Danes and Finns top poll for student civic knowledge

Danish and Finnish students have been given top marks when it comes to civic knowledge, leading a poll of 38 countries. Eighth-graders in the two Nordic nations came joint first-place of the study released by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).

The results of the 2009 International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) were released on Tuesday, with pupils from South Korea and Taiwan coming in third and fourth place. Similar probes by the Amsterdam-based organisation have been released every year since 1971.

More than 140,000 students took part, along with 62,000 teachers in 5,300 schools. Most pupils interviewed were around 14 years old.

The data indicates that although social awareness among youngsters has dropped over the past decade in most countries, this is not the case in Finland and Denmark. In Finland, for example, 85 percent of students say they plan to vote as adults – well above the international average. Only a handful of the country’s teenagers say they support or plan to join any particular political party, however.

Finnish pupils also said they had confidence in the defence forces, the media, the police and the justice system, but had lost faith in market forces and religious organisations. Nine out of 10 of the country’s eighth-graders also expressed the importance of equality for all ethnic groups, although half would be in favour of limiting immigration if jobs were scarce, reports YLE.

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