the last few years the assessment results of education have brought up
some problems which have been intervened with extensive development projects.
These projects have often regarded the whole educational system. The following
two plans are examples of such development projects: (1) project aiming
at developing the guidance environment and (2) diverse learners – common
school – project.
An evaluation of educational guidance and counselling was completed in
Finland in autumn 2002. The evaluation covered basic education, general
and vocational upper secondary education and educational transitions from
one level to another. The evaluation conducted was the first of its kind
in Finland at the education system level. It revealed considerable shortcomings
and has thus led to initiatives to improve the situation. The initial training
of study counsellors is being increased and in-service training is being
enhanced. The National Board of Education has launched a development project
for educational guidance and counselling at all levels and forms of education.
In addition there is a project aiming at developing the guidance environment,
among others applying web-based solutions. Also in the present Government
programme the development of educational guidance and counselling has been
emphasised more than before.
educational reforms have also been supported with research.Key research
areas that have emerged during recent years include themes related to on-the-job
learning. This has largely to do with reforms of vocational education and
training implemented in the 1990’s, when periods of on-the-job learning
with a scope of 20 credits (800 hours) were incorporated into all vocational
qualifications. Studies have examined the implementation of these periods
of on-the-job learning from the perspectives of vocational institutions,
enterprises and on-the-job instructors. Targets of investigation also include
pedagogical solutions involved in learning on the job.
The quality of education is high in Finland. According to the OECD PISA
assessments the learning outcomes are excellent. Also the differences between
pupils, schools and regions are relatively small in Finland. However, according
to the national educational outcome evaluations, a part of the pupils and
students seem to underachieve, which might be one of the reasons behind
for example the considerable differences in the average learning outcomes
of boys and girls: the average results of the boys in all subjects are
clearly more modest than those of the girls. Therefore The Finnish National
Board of Education has initiated a project “Diverse learners – common school”
The aim of the project is to find means to reduce the number of underachieving
pupils and students. Furthermore, the project will support practices which
help all pupils and students to apply their learning skills in an optimal
way. Particular attention will be paid to differences between boys and
girls in learning. The project encompasses pre-primary, basic and general
upper secondary education as well as vocational upper secondary education
and training. It was launched in spring 2004 and will continue until the
end of 2006.
research theme linked to on-the-job learning constitutes vocational skills
demonstrations, which are currently being piloted. Through skills demonstrations,
students demonstrate how well they have achieved the objectives of vocational
studies and the vocational skills required in working life. During the
next few years, skills demonstrations will be incorporated into all upper
secondary vocational qualifications. The aim of skills demonstrations is
to improve and guarantee the quality of vocational education and training.
Studies have examined the ways, in which the pilot projects have been implemented
in practical terms.
from 2003, the National Board of Education has supported the Life as Learning
research programme set up by the Academy of Finland. Life as Learning (LEARN
- www.aka.fi/learn) is a national research programme (EUR 5.1 million 2002–2006),
funded by the Academy of Finland, the National Board of Education, the
Ministry of Education, the National Technology Agency (Tekes) and the Finnish
Work Environment Fund. The LEARN programme includes 17 research projects.
By supporting the programme, the National Board of Education promotes interaction
between research organisations and educational administration as well as
utilisation of the latest research findings. LEARN is an extensive research
programme, which also includes themes relating to vocational education
of the essential goals of the LEARN programme is to produce new knowledge
about what learning is in working life and how new knowledge is created
in work environments. Learning is no longer limited to schools or the formal
education system. The goal is to find those processes which help empower
individuals and work communities through learning. One very important aim
for the Finnish education policy is also to identify the barriers which
increase the risks of exclusion in working life.
LEARN programme aims to produce new evidence in support of education policy
measures and also of the joint objectives of education and labour policies.
LEARN programme calls researchers to work in cross-boundary modes with
societal partners, to create new concepts and tools together, and to share
learning research with different partners in society.