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Wednesday's papers: Baltic gas leak, fully-booked hotels, Finland's worsening PISA results

Daily paper Helsingin Sanomat asks what Estonia's Finnish-inspired education system gets right that Finland no longer does.

Ett flygfoto av ett runt område i havet som är alldeles vitt av bubblor från en undervattensläcka. Runt den vita rundeln bildas dessutom som en krans av bubblor.
EU leaders, including Swedish PM Magdalena Andersson and Danish PM Mette Frederiksen, have said that the Nordstream gas leaks are most likely the result of sabotage. Image: Forsvaret, Danmark
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Multiple papers report on Wednesday that the Nord Stream gas pipelines are leaking into the Baltic Sea, following explosions that occurred on Tuesday evening.

The natural gas pipeline, installed at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, runs from Russia to Germany.

In total, three leaks have been detected in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines, Helsingin Sanomat reports. Finland's largest circulating daily adds that the damage has been described as "unparalleled."

Tabloids Ilta-Sanomat and Iltalehti write that European authorities believe that the leaks were no accident, with certain leaders calling the damage "sabotage" and seismologists saying that the tremors causing the leaks were most likely explosions, not earthquakes.

Swedish and Danish waters are mostly impacted by the leaks and the explosions were also detected by sensors in Finnish waters, Iltalehti reports.

The Finnish Foreign Ministry tweeted on Tuesday that it will be closely following and discussing the matter with Swedish and Danish authorities. Police are now investigating the explosions as aggravated sabotage.

Russians flock to hotels in Southeast Finland

The Lappeenranta-based newspaper Etelä-Saimaa reports on an influx of Russian families and groups of men to hotels in Southeast Finland.

Last week, two of the city's hotels, Rakuuna and Lähde, reported receiving a flurry of last-minute reservations. According to the paper, the hotels are now so fully booked they have begun adding reservation requests to a waiting list.

According to a source, Russian tourists have been reportedly seen sleeping in the hotel corridors of a spa hotel in neighbouring Imatra on Monday night.

However, the head of hotel services at the Imatra spa, Taru Haaspuro, denies this, the paper writes.

"All the guests have their own rooms. I was here myself late on Monday evening," Haaspuro told the paper.

"We are full. Some individual rooms become available every day but they go quickly."

Receptionists told the paper that most of the Russian hotel guests hold room reservations for just a day or two, which raises the question of what they plan to do next.

Finnish education system outpaced by Estonia

Educational experts around the world have now turned their attention away from Finland and towards Estonia following the latest PISA results, Helsingin Sanomat (HS) writes.

Estonian students got the best scores in Europe, in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test, while Finland's declining trend continued.

Since Estonia's education system is based on Finland's, what is Estonia getting right that Finland is not?

Estonia's Pisa project manager Gunda Tira told HS that the answer to the "million dollar question," has to do with the fact that Finland has been experimenting with innovative models that give more responsibility to students. In the meantime, she said Estonia has continued to follow more traditional teaching methods that ensure order and a well-functioning learning environment.

"Perhaps modern student-centred teaching methods are used more in Finland. I personally think that student-centred methods should only be used when the student has already reached a certain level of knowledge and is smart enough to study independently," Tira said.

Experts also said that the sharp decline in the PISA performance of Finnish students coincided with the boom of the internet, gaming and social media.

"Reading has stopped being interesting," the paper writes, adding that according to the most recent Pisa study, 63 percent of boys and 39 percent of girls in Finland admitted that they only read if they had to.

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