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Matti Saarinen is a Member of Parliament for the Social Democratic Party from Lohja, serving his sixth term for the electoral district of Uusimaa. Saarinen has been a member of the Finance Committee since 1999. By training, he is a fitness instructor and socionom from the University of Tampere, who likes to read and exercise in his free time.A couple of years ago I visited Columbia University in New York, where I met researcher Samuel E. Abrams, a great friend of Finland, who has conducted a vast amount of research on Nordic and US education systems. He also has a Finnish wife. Since then, he has visited the Finnish Parliament as my guest on several occasions and toured schools in the Lohja region. In May, he was awarded the Insignia of Knight, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland in recognition of his advancement of the understanding of Finnish education in the United States.

Speaking at the ceremony, Abrams attributed the success of the Finnish education system to two key factors: the well-rounded national curriculum and teachers' professional skills. He said the Finnish approach not only makes school more motivating for children but also fosters their ability to work together, while providing hands-on opportunities for learning maths and science.

Abrams also linked the good performance of our education system to the high-quality of teacher training. He believes that teachers' high pay in relation to GDP is an important factor in attracting young people to train for the profession. Abrams was also struck by the comfort and pleasantness of teachers' rooms is Finnish schools, saying that the high quality of these premises coupled with good pay illustrates well the importance of education in Finland.

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