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Minister of Education Andersson on the PISA results:
In Finland, the school closest to your home is among the best schools in the world

Ministry of Education and Culture
Publication date 3.12.2019 10.36 | Published in English on 4.12.2019 at 15.09
Press release

OECD PISA 2018 results were published on Tuesday 3 December. Minister of Education Li Andersson commented on the results at the publication event.

Minister of Education Li Andersson welcomes the fact that, according to the latest PISA assessment, Finnish students are still among the top performers in the world. The decline in results seems to have levelled off. 

“School is a cornerstone of the Finnish welfare state. Regardless of a person's background, school guarantees everyone an equal opportunity to learn the skills they need in life. In a rapidly changing world, Finland's strongest competitive edge comes from a high level of knowledge, skills and competence, and schools that enable everyone to learn the skills they need in life,” says Minister Andersson. 

PISA 2018 showed that Finland has succeeded in preventing the differentiation of learning outcomes between schools. The performance gap between Finnish schools was the smallest in the survey. 

“In Finland, the school in your own neighbourhood will be among the best in the world. Equality really is the secret to the success story of Finnish education and we cannot afford to lose the advantages it brings,” says Minister Andersson.

Finland was also the only country in PISA 2018, where a high satisfaction with life was linked to a high performance in reading literacy.

“We should be particularly pleased about this result. The best and most equal school in the world is being built so that everyone in Finland can live a good life,” says Minister Andersson. 

Increase in the performance gap between pupils causes concern

Despite the positive results, Minister Andersson expressed her concern over how the performance gap between pupils has increased. Compared with the previous survey, the performance of low achievers has increased and a student’s family background affects learning outcomes more than before. Moreover, the performance gap between girls and boys has increased and is now the largest within the OECD countries.

“Today, an equal right to learn is a prerequisite for every young person to be able to participate in building a future society. Under no circumstances can we afford to compromise on the quality and equality of education,” states Minister Andersson. 

Despite high reading literacy proficiency, negative attitudes among students have increased

Finland was among the best in reading literacy in the OECD countries. Only two, of all the participants, were ahead of Finland: China-PSJZ and Singapore

However, it was worrying that the proportion of students who expressed negative attitudes about reading had increased. The decline in the performance of boys was linked to dramatically reduced reading activity and interest in reading.  

“The importance of literacy skills is undisputed. They lay the foundation for all learning. For equality of learning outcomes and learning, it is important that Finland maintains a culture where reading is valued,” Minister Andersson commented. 

Actions to reduce learning gaps

The Government Programme seeks to raise Finland's level of education and competence, to reduce learning gaps and to increase equality in education. To achieve these objectives, one of the key measures provided in the programme is to extend compulsory schooling. It is a question of raising the level of competence in society as a whole.

Next year, the Ministry of Education and Culture will launch action programmes to improve the quality and equality of early childhood education and care and comprehensive school education, with a budget allocation of EUR 305 million for 2020–2022.

“Finland is a top country in education, but in order for us to keep this position, we must constantly work for the quality and equality of our education system.  Finland will continue to succeed when we ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn the skills they need in life and work. In a Finland where everyone has a right to wellbeing, the right to learn also belongs to everyone,” says Minister Andersson.

- Touko Sipiläinen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Education, tel. +358 40 1962292