News |

No bad schools only poorer neighbourhoods

Differences among schools in Helsinki are rooted outside school walls, not in the classroom, as is commonly assumed. A doctoral dissertation by Helsinki University urban geographer Venla Bernelius argues that variations in the quality of education available in the capital are on the rise because of social and economic gaps.

Opiskelijat tekevät muistiinpanoja.
Image: Toni Pitkänen / Yle

"There are major differences among schools in Helsinki, compared to schools in the rest of the country," says Bernelius.

The OECD's PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) studies have consistently ranked the Finnish public school system as one of the best, if not the very best in the world. However, Venla Bernelius argues that if the PISA studies were restricted to an assessment of Helsinki schools alone, the results would be closer to those seen in  Ireland and Azerbaijan than elsewhere in Finland.

Parents opt out

The right of parents to choose the school that their child attends does not reduce the problem, but can even make them worse. With parents of higher socio-economic status favouring certain schools for their children, other less prestigious schools could end up in a vicious downward spiral, according to Bernelius

"It is in many ways a negative development. Especially so, when a situation arises in which schools in socio-economically disadvantaged areas start losing students from their own school to other schools in other areas," explains Bernelius.

While this trend right now is less evident than, for example in urban areas in neighbouring Sweden, Bernelius still believes that the differences between Helsinki schools may grow further, and could lead to sharp socio-economically based "segregation" in the capital's school system.

Latest in: News

Headlines

Our picks

Latest

Muualla Yle.fi:ssä