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Study: Education cuts threaten civilised society

The education cuts brought about by the Sipilä government are one of the single most significant threats to civilised society, a new survey among highly educated professionals shows. Trade union confederation Akava conducted a survey on the biggest boons and perils facing modern Finnish society.

Opiskelijoita kirjastossa.
More highly educated people have a better chance of affecting change in society, Akava research shows. Image: Marja Väänänen / Yle

The education cuts implemented by the Sipilä government are one of the single most significant threats to civilised society, a new survey among highly educated professionals shows. Especially higher education, mutual respect and a desire to help develop society were cited as the most important factors in building stable communities.

The survey – commissioned by the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland (Akava) – also listed social marginalisation and growing inequality as menaces to Finnish society, with about half of respondents citing at least one of these three phenomena as the main contributing factor to societal stagnation.

"The best medicine for growing inequality is education, and so that is where we should be allocating resources," says Akava chair Sture Fjäder. "All levels of decision-making should understand that cutting education funding will inevitably lead to discrimination and marginalisation."

Education, security, respect, action

Respondents to the Akava survey said they considered education investments, security and family welfare as the prime characteristics of a civilised society.

Members of the Akava unions emphasise education above all else.

"Finnish success stories cannot be born without world-class training and research," says expert Ida Mielityinen. "There was a recent report on the economic effects of higher learning that showed that university-level education helps people to find employment more easily and to be more productive as members of society. This all leads to more employment and better general welfare."

The survey highlights respecting and caring about other people as central to civilised behaviour. Know-how and good manners were also among the top traits. Additionally, under 35-year-old respondents felt that a desire to affect change in society at large should be considered a defining attribute in sophisticated persons.

Kantar TNS conducted the survey in May, 2017. The organisation interviewed 888 members of Akava unions and 1,201 other employees.

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