Literacy and numeracy of adults were studied extensively for the first time.
Finland has ranked second in a study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) assessing the literacy, numeracy and other key skills of adults in 24 countries, the first OECD study of its kind. The study, titled the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competences (Piaac), has already been touted as the adult equivalent to the influential Pisa rankings.
In the study, Japanese adults ranked first in both literacy and numeracy skills, while Swedes came out on top in IT skills. In Finland, the differences between age bands were pronounced, whereas the competences of men and women were roughly equal, with men faring slightly better in numeracy. Nearly 5,500 people aged 16 to 65 took part in the study in Finland. The “adult PISA” survey included studies of literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills with applied IT.
The survey assessed, for instance, how well people are able to understand what they read, how well they are able to utilise electronic media and how competent they are in obtaining numeric information. The participants’ education, work history and socioeconomic background were also taken into account.
“The participants completed practical exercises that are reminiscent of problems they are faced with in their actual everyday life or work. They also assessed how often they need each skill in their lives,” explains the national survey director, professor Antero Malin.
Adults got their own PISA
Learning from other countries?
The idea of Finns doing well in school is partly due to the good results Finland has obtained in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) surveys. The results of the new survey can be generalised to people between the ages of 16 and 65 who live in Finland.
“PISA only focuses on one age group, 15-year-olds. It is a cross-section of a specific situation. With this survey, we can see what happens over the years and how people use their basic skills,” says Counsellor of Education Petri Haltia of the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The standard of education has risen in Finland more rapidly than in many other countries, which may be reflected in the survey results. According to the Ministry of Education and Culture, the idea with the survey is obtaining information to be used when planning education and labour policies.
“We can use the results to see which actions would most benefit which parts of the population,” says Haltia.
KIIRA KOSKELA – HTT
LEHTIKUVA / MARTTI KAINULAINEN / VESA MOILANEN
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