Compulsory schooling in Finland ends at grade 9, when students are 16 years old. At that time, students can apply to an academic high school (lukio) or a vocational school. Vocational programs last three years and include an internship. Course requirements in high schools are also usually completed in three years, but it is possible to finish in two or to stay for a fourth year. As there are no dead ends in the Finnish educational system, students may apply to a polytechnic or to a university after completing either type of secondary education.
This week I visited two schools that provide vocational education as well as an academic high school. Like many high schools, the one where I observed classes offers specialized programs in addition to the general academic curriculum. There are schools that allow students to concentrate on visual arts, performing arts, sports, media, languages, or sciences. Continue reading