The comparative analysis of an education system in Finland and Kazakhstan

The impact of the course Education in Finland on my own pedagogical thinking and comparison of the Finnish school system and pedagogy with my own country. Similarities and differences of secondary and higher education in Kazakhstan and Finland.

Рубрика Педагогика
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The comparative analysis of an education system in Finland and Kazakhstan

Course code: MCEO210

Lecturer's Name: Leila Tuominiemi

Date: 30th April, 2011

University of Jyvдskylд

After the great success of Finland in PISA this country became world-known. Many delegates visited and still visiting Finland to get the answer about this success, to see a “silver bullet”. But after observing the schools, talks and discussions with teachers and professors, these delegates go back with the conclusion that Finland is a small country and easily can introduce innovation, but it is almost inapplicable for other countries.

The education in Finland is really different from many others. In presenting Finnish system of education, many lecturers pay attention to its flexibility and the absence of end lines. This system is not unique for me, because you can see the same in Kazakhstan and Russia, but still in many countries nowadays, such as Iran, Mexico and others this question remains very problematic. And it is really a very stressful and decisive situation and decision for students and their parents, because at certain point they need to decide what they want to do in 10-20 years.

Finnish national curriculum is also very well planned. For me it was a discovery that the government made even National curriculum on early childhood education and care (2003). What I can see in kindergartens in Kazakhstan is that they are very diverse. Some kindergartens can emphasize on math and calculation, some on languages, some can get support from different entrepreneurs and others just take care of children, but do not offer any special programmes. And still all these kindergartens will have some things in common: children have regime, children will always paint and make some arts and craft, have both outdoor and indoor activities, participate in concerts and discover the world around them through interaction and play. All these aspects come from Vygotsky's theory which both countries try to implement. But the problem in Kazakhstan is that kindergarten's policy is not very good regulated, there are many blind spots which can be interpreted in different ways.

Pre-school education is not obligatory in my country and not many children have it. Some kindergartens will include it in their curriculum, but it is not compulsory. It is also possible to have this course at school, so that children will start to get used to a new life, but it will not be free of charge. While the situation in Finland is almost opposite. 99% of children attend pre-school education. And I believe that it is very important to have some basic knowledge through suitable methods and approaches before the school starts, because it will give impulse for child's development and education.

And if one day I am involved in pre-school or kindergartens environment, I will do my best to awake children's interest to the surrounding world, make them participate in nowadays life, give them voice, ask their opinion and encourage them to find answers to the questions.

Primary education is also different in these two countries. The first difference comes from the amount of years in elementary school: in Kazakhstan it is only 4 years, but in Finland it is six. The idea of primary education is the same: there is one class teacher, who teaches all the subjects, but in my country this teacher is free from music, PE, Kazakh or any foreign language. It is difficult to say for sure which system is better, but in my society the beginning of secondary education, or the 5th grade is described for children as they start a new life, where they will have several subject teachers and as a result more duties and responsibilities to do. And you can really see the difference in children's behavior in the 4th grade and then in the 5th one. They try to act as adults.

The secondary education in Kazakhstan and Finland is quite similar. Here children study more subjects with different teachers. A difference can be seen in the school structures. As a rule there will be one school building for all the age groups. In most cases classrooms for primary education will be located on the first floor, and subject teachers' classroom will be on the second, third and forth. It is made with the purpose to avoid children's moving from school to school.

A high secondary school almost does not differ from the secondary one in Kazakhstan. Those children, who made a choice to continue education at school, will just follow the national curriculum. But the Finnish system here is very different. And this difference goes from the national curriculum (2003). In both countries the curriculums are not detailed, but serve mostly as a guide-book and teachers are free to use different methods and plan their academic year with a goal of students' achievements to the curriculum requirements. But in Kazakhstan students do not have an option to study what they want or like, because everybody follows the same programme. While the approach in Finnish society is opposite. Students here will have a personal study plan which they can discuss with teachers and school counselor. The National Core Curriculum for Basic Education (2004) is planned in such a way that students will get basic knowledge of each subject, at least two courses of any subjects are required to be taken. And while having these courses children can make a decision which of them is the most interesting for them and which is not. And then based on this decision students can make a study plan for themselves they would like to follow. And I personally find this way very unusual but interesting. If you compare this situation to Kazakhstan, you will see that very often although students would love to emphasize on specific subjects more, they do not have time and sometimes necessary support from teachers for this. And then after leaving the school many students do not know what they want to study, because they know little about everything. That is why I see Finnish system as more beneficial, where students begin to prepare themselves for their future profession already at school.

