Li Andersson (Left Alliance), the Minister of Education, says preventing social exclusion is not the main objective of the decision to raise the school-leaving age. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

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LI ANDERSSON (Left Alliance), the Minister of Education, has responded to an open letter addressed to her by Arno Kotro, the chairperson of the Ethical Committee for the Teaching Profession.

The letter has received widespread attention on social media after its publication last week on Puheenvuoro.

Andersson on Monday told Kotro that she shares many of the concerns expressed in the letter, such as that about the constant insistence to revamp the education system and that about using education as a tool for capitalism, profit seeking and economic growth.

“I’m concerned,” she added, “that our education system is no longer as successful as it used to be in offsetting differences caused by the family backgrounds of pupils. This has been the most important and wonderful cornerstone of the Finnish public and comprehensive education system, and at the moment [the system] is struggling to perform this task.”

“What’s to blame is not the school but the growing inequality in the Finnish society.”

Andersson also commented on concerns sparked by the decision to raise the school-leaving age by a year, arguing that bringing upper-secondary education under the scope of compulsory education is crucial in circumstances where higher qualifications are necessary for both individuals and the society.

“Contrary to what has been often stated in public, the primary objective of the reform is not to prevent social exclusion but to raise the level of expertise in Finland,” she added.

Raising the school-leaving age, she pointed out, is not a solution to the underlying reasons for the ill-being of young people but a means to re-define the minimum skills requirements of people.

“It is necessary to also re-examine compulsory education in circumstances where changes in the labour market and technological advances are doing away with tasks that could be performed with basic education qualifications and raising skills requirements for all occupations,” she explained.

Although the Finnish education system is founded on sound values, efforts to strengthen the foundation further will continue in the years to come, asserted Andersson.

“We will grant teachers and educators the freedom to work, while strengthening the funding basis for education and striving to target reforms to the areas with problems,” she said.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi