6.6 Social inclusion through education and training
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Based on Eurydice database/Finland 1 Social, Political and Economical Background and Trends it can be said the purpose of educational support and guidance in Finland is to maximise the potential of every child and young person. Educational support and guidance covers areas such as support for learning according to the individual capacity of the learners, school attendance, pupil welfare and guidance and counselling. Attention is also paid to supporting the learning of gifted pupils and students.
The Finnish education system has been based on the philosophy of inclusion for a long time. Basic education is the same for all. There is no streaming, but children are supported individually so that they can successfully complete their basic education. Support for learners is given at three levels: general, intensified and special support.
Based on the Youth Act, the Government Decree on Youth Work and Youth Policy and for example the Non-Discrimination Act, one of the main principles in organising youth work services is to foster social inclusion (see more in Youth Wiki/Finland 4.7 Youth work to foster social inclusion).
Based on Eurydice/Finland 1 Social, Political and Economical Background and Trends and 2.1 Fundamental Principles and National Policies: 'The main objective of Finnish education policy is to offer all citizens equal opportunities to receive education, regardless of age, domicile, financial situation, sex, mother tongue or religion. Education is considered to be one of the fundamental rights of all citizens. Firstly, provisions concerning fundamental educational rights guarantee everyone (not just Finnish citizens) the right to free basic education; the provisions also specify compulsory education. Basic and compulsory education is stipulated in more detail in the Basic Education Act. Secondly, the public authorities are also obligated to guarantee everyone an equal opportunity to obtain other education besides basic education according to their abilities and special needs, and to develop themselves without being prevented by economic hardship. Education is also free at all levels from pre-primary to higher education.'
Based on Eurydice/Finland 12. Educational Support and Guidance: 'The starting point for the provision of education, guidance and support is attendance to a good and safe school day. Schoolwork should be organised so that the conditions are as favourable as possible for the pupils’ well-being, development and learning. The school community should be safe, friendly and respectful in terms of atmosphere. Teachers are required to treat the children as individuals and help them to proceed according to their own capabilities. Pupils should also experience success and joy of learning. Basic education promotes encouraging interaction, co-operation, joint responsibility and involvement. Special attention is paid to pupils’ opportunities to influence their own work and the learning environment.
A collaborative, supportive school forms an appreciative school community for its members: pupils, teachers and other personnel. The school co-operates with pre-primary education and other forms of early childhood education and care, morning and afternoon activities, other schools providing basic education, educational institutions offering further studies, health care and social services, as well as other parties involved in supporting children’s growth and development.'
The recent reform to raise the minimum school leaving age to 18 years and provide cost-free secondary studies for the students has supported equality in the field of education. The aim of the Government Programme 2020–2023 is for all students who have completed their comprehensive school education to gain an upper secondary qualification. For more information, see Youth Wiki/Finland 6.3 Preventing early leaving from education and training (ELET).
The Right to Learn development programmes aims to secure an equal start for learning by improving quality and equality in early childhood education and care (ECEC) and comprehensive school education. The Ministry of Education and Culture implements the programmes between 2020 and 2022. The Development Programme for Quality and Equality in Early Childhood Education and Care aims to find ways for more children to participate in ECEC. By enhancing pre-primary and early primary education, it will improve the early learning of basic skills and provide better support for such learning. The Development Programme for Quality and Equality in Comprehensive School Education aims to identify effective measures to reverse the growth of inequality and to reduce group sizes. The objective is to reduce and prevent learning differences arising from children’s socioeconomic status, immigrant background or gender, to strengthen support for learning and for special needs, and to improve literacy.
See also Youth Wiki/Finland 4.4 Inclusive Programmes for Young People for strategic priorities for promoting multiculturalism, a sense of community and inclusion, gender equality and sustainable development as outlined by the Ministry of Education and Culture.