MP talk

Tuula Väätäinen is a third-term Member of Parliament for the Social Democratic Party from the region of Savo-Karjala in Eastern Finland. She is a member of the Defence Committee, Finance Committee, Subcommittee for Security and Administration and Subcommittee for Municipal and Health Affairs. She also acts as the deputy chair of the Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters. By training, Väätäinen is a nurse, which gives its own perspective to her parliamentary work. In her free time, Väätäinen likes to do handicrafts and go for walks with her Shetland Sheepdog Epeli.On the international arena, Finland is known for its positive achievements, including top-notch results in Pisa rankings, equality between sexes and fair services founded on the Nordic welfare state model.

Compared with pupils in many other countries, Finnish children are doing extremely well in comprehensive school. Where we excel is having exceptionally small differences in learning results between schools, with all schools performing consistently well.

In elite schools in Britain and France, 5-year-old pupils are able to recite passages by Shakespeare from memory. Children in these countries often have long school days, particularly in families where parents have set their hearts on raising academically successful children. In China, Japan and Korea it is par for the course for children to receive hours of extra tuition after school even if they are already getting good grades.

While French children are learning the basics of their first foreign language, Finnish children are whizzing down a hill on a sledge, in blissful ignorance. They are not yet learning their ABCs and they are not expected to, but in ten years' time they will outperform their peers in most other countries. How does our school system then produce such good results and over such a short period of time?


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