Talking about system of education and methods of teaching in general, they are very different. Finnish system is more flexible, a student and his needs are in the center if organization, where failure is not the end and teachers must be always ready to change something to achieve better students' outcome. But in Kazakhstan school can be described as a framework and if there is a student who does not fit it, it is student's fault, not school's. And the main argument for this is that most of the students are doing well and there must never be exceptions.

The financial capital of school is also different; there is huge gap between these two countries. All Finnish schools can afford free food for home economics classes, good teaching equipment: such as interactive or smart boards, nice furniture and even new buildings. But in Kazakhstan schools experience lack of books in library and other new teaching materials, articles and other stuff; materials for biological, physical and chemical experiences; good computers and other IT stuff. These are differences which can be changed only from the governmental level, but I believe that something can be improved just by teachers.

Another one different factor is free, inclusive and equal education. Good education in Finland is not considered to be a privilege of high class society. Everybody has equal access to it. Education in Finland is mostly public and there is no difference between schools. The schools are free from ranking and do not have policy to advertise themselves as the best ones to have students. There is no competition between schools and even cities. Each school performs on the same level, and that is why many parents trust the school which is close to their house, as there is no need for them to search for a better one. Finnish schools also make the education as inclusive as it is possible. The social policy of the country is to make society united; do not hide people with special needs behind the walls. And that is why Finnish schools have good equipment for handicaps, so that these students attend usual schools and follow the usual curriculum. The gender aspect is not visible on the school level as well. Both, girls and boys have equal access to the education, materials and are free with their wishes and preferences. There is not a single subject organized only for girls or boys, everything is up to them, what is a little bit different from my country. The case of free education is not a surprise for Europe. But almost the absence of private sector is not so common. And this has a great impact on people's equality; it narrows down the families' economic background and people do not try to emphasize it later, after graduation as well. During the difficult XXth century, when Finland experienced several crises, it was a good governmental decision to make people united. The situation in Kazakhstan differs. There is a ranking list of schools and the schools' effectiveness will also differ. Some gymnasiums, lycйes or private school are considered to be for the best children or not poor families.

In 2003 many educational researches mentioned that some of the key factors for Finland in PISA are good educated parents, and a popular reading habit. The more educated parents the better they understand the necessity of education, and they themselves are good examples for their children. Finnish people and students as well do read a lot. According the PISA's questionnaire more and more students prefer to read online; it can be a newspaper, a magazine, random articles or even forums, but real newspaper reading is still on the first place and while usual books are loosing their popularity. (The Finnish success in PISA - and some reasons behind it, 2007, p 28)

Each school in Finland will have at least one teacher of special education. And each student can attend his classes at least once or twice a week. Special education here does not mean education for the weakest students, who are behind everyone. Any student, even one of the best performing still can attend these classes, and reasons for this may be different. Some students could be ill and did not go to school for several days and now it is difficult for them to understand the topic; some students might be very sensitive and can not work in a noisy atmosphere or maybe some students just can not understand the theory or rule, and they will prefer to see a special teacher. (The Finnish success in PISA - and some reasons behind it, 2007, p 48) I really like the idea of special teacher and school counselor, because they can provide students with all the necessary support and guidance.

The ability to observe and study education in Finland awoke me to re-thing my vision of teaching. And if one day I am teacher, I will try to make my classes student-oriented, where everybody will be involved. I will make more discussions, give students a voice, let them speak and express their thoughts. I will give them exercises where they will need to make a quick research or work in groups. And I think that in this case I will need to be always ready to answer “new” question and give students extra support.


education finland kazakhstan

1. National Curriculum Guidelines on ECEC in Finland 2003

2. National Core Curriculum for Upper Secondary Schools 2003

3. Vдlijдrvi J., Kupari P., Linnakylд P., Reinikainen P., Sulkunen S., Tцrnroos J., Arffman I. (2007) The Finnish success in PISA - and some reasons behind it 2, Jyvдslylд: Kirjapaino Oma Oy

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