In teachers they trust

TODAY Special Report: Finland's Education System
In Finland, there are no national exams until the age of 18. Private tuition is also unheard of. Yet, Finnish students frequently excel in international tests. TODAY Senior Reporter Ng Jing Yng spoke to Finnish educators about the success of their education system.
Every Finnish school is a good school, because every teacher is highly-trained and qualified. In a two-part special report, we look at the secrets of Finland’s education model.
Published: 3:59 AM, March 4, 2013
Updated: 1:56 PM, October 22, 2013
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For class teachers, to prepare applicants for an entrance test, authorities will release study materials online on education-related topics such as pedagogical research studies. During the four-hour test, applicants answer about 100 multiple-choice questions. Even so, acing the entrance test does not guarantee a spot in one of the 11 universities offering teacher education.

In phase two, depending on the applicant’s university of choice (they are given up to three picks), there could be a psychometric test along with an interview, or an observed group activity. Some universities also select based on an applicant’s matriculation exam results — the only national examinations taken by Finnish pupils, at the age of 18.

Ms Anna Vaatainen, a student teacher at the University of Turku, is one who succeeded on her second try.

In her first attempt, she was invited by the University of Jyvaskyla for an interview but did not make it through. She went on to obtain a social work degree, and worked in an orphanage for four months, before deciding to give teacher education another go.

This time, after “studying very hard” for the entrance test again, she and three other applicants were tasked by the University of Turku to plan an imaginary school’s sports day. “I am better around people so this group activity might have worked for me,” she said.

Those hoping to be a subject teacher undergo a similar selection process, having to first pass an entrance test set by their subject faculty of choice. They will then apply to the faculty of education, which may require an aptitude test and interview.

The result is that you ensure true commitment to the job. Mr Jari Kouvalainen, a student teacher at the University of Eastern Finland, said: “Because we have to get through this really hard test, you have to be really motivated. With another five years of study, you’re really committed to this career”.


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