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“The primary school is in need of an urgent reform, as too many have lost their motivation [to study], Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (NCP), the Minister of Education and Culture, commented in a news conference on Monday.
“The primary school is in need of an urgent reform, as too many have lost their motivation [to study], Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (NCP), the Minister of Education and Culture, said in a news conference on Monday.

Finnish 15-year-old learners remain among the best-performing in the world in mathematics, reading and science, despite a decline in test scores, according to the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa).

Finland came in fourth in reading, fifth in science and twelfth in mathematics in the sixth and latest edition of the influential global rankings published yesterday by the OECD.

The decline in test scores is nevertheless a concern for many.

“Looking at the graphs, your attention is drawn to the year 2006. We were on a great upward trend throughout the early 2000s, but then the skills started to decline,” Kai-Ari Lundell, the Teacher of the Year in 2013, writes in a blog on Puheenvuoro. “We are closer to the rock bottom than the top of developed countries in mathematics.”

“What are we currently doing differently than in the early 2000s? Or should we be asking what exactly has happened in the society that surrounds our schools?” he asks.

Lundell is also concerned about the gap between the test scores of 15-year-old boys and girls in science, which – at 19 points – is wider than anywhere else in the OECD.

He estimates that the decline in test scores could be attributable to the fact that the school system has been tinkered with constantly and that the further education of teachers has been all but neglected. “At times, it has felt like no one has any idea of how the school system should be developed,” he writes.

Olli Luukkainen, the chairperson of the Trade Union of Education in Finland (OAJ), estimates that the newly-unveiled results are further evidence of growing inequalities in Finland. The test scores, he points out, indicate that the place of residence and socio-economic background of parents are reflected increasingly in the school achievement of students.

“If social alienation begins as early as in primary school, [the consequences] will be fateful. A poor foundation in science, mathematics and reading skills have an adverse effect on school achievement also at higher levels of education: in vocational and general upper-secondary education, and higher education,” he says in a press release from OAJ.

Luukkainen also points out that the share of learners excelling in the tests has decreased.

“They will be the ones who will be responsible for creating jobs and promoting employment in tomorrow's Finland. They have been ignored for too long when developing the school system,” he states.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Mikko Stig – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi

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