Finland is a Nordic country in Northern Europe, with a population of 5.53 million. It is said to be the 8th largest country in entire Europe. In 1906, Finland successfully became the first European state to grant all the adult citizens the right to vote and the first in the world, to grant the right to all the adult citizens to run public office. In 1906, Finland was established as a democratic representative parliament characterized by universal and equal suffrage (right to vote), universal eligibility and unicameralism (having one legislative house or chamber). With regard to the political system of Finland, the 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Finland 3 out of 180 countries.
Along with this, Finland has successfully continued to rank high on the World Economic Forum Annual Gender Gap Report Index. Finland was ranked 4 out of 149 countries in 2018. The country’s overall high gender equality payment in health and education have contributed to women’s high economic and political participation. Finland’s parliamentary cabinet features a significant portion led by women- 12 portfolios are represented by women, only 7 by men. 47% of the Finnish parliamentarians are women.
THE NORDIC MODEL:
Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark have a successful combination of high living standards, which has captured the world’s eye. At a time when the growing income disparity has become a political hot button in several developed nations, Scandinavia has been cited by many scholars as a role model for economic prosperity keeping into mind equality. The system of the Nordic countries resembles the capitalist and socialist economies. However, they are just consequences of features on whose pillars the Nordic model is standing. It has 3 major features:
- Universalism: It means the provision of social rights to all, like education, health, and unemployment benefits. When the entire population receives education and health care benefits, they become more capable of participating in the workforce, due to the fact that they become healthier and are more skilled. This in turn boosts productivity, thereby contributing to a rise in GDP.
- Individual Autonomy: While many people associate closely knit, interdependent societies for social trust, Nordic countries defy that rule. Despite being highly individualistic societies, they also endorse social trust, among the family members as well as government institutions. OECD survey of 2011 showed that the Nordic countries have the highest level of trust. One of the economic pros of social trust is the drop in transaction costs, as deals get converted faster and conflicts get sorted without any huge expenditure on litigation suits.
- Innovation: A lot of emphases is placed on research with adequate government aid. The government ensures, through progressive taxation and considerable investment in building knowledge, infrastructure, and technology that more people base their careers in research, thereby increasing the number of citizens working towards regional development.
SUCCESS OF EDUCATION IN FINLAND:
Finland- a country rich in intellectual and educational reform has initiated over the years some novel and simple changes that have completely revolutionized their education system and made it a huge success. They outrank the United States and are gaining on Eastern Asian countries.
Usually what happens is, the students cram to pass a test and teachers teach only for the purpose of helping the students pass the test. There is no space left for learning. Finland has no standardized test. They only conduct a National Matriculation Exam, which is a voluntary test for students at the end of the senior secondary school (equivalent to an American high school.) Finnish children are graded on an individualized basis according to the system set by the teacher. The overall tracking is done by the Ministry of education.
All teachers are required to have a masters’ degree before entering the profession. Students in Finland have the same teacher for up to 6 years of their education. Throughout this duration, the teacher may take the role of a guide/mentor or even a family member and can figure out the student’s distinctive needs. Finland’s education system does not worry about arbitrary or artificial merit-based systems. There are no lists of top-performing teachers or schools. It’s not an environment of competition, rather cooperation is the norm.
The teaching program that Finland focuses most on is about learning back the basics. It is not about dominating with excellent marks or upping the ante. Instead, they focus on making the school environment a more equitable place, by teaching about social equality and providing them psychological counseling and individualistic guidance.
Students in Finland start school when they are seven years old. They’re given full autonomy in these childhood years to not be chained to compulsory education. Finnish children are required to attend only 9 years of compulsory school. Everything past the ninth grade or at the age of 16 is optional. Finland thus alleviates this forced ideal and instead opts for preparing its children for the real world.
Schools in Finland start anywhere between 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Finland believes that early start time is detrimental to students’ well-being, health, and maturation. The overall system isn’t there to just cram information to their students but to propagate holistic learning.
SUCCESS OF HEALTHCARE IN FINLAND:
Finland offers its residents universal healthcare. Prevention of diseases and Health Promotion have been the main focus of Finnish healthcare policies for decades. That has resulted in the eradication of certain communicable diseases and improvements in health. Finnish healthcare system stands out for its great quality, according to a survey published by the European Commission in 2000, Finland makes it to top 5 countries in satisfaction: 88% of Finnish citizens are satisfied compared to 71% EU average.
Due to public health interventions and progressive medical care, there has been a remarkable improvement in life expectancy in Finland over the past few years. It is 84 years for women and 78 years for men. The infant mortality rate in Finland has fallen considerably over the past few decades. The IMR rate in 2013 was recorded as 1.8 per 1000 births.
The political system of Finland is considered successful particularly in regards to specialized medical care and the coverage of vaccination and screening programs. Finland has a very comprehensive screening program for breast cancer where 84% of women, aged 50 to 69 years, annually take part. The vaccination program for young children is also very inclusive, as 99% of children under 2 years of age are vaccinated against whooping cough (pertussis) and measles. The political system of Finland also offers compensation for wages you might have lost while away from work, along with a ‘Special Care Allowance’ in case a parent needs to take some time off for taking care of sick kids.
The Finnish state mandates 4 months of paid maternity leave and an optional six-month paid parental leave. After that, kids can continue staying home with their mothers till school age, or parents can instead send them to a publicly subsidized child care center, where providers are all extensively trained. The cost is on a sliding scale based on family income, but the maximum comes out to be about $4,000 a year, compared to $10,000 in the US. This is one of the many reasons Finland is said to be the best place to be a mom.
Finland is said to be one of the first and most successful countries for pushing forward the flat working model – in which there are few – or sometimes even zero – hierarchical levels between management and staff. There is less supervision of employees so as to promote increased involvement with organizational decision making, enabling open and free communication. Agile working has been championed over in Finland which has played a role in workforce satisfaction, due to work-life balance.
In 2011, the political system of Finland was offering the most flexible working schedule in the world, with 92% of companies permitting employees to adapt their working hours, compared to 76% in the UK, 50% in Russia, and 18% in Japan. Thanks to the Working Hours Act, 2020, the majority of the full-time workers will be given the right to decide when and where they work for at least half of their working hours. Workers shall have to put in an average of 40 hours a week, but that shall be according to their own convenience, it will be up to them to start and finish early in order to manage childcare or be able to exercise outdoors while it’s still light. Unemployment insurance in Finland lasts for 500 days, which is one of the main facts for which it is lauded.
The happiness of Finland’s residents does not only come from its large number of welfare policies, the successful political system of Finland, its intrinsic affinity for mutual trust and equality, but also from freedom. The thinking that one can only be free and independent if everyone is equally free and independent, drives the country’s policy-making and has become its reason for immense success.