Montessori schools are institutions that subscribe to the “Montessori method” of education, a progressive approach to children’s learning that has been in use for over a century. The method sees children as independent and intrinsically thirsty for knowledge, with its unconventional learning model being characterized by student autonomy, freedom of movement in the classroom, independent learning, and mixed-age classrooms. 

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Minister of Education Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (NCP) in a press conference about the start of the school year in Helsinki on 2 August 2018.
Minister of Education Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (NCP) in a press conference about the start of the school year in Helsinki on 2 August 2018.

 

The Finnish government will launch new pilot projects to reduce the cost of textbooks and other educational materials in vocational and general upper-secondary education.

Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (NCP), the Minister of Education, revealed last week that a total of four million euros has been allocated for the projects, half of which will be disbursed to vocational and the other half to general upper-secondary education institutions.

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Olli Luukkainen, the chairperson of the Finnish Trade Union of Education (OAJ), believes all children should take part in pre-primary education for two years instead of one before the start of compulsory basic education.
Olli Luukkainen, the chairperson of the Finnish Trade Union of Education (OAJ), believes all children should take part in pre-primary education for two years instead of one before the start of compulsory basic education.

 

The Finnish Trade Union of Education (OAJ) demands that the scope of pre-primary education be expanded by a year to also include five-year-old children.

“The society is increasingly aware of the significance of high-quality early-childhood and pre-primary education for the educational path of children. OAJ’s next objective is to have all five-year-olds participate in pre-primary education and have the change laid out in the next government programme,” declares Olli Luukkainen, the chairperson of OAJ.

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A total of 66 people were interrogated during an investigation into widespread corruption at the Education Department of the City of Helsinki, says Helsinki Police Department.
A total of 66 people were interrogated during an investigation into widespread corruption at the Education Department of the City of Helsinki, says Helsinki Police Department.

 

Police have wrapped up a pre-trial investigation into a massive corruption case where a former employee is suspected of ordering nine million euros worth of equipment for the City of Helsinki’s Education Department in 2006–2016.

The computers, mobile phones and other electronics were never delivered to the department but sold to individuals all over Finland.

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“If you are admitted at the age of 18 to the University of Helsinki, […] your average grade in the first three years is irrelevant,” says Mikko Kiesiläinen, the managing director of Libera Foundation.
“If you are admitted at the age of 18 to the University of Helsinki, […] your average grade in the first three years is irrelevant,” says Mikko Kiesiläinen, the managing director of Libera Foundation.

 

Libera Foundation has tabled five proposals to fix the higher education system in Finland.

Mikko Kiesiläinen, the managing director of the right-leaning think tank, claims that many of the reforms the country has implemented since the turn of the millennium have not been in compliance with the Bologna Process, a series of agreements to ensure the comparability of higher-education qualifications across Europe.

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A citizens’ initiative for guaranteeing free access to upper-secondary education has received the 50,000 statements of support required for presenting it to the Parliament.
A citizens’ initiative for guaranteeing free access to upper-secondary education has received the 50,000 statements of support required for presenting it to the Parliament.

 

Student unions have voiced their delight with the fact that a citizens’ initiative for guaranteeing free access to upper-secondary education has received the 50,000 statements of support required to present it to the Finnish Parliament.

While vocational and general upper-secondary education is free in Finland, students and their families typically have to pay for textbooks and other class materials out of their own pockets.

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Student caps and matriculation examination certificates on the laps of graduates during a matriculation ceremony at the Normal Lyceum of Helsinki on 30 May, 2015.
Student caps and matriculation examination certificates on the laps of graduates during a matriculation ceremony at the Normal Lyceum of Helsinki on 30 May, 2015.

 

President Sauli Niinistö revealed that he is concerned about the soaring prices of textbooks in secondary education while giving a guest lecture at the University of Turku on Tuesday.

Niinistö pointed out that the recent adoption of new textbooks has increased the costs of secondary education in Finland, possibly to the extent that it is restricting the ability of individuals to pursue an education.

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Teachers have not been offered enough training opportunities to help them adapt to the emphasis placed on digital learning in the new core curriculum, says Jari Salminen, a researcher of educational history at the University of Helsinki.
Teachers have not been offered enough training opportunities to help them adapt to the emphasis placed on digital learning in the new core curriculum, says Jari Salminen, a researcher of educational history at the University of Helsinki.

 

The Finnish basic education system has been thrown into such a state of confusion that it is threatening to compromise the legal protection of pupils and equality in further education, Jari Salminen, a researcher of educational history at the University of Helsinki, argues in a guest contribution to Helsingin Sanomat.

“Hardly anything is left of the carefully designed, thoroughly supervised and systematically developed basic education system,” he writes.

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Touko Aalto, the chairperson of the Green League, is not impressed by how the government is going about reforming the vocational education system in Finland.
Touko Aalto, the chairperson of the Green League, is not impressed by how the government is going about reforming the vocational education system in Finland.

 

The Finnish government is going about reforming the vocational education system the wrong way, views Touko Aalto, the chairperson of the Green League.

“The buzz among the rank and file of the ruling parties is that they’re going about it the wrong way, as you should first carry out reforms and then look at the benefits created by the reforms,” the opposition leader stated to Uusi Suomi on Tuesday.

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Hanna Sarkkinen, Member of Parliament and Vice Chair of the Left Alliance party.

 

MP Talk gives members of parliament the opportunity to share their views on Finnish society with an international audience. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Helsinki Times.

Finland is globally well known for its equal, high-quality, cost-effective and productive education system. The reputation is well deserved and we, as a country, are proud of it.

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Finland’s proposed vocational education reform would allow students to demonstrate their occupational skills in a real-life work setting.

Finland is setting an example for other countries to follow with its upcoming reform of vocational education and training, views Henna Virkkunen (NCP), a Member of the European Parliament.

“Recognising previously acquired skills, updating the qualification structure to correspond with the needs of the working life and transitioning to practical demonstration of skills are all excellent changes,” she touted in a speech in Jyväskylä on Monday.

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