Administration, Finance, & Educational Research
The Finnish parliament sets the broad educational agenda, fixes the general principles of educational policies, and frames educational legislation. The government, Ministry of Education, and National Board of Education are responsible for the implementation of policy at the central administrative level. The Ministry of Education takes a big picture approach to education. Its areas of responsibility include education, research, culture, youth affairs, ecclesiastical affairs, and sports, as well as copyright issues.
The National Board of Education (NBE) is the educational action arm of the Ministry of Education with responsibility for the development of educational objectives, content, and methods used in basic, general upper secondary, vocational, and adult education and training. It is also the board's responsibility to prepare and adapt the core curriculum for the schools and to the Finnish education system (not including universities and polytechnics).
The NBE has three main areas of operation: development of education, evaluation of education, and support services. The board has about 300 experts in different fields with a budget of approximately US$20 million, of which 10 percent is covered by sales activities. In addition, NBE uses national and international development funding of about US$200 million.
NBE supplies development, evaluation, and information services regarding education to managers of schools, teachers, policymakers, and employers. NBE works to support national education policy, to cooperate internationally, and to interact broadly and extensively with national interest groups in a client-oriented way. Its goal is to positively affect education and the Finnish economy.
Educational Budgets: The budget for the year 2000 for all areas of education was 4,696 million Euros. This includes expenditures for both the Ministry of Education (3,583 million Euros) and the Ministry of Culture (1,079 million Euros). The education budget makes up 14 percent of all public expenditures: early childhood education is 9.2 percent, primary education is 22.7 percent, secondary education is 36.9 percent, and tertiary education is 26.2 percent. This expenditure was 6.4 percent of the gross national product in 1996.
National Education Organizations: Among the national educational organizations in Finland are teachers' organizations, student associations, research institutions, developmental centers, and national boards. The teachers' organizations include the Trade Union of Education, Association of Kindergarten Teachers, Trade Union of Adult Educators, Federation of Adult Educators, Federation of Physical Education Teachers, and Science Teachers' Association. There is one national upper secondary school organization, the national school students' organization.
There are 22 research institutions, development centers, and national boards. The Academy of Finland is one of the key national educational organizations. It is an expert organization for research funding. The academy seeks to enhance the quality and reputation of Finnish basic research by funding projects on a competitive basis, by systematic evaluation, and by influencing scientific policy. The academy's operations cover all scientific disciplines, from archaeology to space research and from cell biology and psychology to electronics and environmental research. It operates within the administrative sector of the Ministry of Education.
Educational Research: One of the major research efforts underway was established by the National Strategy for Education, Training and Research in the Information Society (1995). An expert committee was set up to develop a strategy accessing effective utilization of information technology by the society as a whole. It was believed national competitiveness and employment would increase if these strategies were effective. To this end, proposals were made to increase the availability and use of information and to assess the needs and identify the means for giving citizens basic skills in using information and communication technologies. This research agenda falls within the national vision that states "Finnish society will develop and utilize the opportunities inherent in the information society to improve quality of life, knowledge, international competitiveness and interaction in an exemplary versatile and sustainable way" (Ministry of Education 2001).
An action research agenda has been established as a part of the information society efforts for 2001 to 2004. The following amounts have been set aside to research this goal: 7.5 million Euros for information skills for all, 6 million Euros for network as a learning environment, 3.3 million Euros for accumulating digital information capital, and 9 million Eros for strengthening information society structures in education, training, and research.
Additional research goes on in universities and polytechnics that are largely under the direction of university internal strategies. Other smaller projects are also funded and supported by the Ministry of Education and the National Board of Education.
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