of the government, more kids get government approved education. In contrast, due to the inefficiency of public schools in India, more parents are investing in the private educational institutes. Due to the existence of this nearly true perception that private schools produce better quality students, the benefits of opportunity and employment tend to accrue only to those who can afford private schooling. Whereas, for the students who can enrol only in government schools, who know full well the situation of lack of opportunity, which they suffer from already, this education becomes redundant. 3. HUMAN EMPOWERMENT One area where Finland has outdone every country is the quality and empowerment of students and teachers. Finland plans teacher training and growth programs extensively. Although India pays its government school teachers heavily too, yet the quality falters. This is because of lack of training plan developed for the teachers. As a result, the quality of the faculty stagnates. One unconventional belief that Finland holds is that every student is capable of self-analysis and thus empowers its students to decide their own learning schedule and pick their elective classes right out of elementary school. India on the other hand, has refused to let go of the fears arising student empowerment. It continues to hold centralised exams, enforce compulsory disciplines and reject the notion of students building their own ideas. Developing rationale is an aspect of education that Finland that readily accepted but India has always underestimated. The result? Majority of the student population in India is disenchanted with the education it receives.
In order for the equilibrium of give and take to be maintained between the citizens and the country, India too needs to realise that the power the education sector holds in terms of facilitating social progress and the degree to which education needs work. Insufficient attention, overestimation of traditional education systems and inability to scale and adopt some of the world’s best systems as per its own needs has reduced India’s education system to a mere process that is repeated over and over without reaping significant results. Housing 1.2 billion people in its vast lands, India needs an urgent review of present practices of education so that its benefits can trickle down to the masses, who in turn can help in ensuring sustainable growth for the country. The stronger the shield of social progress, the greater will be its ability to meet global and internal offensives, quite like, and someday perhaps more so than, Finland.