Helsingin Suomalainen Yhteiskoulu
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Helsingin Suomalainen Yhteiskoulu, commonly abbreviated SYK, is a free Finnish private school located in the district of Etelä-Haaga in the city of Helsinki. SYK is considered to be one of the most prestigious schools in Finland.
SYK was founded in 1886. Its roots trace back to a group of notable Finnish intellectuals whose aim was to found a Finnish-language lycée for female students in order to further the education of women in Finland. By the time that this group had raised enough funds to actually found the school, the ideal of coeducational schools had gained so much ground among the members that the school that was founded in 1886 became a coeducational one. This was a very important event in the history of Finnish schools, as SYK was the first Finnish-language coeducational school in Finland.
Even today SYK is a highly respected educational institution. It offers education from 3rd to 9th grade as well as the three high school years. The matriculation examination results have been the best in Finland for several years. According to a 2010 survey, compared to most other secondary education institutes, a disproportionate amount of alumni continue with university-level studies, especially in fields such as engineering, economics or legal studies.
SYK is noted for its internationality. It is one of the 15 schools in Finland which offer the IB Diploma Programme in the equivalent of the 11th and 12th grades. After the PISA (2004 and 2005) results came out, Chinese headmasters have been a familiar sight in the corridors. Traditionally, SYK has an amicable rivalry with Helsingin normaalilyseo, another school that was originally situated in central Helsinki.
Unlike most other schools, SYK takes in students from all over the Helsinki capital area, in addition to its own district. There is only a limited amount of places so second graders have to pass entrance tests to get in. Tests measure mostly command of written Finnish and readiness to learn foreign languages, in line with the official "language focus" in its curriculum.
3rd graders begin with French, German or Russian as their first foreign language; English is only offered to those whose English level is native, or who have had their first school years taught in English.
In year five it is possible for them to start English. Two years later, 7th graders take on Swedish as the second national language. Elective fourth language starts in year eight (French, German or Russian), and fifth and/or sixth language in the high school. A typical high school graduate takes the matriculation exam in 3 to 5 foreign languages.
Another special task the school has is to take in repatriating Finnish children who may have studied in international schools abroad, offering English teaching that matches their level and possibly giving special tutoring in Finnish or other subjects. These children have the option to take French, German or Russian as their second foreign language in year 5 instead of English.
Over the years the school has contributed to the cultural and economical life of Finland through some of its well known alumni. Some of these are:
- Esa-Pekka Salonen (orchestral conductor)
- Erkki Tuomioja (Minister of Foreign Affairs)
- Matti Wuori (lawyer and member of the European Parliament)
- Henrik Tikkanen (author and artist)
- Olli Mustonen (pianist)
- Ora Lassila (computer scientist)
- Pentti Linkola (philosopher, activist and author)
- Saima Harmaja (poet)
- Suvi-Anne Siimes (politician)
- "Find an IB World School". International Baccalaureate. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- http://www.syk.fi/kielipainotus-ja-kansainv%C3%A4lisyys#Paluuoppilaat (in Finnish)