By Enrique Tessieri
All of us who have children in Finland are familiar with the high quality of our educational system. Its high standards have been noticed abroad by the 2009 OECD Pisa study, which placed Finland in third place after Shanghai and South Korea.
Irrespective of the high academic achievement of these countries, they are not free from a social ill like racism. Unfortunately the Pisa results don’t measure how well students deal with different cultures.
If some newspaper articles are anything to go by, racism and xenophobia in China and South Korea are a cause for concern. Even in Finland we have seen such a worrying trend. A good example will be the April elections in Finland and how many politicians will get elected with the help of their anti-immigration and Islamophobic stances.
I personally believe that our high academic standards should save us from populism and xenophobia, or at least keep these social ills in check. One of the cornerstones of our educational system is equality. When we speak of this nobel societal value we mean equality for all people irrespective of their background.
For some parties like the True Finns, Muutos 2011, Vapauspuolue, and for certain representatives of major Finnish parties like the Social Democrats (Kari Rajamäki) and Kokoomus (Wille Rydman), equality does not apply to all members of our society.
If we allow racism and xenophobia to get the best of us in the next parliamentary elections, it will not only end up harming this country’s future but reveal how our educational system has failed.