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Finnish Pupils Top Civic Knowledge Ranking

Finnish and Danish eighth-graders tied for first place in a study of civic knowledge conducted in 38 countries by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).

Nuoria koululuokassa
Image: Kalle Niskala / YLE

Ranking third and fourth were South Korea and Taiwan.

However the study suggests that young Finns are not interested in politics or social issues and tend to rely on societal institutions.

The Amsterdam-based organisation released the results of its 2009 International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) on Tuesday. It has carried out such studies since 1971. Information was collected from more than 140,000 students and 62,000 teachers at over 5,300 schools. The average age of pupils surveyed in Finland was 14.7 years.

The latest ICCS indicates that youngsters' social awareness has weakened over the past decade in most countries, but not in Finland.

In Finland, research was carried out by the University of Jyväskylä and the Ministry of Education and Culture.

The findings indicate that few Finnish teenagers support any particular political party or say they plan to join one as an adult. However 85 percent say they plan to vote as adults, which is above the international average.

Youngsters Trust the Police

The environment is the societal issue that most concerns the young Finns surveyed.

They tend to have confidence in social institutions, with the police, Defence Forces, the media and the justice system topping the list. They have the least confidence in market forces, churches and other religious organisations.

Eighth-graders in Finland strongly support equality for all ethnic groups. More than nine out of 10 respondents said that members of all ethnic groups should have the same rights and responsibilities as well as opportunities to work and study.

However more than half would be ready to limit immigration if jobs were scarce. Nearly 80 percent agreed that immigrants who have lived in Finland for a number of years should be allowed to vote.

In Finland, about 3300 pupils and 2300 teachers at 176 schools took part in the study during the spring of 2009.

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