Before we begin, it is important to note that education is not a big commercial entity yet in Finland (and I suspect it will not be as it will be tightly controlled by the government). Remember that education is free for all in Finland, including immigrants. Thus, there are few private schools as compared to the billion-dollar tuition and enrichment industry in Singapore. The government of Finland pays the subsidised amount of those who wish to attend private schools, with parents paying the outsanding sum.
The education models of both countries are placed below:
The education model for Finland, at first glance, is much simpler than Singapore’s model. However there are four key differences that stood out:
The Finnish model started from early childhood education and ends at a a doctoral degree, whereas the Singapore model starts with primary school and ends at the undergraduate level. Let us keep in mind that education in Finland is free throughout (yes, even the doctoral degree) while only the primary school fees are waived in Singapore.
While most Singaporeans are supposed to start working only after they have graduated from universities, Finnish students can choose the vocational track which allows them to start working at the age of 16. They have also created a separate track for vocational students to continue their higher education in polytechnics which is on par with bacehlors in their country.
A quality preshool is extremely important as it strengthens the formative years of the child in the long run.
If you take a look at the education model for preschool for Finland, you will realise that they took in consideration the early childhood section with a pre-primary level. All public preschools have a standardised education system based on play-based approach and all children can attend them for free. They do not outsource their preschool section private intistuitions. In fact, from August 2015, participation in pre-primary education will be mandatory.
In Singapore, we have big players in the preschool market with many private companies fighting for a piece of the pie. The standardisation of the quality of teachers is unequal across the various schools as there are private organisations that offer certification in Early Childhood Education (ECE). The curriculum is also not standardised across the island. Some schools adopt a play-based approach while others may offen intensive academic structures. There are also some preschools which now also incorporate right-brain training into their curriculum.
Interestingly, many parents actually feel uncomfortable with a play-based curriculum as many believe the academic pressure in preschool will benefit the children more. As attending preschool is also not compulsary for children so due to various circumstances, some children may even enter primary school without attending preschool earlier and this may put them at a disadvantage. This causes a disparity of education among the children at the end of their education.
Check out the previous post: 1. State of Affairs
Check out the next post: 3. Teachers