Published  06 December 2017, by Helmo Preuss, Helsinki

JOHANNESBURG – Finland has a population of only 5.5million people or less than the combined populations of Cape Town and Pretoria with a land area of 338145km².

That’s about 90percent of the Northern Cape’s land area, or just over a quarter of South Africa’s land area, yet its economy is only 22 percent smaller than South Africa’s. This means its per capita income of $42300 (R570000) is more than triple South Africa’s.

Being three times richer was not due to nature’s bounty – Finland doesn’t have major oil deposits as Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia or the US do – but a highly educated workforce that resulted in one Finnish company, Nokia, dominating global cellphone sales in the late 1990s.

The workforce starts with teacher selection and training. The teacher training colleges pick the cream of the crop through a rigorous selection policy of only choosing student teachers from the top 10th percentile of school graduates, which is then followed by a rigorous and lengthy theoretical and practical training. There is also intensive mentoring in early professional life so that the novices learn the tricks of the trade early on and are not left to flounder without support.

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