General Assessment: Finland has a strong, inclusive, and in many ways "cutting edge" educational system. The compulsory education (ages 7 to 16) has the highest completion rate in the world. The upper secondary and vocational programs for 16 to 19 year old students provides education and access to over 75 percent of children this age. Finnish universities are internationally recognized for their quality.
Finland has a high percentage of citizens, including compulsory school pupils and secondary students, with access to computers and the Internet. The government, under the Ministry of Education, has initiated a research project to insure equitable access to technology for all Finns. This is one strong indication of the government's commitment to an equitable quality education.
International Programs: Finland is very involved with the European Community, the Baltic states, and the Nordic countries. Among other projects, the Baltic states are involved in an environmental project involving primary school pupils working to improve environmental conditions of the waters that connect the Baltic states. Individual Finnish schools are involved in many international educational programs, one of which is "Philosophy for Children."
Needs for Changes—Future: Most Finns see themselves not only as citizens of Finland and of Europe, but also as citizens of the world. This outward looking view is expressed in educational goal statements at all levels of education. Finland will continue to improve its educational policies and practices within that local and international perspective.
One of the hallmarks of Finnish education is its willingness to state its values clearly and boldly. The objectives developed by the National Board of Education list the goals of citizenship, full personal development, participation in culture, and involvement in Finnish, European, and world affairs as essential for an educated person. This approach to full human development and internationalism sets a high standard for citizens and educational institutions.
Finns also value equality of access to national resources, especially education. As the Internet is seen as one of the tools that will enhance education in the near future, access to it is now actively under study. The Finnish government and educational establishments are very concerned about the potential disparity of access to the World Wide Web. A three-year research program was underway in 2000 to assess the extent of that disparity and figure out possible solutions to narrow that gap. This project is a strong indicator of the way that the Finnish educational establishment works at self-improvement and towards the goal of an educated citizenry who will be able to function effectively in the twenty-first century.
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