The Future of Work Capsules: Addressing the disconnect between the world of education and work (Part 2)

Season’s Greetings to you all
Baptista Sarah Gebu (Mrs.)
  • Any lessons from Finland’s educational system

Should real winners collaborate or compete?

It’s interesting how many Ghanaian children may miss experiencing a coherent educational system equipped with highly trained people in Ghana. This is because it appears there isn’t a clear national level of coherence on standards and what quality preschool should look like due to the fact that our educational system is disjointed and not free across board though taxes are supposed to support its implementation. Investing in early childhood education in Ghana will lead to better results in our educational system. There is a lot we can learn from Finland’s educational system. I applaud the Ghanaian free senior high school (SHS) policy though not across board and not all inclusive, as its implementation and also, it’s not devoid of challenges.

As we imagine work for the future, it’s great we start taking steps to address the disconnect between the world of education and the world of work. How did we know this? According to the International Labour Organization (ILO, 2021) only half of employees globally hold jobs matching to their level of education. Aside the obvious thought and considering we placing square pegs in round holes, we need to consider the level of disconnect if any, that exist in the world of education and that of work. You will agree with me that, education should be about learning and development and not necessarily about scores. Interestingly enough, it appears we place more emphasis on grades, score, and class to the detriment of the core.

According to the World Economic Forum, Finland has the world’s best educational system. The Finish educational system is considered one of the best if not the best in the world because the country’s educational system places more focus on two things – focus on teachers and focus on students as put forward by the World Economic forum. What does Ghana and the rest of the African countries place more focus on? According to the Ghana education services website, the main reason for their existence is to ensure that all Ghanaian children of school-going age are provided with inclusive and equitable quality formal education and training through effective and efficient management of resources to make education delivery relevant to the manpower needs of the nation. There was no clear statement on what the actual focus is. Can you help me dear reader… what do you know to be the main focus of Ghana’s educational system?

To Finland, one of the best tools and ways to eliminate extreme poverty they envision was to get the educational system well put together to achieve maximum efficiency.  The country is leading the way because of the common-sense practices and a holistic teaching environment put in place that strives for equity over excellence as put forward by the World Economic Forum. Their system is dominating the America and the world stage, this is because they have no standardized testing, cooperation’s are fostered and not competition. They make the basics a priority; they start school at an older age, adding up the money, teaching time and good results, the system is highly effective. There are only 9 years of compulsory school that Finnish children are required to attend. Everything past the ninth grade or at the age of 16 is optional.

Finland Late Schooling System.

Finnish children don’t start school earlier. Besides, they don’t start going to school until they are 7 years old. Finland, a country the size of Minnesota, beats the U.S. in math, reading and science, even though Finnish children don’t start school until age 7 reported by the nprnews. A lot of the blame goes to the teachers and rightfully so sometimes in other countries. But in Finland, the bar is set so high for teachers, that there is often no reason to have a rigorous “grading” system for teachers.

Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Finnish Ministry of Education said the following about teachers’ accountability.  All teachers are required to have a master’s degree before entering the profession. Teaching programs are the most rigorous and selective professional schools in the entire country. If a teacher isn’t performing well, it’s the individual principal’s responsibility to do something about it. “No words for accountability in Finnish exist, as accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted”.

Despite the late start, the vast majority arrive with solid reading and math skills. By age 15, Finnish students outperform all but a few countries on international assessments. According to npr news: “every child in Finland under age 7 has the right to child care and preschool by law, regardless of family income.

Over 97 percent of 3- to 6-year-olds attend a program of one type or another. And the key to Finland’s universal preschool system is quality. The then Finland’s minister of education and science – Krista Kiuru, who met with education officials in Washington announced, “first of all, it’s about having high-quality teachers. Day care teachers are having Bachelor degrees. So we trust our teachers, and that’s very, very important. And the third factor: we have strong values in the political level.”

Author Amanda Ripley says she didn’t really believe it, so she went to Finland and several other top-performing countries to see for herself. Compared to Singapore, South Korea or Japan, she says, Finland’s approach is pretty laid back, even though its standards — like what preschoolers should know and be able to do — are set by Finland’s National Curriculum Guidelines for early childcare.

“Kids are almost all in some kind of day care, all of whom are working in the same curriculum that’s aligned with what they’re going to learn in school,” she says. “That’s a level of coherence that most U.S. kids will never experience because we don’t have a coherent system with highly trained people in almost every classroom”

In Finland the money issue is taken care of, as preschool and day care are basically free, because people pay a lot more taxes to fund these programs.  Though poverty and education can be linked, children from poor families have access to high-quality preschool in Finland

“It’s very clear from the research in the U.S. that Americans problems with inequality and school failure are set when children walk in the school door,” says Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. 60% of the poorest 4-year-olds in the U.S. get no preschool. Most, says Barnett, start school 18 months behind. “Those kids are going to be in a spiral of failure, and we set that up by not adequately investing before they get to kindergarten,” Barnett says. “We certainly can learn from countries like Finland.”

In Ghana there is supposed to be a law on the management of maturity leave duration taking it from the basis. Stakeholders have made several appeals to government to consider increase leave duration from the present three months duration. I have a whole research write up on how the proposed increase if approved by the government can be managed based on what other successful countries are doing in the world. Finland as a country offers dads same parental leave as mums, BBCnews also reports.

