About 61,500 First-graders Start Primary School in Finland

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Veera Putkonen, 7, is waiting for the start of her very first school day at Taivallahden koulu in Helsinki, Finland on August 11 2016. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Veera Putkonen, 7, is waiting for the start of her very first school day at Taivallahden koulu in Helsinki, Finland on August 11 2016. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Tears. Hugs. Smiles and pats on the small backs.

Dozens of first-graders and their parents swarmed in the schoolyard on Thursday morning at Taivallahden koulu (Taivallahti comprehensive school) in Helsinki’s Etu-Töölö district.

This was the day. The first day in school.

“Veera has been going on overdrive for the past two days,” said her smiling father Jussi Putkonen, 41. ” “But after she met some of her friends, she calmed down.”

Veera, the small girl with red hair and freckles, was circling around her father.

“Will you come inside with me, pleaase?”

After receiving confirmation, she lined up, nervously waiting for her name to be announced out loud.

“Veera Putkonen!” said one of the teachers. Veera started strolling, slowly, taking careful steps and casting sidelong glances to her father.

After the children had walked in, her father followed.

Veera and her father Jussi. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Veera and her father Jussi. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

About 6,100 first-graders started their way to school on Thursday morning in Helsinki. The number of primary school students has increased with about 1,200.

In total, 61,500 first-graders start their way to school this year in Finland. 90 percent of them are seven-year-olds. 3,900 of the first-graders begin their studies in a Swedish school.

In Finland, the comprehensive education consists of six years in primary school and three years in secondary school.

This year, 35,000 students begin their continuing studies in upper secondary school and vocational studies are begun by 108,400 students.

In total, there are about 104,000 upper secondary school students in Finland, from where about 8 percent are adult students.

The interest in upper secondary school studies has been decreasing but since 2015, the interest has grown slightly. This year the interest is a bit higher than in 2014.

Vocational education holds the number one spot of interest with a total of 267,900 students.

 Source for the figures: Finnish National Board of Education