I’m in Helsinki wrapping up my annual summer recess and witnessing thousands of Finnish kids start a new school year around this time, some for the first time in their life.
Us Finns don’t have terribly much to show to the world (the summer of European football and the Olympics again reminded us of our certain genetic limitations), but we have rather aced our national school system, which is universal, free of charge and of very decent quality, as regularly attested by various international school-listing instances.
Despite my occasional personal appreciation to the system that enables people to study all the way towards the highest academic accolades without ending up with debilitating student loans, the Finnish school system is something I spend very little time thinking about, ever.
I almost didn’t think about it at all this year.
This morning I saw a picture a friend had posted of her youngest daughter on her very first day of school last week, posing at the school gate, grinning from ear to ear, wearing a T-shirt that said:
Girls Can Do Anything
So I thought about school again.
Photo on top: Women’s Adult Education Class in Kabul, Afghanistan, 2003. Photographer: Steve McCurry. Source IG/ @stevemccurryofficial