Countries around the world are facing an inevitable spread of false information. But Finland, Europe’s most resistant nation to fake news, is tackling this issue by ensuring even primary school kids learn to recognize signs of misinformation.
By secondary school, students start learning how easy it is to lie in statistics in their math lessons, how an image could be misinterpreted in art classes, and how to analyze propaganda campaigns in history. As for language courses, they learn how words can be used to deceive.
“The goal is active, responsible citizens and voters,” says Kari Kivinen, head teacher of a state-run college in Helsinki. “Thinking critically, factchecking, interpreting and evaluating all the information you receive, wherever it appears, is crucial. We’ve made it a core part of what we teach, across all subjects.”
The Finnish government created the unique program to fight disinformation after the nation was first targeted with fake news by Russia in 2014. The program’s success has brought Finland to the top of an annual index measuring resistance to fake news in 35 European countries.