Free world-class educa­tion in Oulu

Oulu International School

Are you thin­king about accep­ting a job offer in Oulu but wor­ried about your children’s educa­tion?

Fear not: Oulu Inter­na­tio­nal School has the answer, pro­vi­ding high-qua­li­ty, free English lan­gua­ge basic educa­tion for children aged 7 to 16, and upper secon­da­ry educa­tion for tho­se aged 16 to 19.

“I warm­ly welco­me all foreign fami­lies moving to Oulu”, Oulu Inter­na­tio­nal School (OIS) princi­pal Rai­ja Pert­tu­nen opens our con­ver­sa­tion with a broad smi­le.

OIS has 440 stu­dents. Half of them come from Fin­land, the other half from dif­fe­rent count­ries around the world.

“In total, stu­dents speak 35 dif­fe­rent lan­gua­ges in our school”, says the princi­pal.

What else is special about Oulu Inter­na­tio­nal School?

“The lan­gua­ge of tui­tion in our school in English. We have high­ly qua­li­fied teac­hers – in Fin­land, you need to have a master’s degree to qua­li­fy as a teac­her.”

”The Fin­nish school sys­tem is more relaxed”

OIS teac­hes the Fin­nish Natio­nal Cur­ricu­lum – the foun­da­tion for Finland’s excel­lent educa­tio­nal outco­mes. In addi­tion, the school also offers the Inter­na­tio­nal Bacca­lau­rea­te pro­gram, IB – a holis­tic, enqui­ry-based pro­gram­me that gives stu­dents an inter­na­tio­nal­ly-accep­ted qua­li­fica­tion for ent­ry into uni­ver­si­ties worldwi­de.

IB is defi­ni­te­ly a big draw for stu­dents and parents in Oulu.

“To me the most impor­tant thing is that the school gives them an IB diplo­ma which is accep­ted around the world,” con­firms Anna Jaku­bowską from Poland who has three sons at OIS.

Anna and her fami­ly lived in Chi­na and the Phi­lip­pi­nes befo­re moving to Oulu so her eldest son Adam, 16, atten­ded two other inter­na­tio­nal schools befo­re joi­ning OIS.

“I wouldn’t say OIS is an easy school but it’s easy­going”, says Adam. “It’s cer­tain­ly not very stress­ful.”

The atmosp­he­re at OIS is friend­ly and sup­por­ti­ve. Stu­dents don’t have a uni­form and they address teac­hers by their first names.

“The Fin­nish school sys­tem is more relaxed than others. We have more breaks and school days are shor­ter. Children have more time for after-school acti­vi­ties and exerci­se”, Rai­ja Pert­tu­nen explains.

”I got some friends very quickly”

Des­pi­te stu­dents spen­ding less time at school than they would in many other count­ries, OIS’ aca­de­mic results are excel­lent. This is very much apprecia­ted by parents used to more for­mal educa­tion models.

“My sons are lear­ning a lot in a relaxed way and in a good atmosp­he­re. That’s why I’m very hap­py with the school”, says Lek­ha Kut­ty from India who has two sons at OIS.

Her elder son Advaith is 12. He’s been in OIS for six years and has friends from many dif­fe­rent count­ries. One of them is Mic­hael, 12, from Poland.

“It’s great to be in an inter­na­tio­nal envi­ron­ment because you learn so much first-hand about other cul­tu­res. Friends tip­ped me off about an Indian res­tau­rant in Oulu which is bril­liant”, he says.

“I joi­ned the school two years ago and I felt very welco­me. People int­ro­duced me to eve­ry­bo­dy, showed me around, and I got some friends very quickly”, adds Mic­hael.

Michael’s brot­her, 10-year-old Peter agrees:

“The best thing about school is playing with friends. I want to be a foot­ball player or a trai­ner when I grow up and the school is defi­ni­te­ly hel­ping me to achie­ve my goal.”

Advaith is not yet sure about his futu­re career but he agrees that the school sup­ports eve­ry­bo­dy in their choices. “My favou­ri­te sub­ject is maths and it’s taught very well at OIS.”

“Oulu Inter­na­tio­nal School is the place for your children”, says Rai­ja Pert­tu­nen with con­vic­tion.

“All this won­der­ful, high-qua­li­ty educa­tion is offe­red to eve­ry­bo­dy with an address in the Oulu area free of char­ge.”

The principal’s assess­ment of the Fin­nish educa­tion sys­tem is con­fir­med by research. The Orga­ni­sa­tion for Eco­no­mic Co-ope­ra­tion and Deve­lop­ment con­ducts an annual pro­gram­me for inter­na­tio­nal stu­dent assess­ment, known as PISA. Results from PISA sug­gest that Finland’s per­for­mance is con­sis­tent­ly well abo­ve ave­ra­ge in rea­ding, mat­he­ma­tics and science.

Text and video: Eri­ka Ben­ke

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