Conversations with Experts - Tiina Malste, Lead Expert, Educluster, Finland
Q: Tell us something about yourself?
A: How far do you want me to go? (Smiles)
Q: So what do you do?
A: Currently I am working for EduCluster, Finland, which is a company owned by three major public educational institutions in my city. The Jyväskylä Educational Consortium, the expertise of this organisation, is behind us. We are developing education, with partners, throughout the world. We believe in partnerships. We help our partners, whether they are public schools or nations. I am a lead expert, I collaborate with partners. We want to utilise the Finnish expertise in education to help them develop their educational aids. It is my first time in India.
Q: Finnish education system is dubbed as unorthodox, does that mean it is unlike the traditional one which is prevalent everywhere else.
A: Yes, we are doing educational things quite differently from the rest of the word, of course there are some similarities, between some education systems, but the basis of our system is quite different.
Q: What major differences have you felt between Indian and Finnish education system?
A: Just doing my workshop today, although I mentioned at least 2 things and that is we are quite far from each other. Firstly, the position of the teacher in Finland. In Finland, a teacher is considered as the most important success factor, highly qualified and educated, same as in India, but not under control or surveillance. Instead, there is full trust and freedom to work in classrooms. Teachers are autonomous and are free to make decisions. Another big difference is assessment. The assessment system differs quite heavily and is different from the rest of the world. We have a test only in the end of year 12, that too, regulated by schools and teachers, no national assessment until then. The teachers know how to find out the outcome of learning.
Q: So there are no exams?
A: No, our students are not learning for tests but learning for life.
Q: Do you feel there are certain gaps in Indian education system that need to be looked into urgently?
A: What I am hearing here, though I don’t know the Indian education system well enough in order to give a sweeping statement, but lot has to be done about. Teachers are not committed to stay, also it is to be seen how motivated they are. The teachers are ready, if offered a slightly better salary, they will move.
Q: How many different models of education were tried before the present one became successful?
A: Our comprehensive school was introduced in early 1970s. For forty years now we have been, developing the present system which is one school for all. Before that we had parallel systems. From early 1970s we are sticking to the same system. We have a very strong belief, we are in the right path and we are evolving. Satisfaction is the killer of development
Q: Children in Finland do not begin school until age 7, why is it so and how does it help?
A: Children should be allowed to be children, allowed to play, no academics, no reading and writing skills. The important way to learn is through playful activities. Actually there has been international pressure for redefining the age but we have not felt the need to change.
Q: How was your experience at the Educarnival?
A: I have been to many countries in Asia and conferences too, but this one has surprised me. Firstly the topics and the understanding is very similar, just implementing them is different. The professional attitude is delightful. The participants are eager, hungry to change, it is delightful. Willingness to learn is amazing. Will keep coming to India.