21.12.2016

Finnish kids have more lessons in science but less in reading in OECD comparison

The PISA 2015 assessment focused on science. Finland did well in the international comparison, although the scores decreased compared to the previous PISA.

In Finland physics, chemistry, biology, health education and geography are considered science subjects. OECD’s Education at a glance 2016 defines natural science in a slightly different way; physics, chemistry, biology and health education belongs to the discipline but geography is not included in this subject group. The OECD average share of science - with the above mentioned definition - of all compulsory subjects varies from 4 to 13 per cent in primary education and from 8 to 12 per cent in lower secondary education. Science is studied most in Estonian schools. Estonia was one of the top ranking countries in PISA 2015.

In Finland the share of science of all compulsory subjects is higher than the average in OECD countries.

The share of science of all compulsory subjects

science, primary % science, lower secondary %
ISCED 1 ISCED 2
OECD average 7 11
Finland 11 16
Source: Education at a glance 2016

The share in the primary education in Finland (grades 1-6) is 11 per cent whereas the OECD average is seven per cent. In lower secondary education (grades 7 – 9) the share increases to 11 per cent and in Finland to 16 per cent.

In Finland the share of reading is among the lowest in OECD countries

Finland succeeded well in the PISA 2015 reading assessment. It is notable that the share of reading – mother tongue and literature in Finnish schools – in lower secondary education is among the lowest in OECD countries.

The share of reading of all compulsory subjects
reading, primary % reading, lower secondary %
ISCED 1 ISCED 2
OECD average 22 14
Finland 24 12
Source: Education at a glance 2016

Twelve per cent of the instruction is devoted to reading. The biggest share of lessons in reading in the OECD countries is 26 per cents. In primary level the share of lessons in reading in OECD countries varies between 20 and 37 per cent.

Instruction time per subject in primary education (2016)

Source: Education at a glance

Instruction time per subject in general lower secondary education (2016)

Source: Education at a glance

More information:

Education at a glance 2016

OECD

More information at the Finnish National Board of Education:
Hanna Laakso, Senior Adviser, hanna.laakso (at) oph.fi, tel. +358 (0) 29 533 1117

The PISA 2015 assessment focused on science. Finland did well in the international comparison, although the scores decreased compared to the previous PISA.