Education

For all children in Finland between the ages of 7 and 17, school education is compulsory, ensuring virtually 100% literacy. All stages of education are free in schools run by the state (a few private schools charging fees do exist as well). State education caters to Finnish-speaking as well as Swedish-speaking Finns, and in regions with a predominantly Saami population it is now possible for children to receive instructions in Saami. To be able to enter one of the 20 universities and colleges of the country, an entrance examination has to be passed. In some subjects (medicine, for instance), a few seats may be reserved for students of Saami origin. All Finns, irrespective of ethnicity, have to learn Finnish, English, and Swedish at school. In addition, they may choose another foreign language like German, French, or Russian. The metric system was introduced by law in July 1886. About 53% of the present population have completed postprimary education and 11% have a university degree. Finland's first Nobel Prize winner was Frans Eemil Sillanpaa, who received this honor in the Literature category in 1939. Then in 1945, A.I. Virtanen, a biochemist, was awarded the prize in Chemistry for a new fodder conservation method that he had developed. So far, Finland's last Nobel Prize winner was Ragnar Granit, who received the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1967 for his fundamental studies on the human nervous system, and principally his research on visual physiology.

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