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Finland provides three years of maternity leave and subsidized day care to parents, and preschool for all 5-year-olds, where the emphasis is on play and socializing. In addition, the state subsidizes parents, paying them around euros per month for every child until he or she turns Ninety-seven percent of 6-year-olds attend public preschool, where children begin some academics. Schools provide food, medical care, counseling and taxi service if needed. Even so, Rintola said her children arrived last August miles apart in reading and language levels.

By April, nearly every child in the class was reading, and most were writing. The national goal for the past five years has been to mainstream all children. There are exceptions, though, however rare. The wispy 7-year-old had recently arrived from Thailand speaking not a word of Finnish. It is designed to help children keep up with their subjects while they conquer the language.

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Rintola will teach the same children next year and possibly the next five years, depending on the needs of the school. English begins in third grade, Swedish in fourth.

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By fifth grade the children have added biology, geography, history, physics and chemistry. Not until sixth grade will kids have the option to sit for a district-wide exam, and then only if the classroom teacher agrees to participate. Most do, out of curiosity. Results are not publicized. We know much more about the children than these tests can tell us. I had come to Kirkkojarvi to see how the Finnish approach works with students who are not stereotypically blond, blue-eyed and Lutheran.

They argue that the United States has little to learn from a country of only 5. Yet the Finns seem to be onto something. Neighboring Norway, a country of similar size, embraces education policies similar to those in the United States. The year-old boxy school building sat in a wooded area, around the corner from a subway stop flanked by gas stations and convenience stores. Half of its first- through ninth-grade students have learning disabilities. All but the most severely impaired are mixed with the general education children, in keeping with Finnish policies. Working in teams, the 7- and 8-year-olds raced to see how quickly they could carry out their tasks.

They really learn with it. The school receives 47, euros a year in positive discrimination money to hire aides and special education teachers, who are paid slightly higher salaries than classroom teachers because of their required sixth year of university training and the demands of their jobs.

There is one teacher or assistant in Siilitie for every seven students. In another classroom, two special education teachers had come up with a different kind of team teaching. Each had students of wide-ranging abilities and special needs. Summa asked Kangasvieri if they might combine gymnastics classes in hopes good behavior might be contagious.

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It worked. This year, the two decided to merge for 16 hours a week. Every so often, principal Arjariita Heikkinen told me, the Helsinki district tries to close the school because the surrounding area has fewer and fewer children, only to have people in the community rise up to save it. Until the late s, Finns were still emerging from the cocoon of Soviet influence. Most children left public school after six years. The rest went to private schools, academic grammar schools or folk schools, which tended to be less rigorous.


Only the privileged or lucky got a quality education. The landscape changed when Finland began trying to remold its bloody, fractured past into a unified future.

For hundreds of years, these fiercely independent people had been wedged between two rival powers—the Swedish monarchy to the west and the Russian czar to the east. Neither Scandinavian nor Baltic, Finns were proud of their Nordic roots and a unique language only they could love or pronounce. In , Finland was ceded to Russia by the Swedes, who had ruled its people some years. The czar created the Grand Duchy of Finland, a quasi-state with constitutional ties to the empire. He moved the capital from Turku, near Stockholm, to Helsinki, closer to St.

After the czar fell to the Bolsheviks in , Finland declared its independence, pitching the country into civil war. Three more wars between and —two with the Soviets, one with Germany—left the country scarred by bitter divisions and a punishing debt owed to the Russians. In , the Finnish Parlia-ment made the bold decision to choose public education as its best shot at economic recovery.

If we want to be competitive, we need to educate everybody. It all came out of a need to survive. Practically speaking—and Finns are nothing if not practical—the decision meant that goal would not be allowed to dissipate into rhetoric. Lawmakers landed on a deceptively simple plan that formed the foundation for everything to come.

Schools Are Failing to Teach Kids How to Read - The Atlantic

Teachers from all over the nation contributed to a national curriculum that provided guidelines, not prescriptions. Development Goal of Universal Primary Education and a larger offer of education for students with special needs are pursued by Brazilian policy-makers. Despite its shortcomings, Brazil has progressed substantially since the s. The nation witnessed an increase in school enrollment for children age 7—14, from In the age demographic, in the same period, this rate rose from Voting has been mandatory for all citizens of Brazil since the first Constitution of However, people who are illiterate have, historically, not been able to be registered to vote.

