By far the best known and most successful Finnish innovation on an international level is our comprehensive school system. The Finnish school system was overhauled in one fell swoop by a parliamentary decision at the beginning of the 1970s, with the implementation of the comprehensive school starting from northern Finland soon after. Naturally the new system suffered from a dearth of qualified teachers to start with. In 1972, after sitting through my matriculation exam, I worked as an English teacher in various schools in Enontekiö, the northernmost part of our country, when the first comprehensive schools were set up.
As a sign of a more international future to come, English had been selected as one of the subjects of the new school system, to be taught from the third grade onwards.
The overhaul of the school system was radical and created the foundation for Finland's success over the next few decades. I believe that Nokia was propelled to success by the Finnish comprehensive school, which helped Finnish pupils grow into international adults. Later on, international PISA results have confirmed that the Finnish educational system is among the best in the world.
Forty-two years have now passed, and our school system is in dire need of a new reform. I think the basic values have remained the same: the school must bolster pupils' identity. It must provide children all over Finland with self-confidence and pride in their own region and country, while also instilling the shared European values in them.
In cooperation with homes, the school system must help children grow into honest and fair adults. This fosters trust in society, the basis of a modern democracy.
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