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THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF FINLAND.
COUNTRY, PEOPLE, AND GOVERNMENT.
The Graud Duchy of Finland is situated between the meridians of 200 and 32° 17' east of Greenwich and between the parallels of 590 48' and 700 6' of north latitude, its area being 144,258 English square miles. Bounded on the west by the Gulf of Bothnia and on the south by the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga, it almost reaches on the north the Arctic Sea, thus embracing a part of Lapland. The climate is severe. At the capital of the country, Helsingfors, on the south coast, the average temperature of the year is only 39.4° F. In July it rises to 62.2°, but it sinks in January and February to 18.9° F. The ground is covered with snow and all waters are frozen during five or six months of the year, and the soil is not very fertile. The chief natural features of the country being the myriad lakes, extensive pine forests, and granite hills which occupy the largest portion of its surface, “the country of the thousand lakes” has many beautiful aspects and views to please travellers and lovers of nature; but its cultivation is hard work. Only 5 or 6 per cent. of the area of the country is occupied by cultivated fields and meadows, and the agricultural production in rye, barley, oats, and wheat does not quite supply home consumption. Besides agriculture and cattle breeding, the chief occupations are working in the woods, (the products of the woods being the principal articles of export,) mining, (mostly iron,) navigation, manufactures and trades, and fishing and hunting. Dur. ing the last fifteen years there were built railroads in the southern parts of the country and to St. Petersburg to the extent of 547 English miles. There is also a system of telegraphs reaching all parts of the country except Lapland; and during the summer months steamers run on all the larger lakes, many of which are connected with each other and with the sea by canals, keeping up a constant communication between the sev. eral seaports and foreign countries. .
Two elements make up the people of Finland, the Swedes and the Finns. The former are smaller in number, but Swedish is the language of most of the cultivated classes and has until a late time been the only official language. The genuine Finns are a Turanian people, the only European language to which the Finnish bears any relation being the Hungarian. On January 1, 1875, the population was 1,882,600 ; of these, 1,608,800 were Finns, 265,000 Swedes, 6,000 Russians, 2,800 Laplanders, Bohemians, Germans, &c.
Finland was, from the twelfth century until 1909, a province of Sweden, whence Christianity and civilization were introduced. In the year named, Finland was conquered by Russia, and, in accordance with a generous assurance of Emperor Alexander I to its first parliament, connected with that empire as a grand duchy, with laws and government of its own. The Emperor of Russia is grand duke of Finland and the leader of its political relations with other countries, but in all other respects the government of Russia and that of Finland are distinct, Russia being an absolute and Finland a constitutional monarchy. The legislative body of Finland is the Diet, called.“ Landdag,” composed of representatives of the four estates: the nobles, the clergy and teachers, the inhabitants of the cities, and the peasants, or farmers. Each estate meets and votes in its own chamber, each chamber having one vote, and all four must unite ou questions involving new or additional taxation or touching the fundamental laws. The representatives are elected by their respective estates, except the nobles, the head of each family or name in the nobility having a seat in the assembly; which, according to a fundamental act sanctioned by the Emperor Alexander II, must be called together at least once every five years. The adminis. trative or executive department consists of a governor general and a senate of 18 members, appointed by the grand duke for a term of three years. The senate is divided into two departments, one of which is the bighest court of appeals from lower courts, and six bureaus, one being for ecclesiastical and school affairs. With the exception of the governor general, all the functionaries of state and the church must be natives of Finland. They are as a rule appointed by reason of excellent character and retained during good behavior. The prevailing or state church is the Lutheran, the Russian or Greek Catholic Church not having more than 40,000 members. The grand'duchy has also its own military force, coins of its own, (1 Finnish mark, silver, = 1 franc, or about 20 cents,) and separate finances. Its state revenues, which in 1874 amounted to 23,750,000 marks, are expended only on its own government, and customs are paid also for articles imported from Russia.
THE SCHOOL SYSTEM.
In Finland, as in other European countries, the higher or classical schools are much older than the schools of lower grades. The former were established during the Middle Ages through the church and for ecclesiastical purposes. Since that time these schools have been much changed, but they still devote themselves to classical instruction and admit pupils at a very early age. As a completion of the classical schools and as a higher educational and scientific institution, the University of Finland was founded in 1640.
The first step toward popular education was taken in 1686, in the enactment of a law obliging the clergy to hold an annual examination in every parish to ascertain the ability of the children to read and their knowledge of the catechism. Without these acquirements no person can be confirmed by the church, which rite is necessary to obtain a license to marry or enjoy ecclesiastical privileges. This act is still the compulsory law of Finland, the result of which has been that the ability to read is pretty common among the people; but the means of extending the privileges of education to all classes were first provided in 1866 by a law establishing with state aid public common schools (Lägre elementärskolan) throughout the country. That was the best work of the school revival" of Finland, where, during the last decade, much has been done for education. The old schools have been in many respects reformed and their course of instruction enlarged, and new schools for secondary instruction of both sexes and special schools of different kinds estab. lished; more attention is paid to school architecture and furniture and to methods of teaching; teachers' associations are founded and school meetings held; the state and local appropriations for school purposes have been widely increased, and the government of the schools separated from that of the church. At present the question of the day is to get good industrial and drawing schools in all parts of the country.
The school system now in actual operation embraces :
I. The popular schools for common education, established as well in country places as in the cities;
II. Secondary schools, which impart a general culture superior to that given in the popular schools and lay the foundation of the scientific instruction, which is carried further in the university and the polytechnicom. This grade includes (a) the lyceums, or the old classical schools; (b)the Realschulen, for the studies which in America are commonly called the English branches;' and (c) the ladies' schools, for a higher “Eng. lish" education of girls;
III. The university; and
IV. Special schools to meet the educational wants of different occupations and exceptional classes. Such are: (a) the polytechnic school; (1) the teachers' seminaries or normal schools; (c) the institute of agriculture and the lower agricultural schools; (d) the forest institute; (e) the navigation schools; (f) the military school; (g) the lower technical schools, Sunday and evening schools ; (h) deaf mutes; and (i) schools for the blind.
SCHOOL GOVERNMENT. Until 1869 the government of the schools was vested in the authori. ties of the church, and the ecclesiastical board of the senate is still the highest authority in school matters; but in that year a state board of education (Öfverstyrelsen för skolväsendet) was instituted, consisting of a president and six members, one of whom, with an assistant since 1875, is specially charged with the supervision of the popular schools and the teachers' seminaries. This board has the general supervision of all the popular and secondary schools, and must every year publish a statistical report on their condition and work. The board appoints teachers to the secondary schools, designating among the candidates