Beginning in , the campaigns were centered in rural areas. Brazilian students score lower than the average in reading, mathematics, and science, the three categories of testing. It takes an extra three years to finish elementary school for low-income students, PNAD , the national household survey, shows. As of , the illiteracy rate for people age 15 or more was of 6.

Pre-school education is optional and exists to aid in the development of children under 6. It aims to assist in all areas of child development, including motor skills, cognitive skills, and social skills while providing fertile ground for the later acquisition of knowledge and learning. There are day nurseries for children under 2, kindergartens for 2- to 3-year-olds, and preschools for children 4 and up. Public preschools are provided by city governments. Elementary school is mandatory for children ages 6— There are nine "years" as opposed to the former eight "grades".

Generally speaking, the only prerequisite for enrolling in first year is that a child should be 6 years old, but some education systems allow children younger than 6 to enroll in first year as long as they turn 6 during the first academic semester.

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Older students who have not completed their elementary education are allowed to attend, though those over 18 are separated from the younger children. As for years 6, 7, 8 and 9, one or two foreign languages are also compulsory usually English and an optional language. Each education system supplements this core curriculum with a diversified curriculum defined by the needs of the region and the abilities of individual students. During Ensino Fundamental I each group of students is usually assisted by a single teacher.

In Ensino Fundamental II , there are as many teachers as subjects. Elementary schools must provide students with at least hours of activities per year. The school calendar is set by individual schools which, in rural areas, often organize their calendars according to planting and harvesting seasons.

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Public elementary schools are funded by municipal and state governments. The education is similar to the British. Students must have finished their elementary school before they enroll in high school. Secondary education takes three years. The minimum is 2, hours of teaching over four years. Secondary education core curriculum comprises Portuguese including Portuguese language, essay studies, Brazilian and Portuguese literatures , foreign language usually English , also Spanish and very rarely French , History , Geography , Mathematics , Physics , Chemistry and Biology.

Philosophy and Sociology , which were banned during the military dictatorship — , have become compulsory again. The movement of the eleventh or twelfth grade of high school or the end of those grades is mandatory for those wishing to pursue technical education , [27] through courses in several areas of knowledge. In addition, students must pass a entrance examination for their specific course. These institutions usually have a greater number of hours per week. The instruction of the technical course lasts from one year and a half to two years. The secondary education is mandatory for those wishing to pursue higher education.

In addition, students must pass a competitive entrance examination known as vestibular for their specific course of study. The number of candidates per available place in the freshman class may be in excess of 30 or 40 to one in the not so competitive courses at the top public universities. The most competitive ones excess 80 or In some courses with small number of vacancies, this number can be as high as medical school, for example.

As is the case in many nations, higher education in Brazil can be divided into undergraduate and graduate work. In addition to providing education, universities promote research and provide separate classes to the community. The Brazilian standard for technology , licentiate or bachelor's degree is awarded in most areas of the arts , humanities , social sciences , exact sciences , or natural sciences , and lasts two to three years for technology courses, three to four years for licenciate and bachelor's courses in general and five to six years for special bachelor's courses such as law , architecture , engineering , human medicine and veterinary medicine.

After graduation students can take postgraduate courses being these latu sensu or stricto sensu. Latu sensu graduate degrees are specializations and refinements lasting one to two years and do not confer academic title. Academic Performance The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. The public school average is the 50 th percentile; scores range from 1 to A study found Black homeschool students to be scoring 23 to 42 percentile points above Black public school students Ray, Degree of state control and regulation of homeschooling is not related to academic achievement.

Homeschool students are increasingly being actively recruited by colleges.

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  8. Social, Emotional, and Psychological Development Socialization The home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development. Research measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem. Homeschool students are regularly engaged in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their nuclear-family members. They are commonly involved in activities such as field trips, scouting, 4-H, political drives, church ministry, sports teams, and community volunteer work.

    Adults who were home educated are more politically tolerant than the public schooled in the limited research done so far. Gender Differences in Children and Youth Respected? Many are concerned that a highly disproportionate number of public school special-education students are boys and that boys are 2. Notes: 1. Sources The above findings are extensively documented in one or more of the following sources, and most are available from www.

    Susannah Sheffer, A systematic review of the empirical research on selected aspects of homeschooling as a school choice, Brian D. Academic achievement and demographic traits of homeschool students: A nationwide study, Brian D. Ray, , Academic Leadership Journal, www. For a free copy, contact us.

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    6. Ray, Brian D. Journal of School Choice, 9 —96 [a peer-reviewed journal].