“Finland’s new government has announced plans to give all parents the same parental leave, in a push to get fathers to spend more time with their children. Paid allowance will increase to a combined 14 months, which works out as 164 days per parent”. For Ghana, the conversation on maternity leave and its full rectification as proposed by the World Health Organization is pending, other countries have moved a step further to “promote wellbeing and gender equality” by extending the focus to dads as well in their paternity leave offering.

In Ghana, as earlier as 4 months after birth, we see new borns ready for pre-school because most mothers end their maternity leave and must be ready to return to work. Once the new borne health is well taken care of, the new mother doesn’t have to be requesting permission from work often to attend to the new born babies health needs. Her frequent absence from work has a direct effect on a company’s profitability.

At that tender age, research has it that – the new born fragile baby needs more attention and concentration from the mother to enable this baby grow in good health. They are easily susceptible to infection. Most mothers at work lack the needed concentration even from observation. Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Estonia and Portugal were praised in a UNICEF report last year for offering the best family-friendly policies. The report ranked the UK, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus and Switzerland the lowest of 31 “rich countries” the bbc postulated.

I found out that maternity leave durations offer a direct bearing on the family health of any family unit, the organization and subsequently the nation. Captivatingly though, the country’s statutory laws propose three months’ maternity leave. In contrast, the World Health Organisation (WHO, 2003) calls for a six months exclusive breastfeeding for the newborn to enhance good health and prevent future health-related diseases and sicknesses.

Conversely, how do we juxtapose Ghana’s legislative provision of three months leave duration to the proposed and globally accepted six months of exclusive breastfeeding? Over the last few decades, several pieces of research have been conducted on maternity leave duration, concentrating on family health development. Longer maternity leave duration was found to be beneficial and necessary for children’s cognitive development and cause a change in behavioral troubles; ( Blau & Grossberg 1992; Brooks-Gunn, Han, and Waldfogel, 2002); (Waldfogel, Han, & Brooks-Gunn 2002); (Baum, 2003).

To date, however, there is still a lot more countries’ waiting to satisfy the ILO convention of offering the minimum 18 weeks of maternity leave duration and Ghana is no exception (Geneva, ILO, 2014). Winegarden and Bracy (1995) and Ruhm (2000) found that reduced infant mortality and the lower rates of young child mortality were associated with longer maternity duration.

They further suggested that child health and development will be benefited by longer maternity leave durations. Maternity leave durations offer a direct bearing on the family health of any family unit, the organization and subsequently the nation. The protection for maternity at work currently faces some difficulties still, which need to be addressed. Whereas over the last 20 years obvious signs of progress are apparent in the provision of longer rest periods to permit nursing and childcare as several recommendations have been put forward globally to curb this challenge, Ghana seems to be at the same position on the progress ladder.

Finns get up late for school

Waking up early, catching a bus or ride, participating in morning and after school extra-curriculars is huge time demand for our students. Added to the fact that some classes start anywhere from 7:00 am GMT to 8am and you’ve got sleepy, uninspired adolescents on your hands.

Students in Finland usually start school anywhere from 9:00 – 9:45 AM. Research has shown that early start times are detrimental to students’ well-being, health, and maturation. Finnish schools start the day later and usually end by 2:00 – 2:45 AM. They have longer class periods and much longer breaks in between. The overall system isn’t there to push and force information to their students, but to create an environment of holistic learning. I found out that Finland schools offer less homework. Finnish schools give less homework which generally takes 10-15 minutes to complete.

Basic priorities and no standard testing

Since the 1980s, Finnish educators have focused on making these basics a priority: education should be an instrument to balance out social inequality, all students receive free school meals, ease of access to health care and offer psychological counseling.  In Finland, there is the Upper Secondary School which is a three-year program that prepares students for the Matriculation Test that determines their acceptance into a University. This is usually based off of specialties they’ve acquired during their time in “high-school” next, there is vocational education, which is a three-year program that trains students for various careers.

They have the option to take the Matriculation test if they want to then apply to University. Finland has no standardized tests. Their only exception is something called the National Matriculation Exam, which is a voluntary test for students at the end of an upper-secondary school (equivalent to an American high school.) All children throughout Finland are graded on an individualized basis and grading system set by their teacher. Tracking overall progress is done by the Ministry of Education, which samples groups across different ranges of schools.

Finland is the answer – a country rich in intellectual and educational reform as postulated by bigthink, has initiated over the years a number of novel and simple changes that have completely revolutionized their educational system. They outrank the United States and are gaining on Eastern Asian countries.

No standard testing, accountability for teachers are not required, cooperation is foster instead of competition,  they make the basics a priority, start school at an older age, give less home work and provides professional options like technical vocational education and training (TVET) past a traditional college degree. Finnish students are getting everything they need to get done in school without the added pressures that come with excelling at a subject. Without having to worry about grades and busy-work they are able to focus on the true task at hand – learning and growing as a human being.

By Baptista S. H. Gebu (Mrs.)

Baptista is a human resource professional with a broad generalist background. Building a team of efficient & effective workforce is her business. Affecting lives is her calling!  She is a Hybrid Professional, HR Generalist, strategic planner, innovative, professional connector and a motivator. Visit our website: E-mail us [email protected] for your management consulting needs.  Follow this conversation on our social media pages Facebook / LinkedIn/ Twitter / Instagram: FoReal HR Services.   Call or WhatsApp: +233(0)262213313.  Follow the hashtag #theFutureofWorkCapsules #FoWC


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