Finland: Best Education System in the World?

We always hear unsubstantiated claims that “Finland has the best education system in the world”.

Well, any Tom, Dick or Harry can say that their education system is “the best” in the world.

The real question is: Can this claim be substantiated on globally acknowledged metrics? This is because “the Best” is undoubtedly a subjective claim.

The many verifiable facts show that Finland’s PISA rankings has in fact been consistently dropping over recent years.

best education system in the world
A December 8, 2016 Washington Post feature on how Finland has consistently dropped in PISA rankings in the recent years.

For example, I can say that the cake my mother made is the “best” in the world, because my mother made it. You can’t argue against this . You can choose, based on logic, not to concur with it.

Alternatively, “the best” depends on who you are comparing with. If you are comparing with the general American education system which is nowhere near the top in PISA tests, then of course Finnish education will seem like…gold. It’s all about relative standards, isnt’ it?

The Best Education System In the World: Really?

  • If we go by recent PISA data (“recent” defined as the last 5 years, 2012-2017), then it is very clear that Finland’s education is nowhere near the best in the world. On the contrary, Asian countries are topping the charts.
  • Then people like to argue that “Oh no, these Asian countries are stressing their kids out.” Sure, then stop using PISA as a benchmark, and stop making unsubstantiated claims that Finland has the “best education system in the world”. The hypocrisy irritates me: when Finland ranks high on PISA, suddenly everyone is citing PISA. When the PISA ranking drops, then these people say PISA is inaccurate.
  • If you want to read more about the “new” Finnish education system, then here is our exclusive interview with Ms. Irmeli Halinen. I really liked her because she makes a very valid point on how you cannot simply “copy and paste” features of the education system because societal values plays a huge part in how the education system functions . 🙂

Exactly who are the people who are boasting that Finnish education is the best in the world?

  • Yep, you got it–One group is the Americans. 😀 Just do a quick google search, won’t you? That tells me so much more about the standard of the average American education system over anything else. What do you expect–the American masses voted President Donald Trump in, didn’t they? 😉
  • Another group is people who have business interests the education business. THEY have the vested interest in selling their products based on the outdated reputation of Finland having the best education system in the world. Finland used to have the best education system in the world, based on PISA. But not anymore. This is a fact.

So no, Finland does NOT have the best education system in the world based on PISA.

This however does not mean that the Finnish education system is “no good”. It simply means that we can stop spreading false statements. For, according to some academics, Finns are “master myth-makers“.