“The educational system is not as safe as it used to be”

By on 18.11.2016 in Publications

“The educational system is now much more fragmented compared to what it used to be. It is much more individualised, marketised and less strictly governed. All these developments have effects concerning the equality of education in Finland”, says Janne Varjo.

Janne Varjo and Mira Kalalahti, University of Helsinki

Janne Varjo and Mira Kalalahti, University of Helsinki

JustEd members Janne and Mira Kalalahti, University of Helsinki, have edited the first volume of Yearbook of Sociology of Education. In the book several JustEd members participate with papers on the changing conceptions of educational equality in Finland, as well as in Sweden and England.


“The system is not as safe in a homogenous way as it used to be. There are risks for certain groups of people to become marginalised. For example pupils with low educated parents, with special needs or disability, and pupils who live outside the cities are at greater risk of getting marginalised,” he says.

The Finnish educational system is on a fast track towards more individualisation and more variation between the education in cities and on the countryside. The trend also shows a growing educational gap between people with different social background.

“One of the key starting points of this book was to find out how Finnish researchers of education understand the concept of equality. We also ask if equality in education still is something we are addressing and heading for,” says Mira Kalalahti.

“Our main finding is that it is not that obvious that we have a common understanding for equality in education. The term has different meanings for different groups of researchers.”

Mira pinpoints that the whole educational system is becoming more diversed – again. “The shared understanding of the values and aims of equality in education will become more difficult to grasp.”

Several JustEd members have written chapters of the book. One of them is Assistant Professors Jaakko Kauko, University of Turku, who wrote an article together with Maija Salokangas, Trinity College in Dublin. Their contribution is the outcome of Maija’s visit in Helsinki as a JustEd Mobility Fellowship scholar.

“In short, we are looking at accountability in academy schools in England. Many publicly-funded academy schools are run by private sector organisations, and we are interested in the question of accountability,” Jaakko says.

“Can there be accountability when there is no democratically elected body behind the schools?”

In one of the chapters, of which Professor Lisbeth Lundahl at Umeå University is one of the co-writers, the educational systems in Sweden and Finland are compared.

Additionally, JustEd member Tommy Wallenius participates with an article in the volume.

The second volume of the biannual yearbook is already in the pipeline, the theme will be trust in education and the promise of education.

The Yearbook is a collaboration between mainly Finnish researchers and was published at the FERA Conference on Education in Turku, Finland, at the seminar Changing conceptions of educational equality.


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About the Author

About the Author: Journalist currently working as Communications Specialist at the Nordic Centre of Excellence "Justice through Education in the Nordic countries" and in NordForsk's programme "Education for Tomorrow". .


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