The Comparison of the Education systems of Finland and Japan

Finnish and Japanese education systems

After coming to Finland I got various opportunities to get to know and learn about Finnish education. Finland is known for its unique education system and many countries are trying to learn from that. 

(I think it doesn’t necessarily mean Finnish education is perfect and by far the best but at least it is highly evaluated internationally)

Even though I was a master student majoring in international business and entrepreneurship, I had chances to take some courses from the education department which seemed to be interesting. 

Also, I heard about Finnish education many times from Finnish students who were studying to be teachers and through the connections with them, I had a couple opportunities to visit local school. 

I’m not an expert in Finnish education and it’s always changing, but here I’d like to share some features, learnings, and insights about Finnish education in comparison with Japanese education (based on my knowledge and experience), from the three different perspectives as follow. 

  • Teacher qualification
  • Ideology
  • Teaching method


 Teacher qualification 

Finland :

  • Finland can be regarded as one of the countries which conducts the strict screening of qualifications for teachers, which is the foundation that makes Finland famous for its superb education system. 
  • Except for kindergarten teacher and vocational teacher, having master level university degree is required to apply for teacher job. 
  • It is said that getting into the education programs of university is very competitive. (My friend told me that the acceptance rate could be even around 10%). Thus, teacher is a highly respective job in Finland. 

Japan :

  • Teacher qualification in Japan is quite different from Finland.  One major difference is that even students whose major are not education are able to meet qualifications as long as they complete required courses and training. 
  • Having master’s degree is not required to be a teacher.


Finland :

  • Finnish education system is built on its strong ideology, which places huge value on equal educational opportunity for everybody and making no one left out at school. 
  • Every school and teacher believe that it is important to make children understand the importance of learning rather than make them compete. 

Japan :

  • Japanese schools put emphasis on individual learning rather than interactive learning style, which is the opposite idea of Finnish education.

   (My professor told me that it reflects the Confucian heritage)

  • Japanese schools have value that pupils should acquire morality at school as well. Therefore, pupils at Japanese schools need to learn how to maintain the ethical standard in several ways such as cleaning everyday. This is an idea which cannot be seen in Finnish education scenes. 


 Teaching Method 

Finland :

  • The teaching method in Finnish education system is globally famous for the uniqueness such as out door activity and group-oriented work, as well as evaluation without standardized tests and individual support for learning.

– Schools don’t put much emphasis on giving homework to pupils and also they try to avoid to assess by each pupil by scores with the aim of phasing out the order of academic skills and evaluating from the perspective of development of each pupil.

  • It would be also important to mention that those teaching method is usually supported by the parents because teachers are highly trusted socially as professionals.

Japan :

  • Pupils get much homework from school and pupils/students are expected to do what teachers tell them to do. 
  • Students are usually asked to answer what they have memorized such as the name of the phenomena and the year of the historical events. This educational style develops pupil’s skill of doing simple tasks which are given from somebody else.


In the next blog post I’ll write about external influences for both Japanese and Finnish education as well as my personal thoughts about Japanese education based on my own experience.