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In the NY Times article Educators Flocking, Land of Literate Children the reasons for Finlands number one ranking in a respected international literacy survey are discussed. How do finns feel about this success?
""We are a little bit embarrassed about our success," said Simo Juva, a special government adviser to the Ministry of Education, summing up the typical reaction in Finland, where boasting over accomplishments does not come easily. Perhaps next year, he said, wishfully, Finland will place second or third."
More interestingly the article goes on to deliver the explanation for the high literacy rate:
"If one trait sets Finland apart from many other countries, it is the quality and social standing of its teachers, said Barry Macgaw, the director for education at the O.E.C.D."
According to the article, teaching is actually the favorite profession for teenagers in Finland and many more apply to become teachers than are accepted.