Lessons From Scandinavia




Finland adopts a holistic approach to education. In other words, the country does not prioritise academic excellence above all else – yet they achieved excellent PISA scores. They have free meals in schools, free healthcare, and counselling. What can Singapore, as an education hub, learn from Finland?


Individual-based learning

Finland revamped its curriculum in 2014. The Finnish education ministry first gives the overview of their national core curriculum. This is then broken down into municipal levels. This is then pushed to schools to develop their own learning styles.

Much of Finland’s education in schools focuses on skills-based learning. The Finnish are taught not what to learn but how to learn, how to acquire skills and knowledge. Their teachers focus more on students’ individual learning characteristics. The students are not really expected to memorize facts from a textbook.



According to Heikki Happonen, Head of the University of Eastern Finland’s teacher training lab, children’s brains work better when they are on the move. Finnish children learn through playing games up to the age of seven. When they are in primary schools, they get 15 minutes of play for every hour in schools.


Cutting down on national exams

Finnish students take only one standardised test at age 16.



Teachers are of a high quality in Finland. Their teachers are required to at least possess a master’s degree to teach in primary schools.


Schools designed for students

There are many conducive common areas in schools for students to hang out. Classroom have bright colours and lighting everywhere. This makes students more comfortable in classrooms and common spaces, and encourages healthy interaction between students. School, for these kids, is a second home.