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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
National reforms in early childhood education and care


14.Ongoing reforms and policy developments

14.1National reforms in early childhood education and care

Last update: 16 June 2022


Finland promotes and improves early childhood education provided in a hospital

Ministry of Education and Culture grants one million euros for the development of early childhood education provided in a hospital. A special state grant is intended to those municipalities and joint municipal authorities that are interested in developing ECEC for children in need of hospital care. At the present time, the provision of early childhood education for children in hospital varies between regions and it is not available in all hospitals.  

The objective of the special grant is to enable children to take part in early childhood education both during hospitalisation and the transition period when the child has returned home but participation in traditional ECEC is not yet possible for health reasons. One of the objectives is as well to promote co-operation and networking between regional and national organisations providing early childhood education in hospitals.

The special grant strengthens the possibility to participate in early childhood education for children who otherwise remain out of ECEC services due to illness or injury. Participation in ECEC activities during a hospital period would bring joy to children’s life and support children's development and learning


Two-year pre-primary education trial 

A two-year pre-primary education trial will be launched in Finland in August 2021. 

The trial aims to

  • develop the quality and effectiveness of pre-primary education from different angles, 
  • examine the continuity of ECEC, pre-primary education and first years of primary education, 
  • examine what choices for services parents have 
  • collect information on effects of two-year pre-primary education on children’s development and learning, on their social skills and how healthy self-esteem is built.

Participation in the two-year pre-primary education programme is free of charge. Altogether approximately 10,000 children from all over Finland will participate in the trial.

The two-year pre-primary education programme follows a pilot curriculum. A research project will monitor and evaluate the trial. 
The trial is part of the comprehensive development programme “Right to Learn – An Equal Start on the Path of Education” (2020-2022). 


Action plan to prevent bullying

The Ministry of Education and Culture, in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, has prepared a comprehensive action plan to prevent bullying, teasing, violence and harassment in schools and educational institutions. 

The means of the program range from actions to prevent bullying to teacher training aiming to promote well-being of pupils and students by various means. The goal is to ensure that every child and young person can attend school safely and to ensure zero tolerance for school bullying.

Activities to fight against bullying need to begin already in early childhood education and care. According to the action plan a separate programme is needed to support emotional intelligence and social skills in early childhood education and care as a means of preventing bullying and teasing. 

Provisions on bullying and harassment in the Act on General Upper Secondary Education and in the Act on Vocational Education and Training should be made more specific. Therefore, there is a need for some amendments to current legislation.

The action plan includes 14 measures, for example 
•    Equipping children with necessary tools to develop emotional intelligence and social skills already at the early childhood education. 
•    Providing adequate training for teachers so they can detect and prevent bullying and loneliness among pupils, granting teachers and principals the authority to intervene in disagreements and act against bullies if needed 
•    Hiring more psychologists for schools.

Institutions are also encouraged to cooperate with police, social workers and youth workers to ensure a safe and peaceful environment. 

Bullying and teasing takes also place outside school time, at pupil’s leisure time. Youth workers meet students and young people outside of school and therefore the government considers it important to introduce the methods and practices used by youth workers in schools and educational institutions

More information Action plan to prevent bullying – resources, education and legislative amendments at the centre


Program measures in Finnish Ohjelman toimenpiteet


Digital quality assessment system, Valkea 

The FINEEC (Finnish Education Evaluation Centre) has a statutory task to evaluate ECEC and to support ECEC providers in their quality management. As part of this task, FINEEC is developing a digital quality assessment system (Valkea) that can be used to collect information and produce analyses that support the development of ECEC at both local and national levels. 

The system will provide materials and tools that support providers in their self-evaluation task, but it will also support the national evaluation of ECEC. 

Valkea digital system is developed in close cooperation with researchers and other experts but also users. The system is estimated to be completed in 2023. The system is funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture.



The subjective right of all children to full-time ECEC restored

The ECEC Act  was amended to restore the subjective right of all children to full-time ECEC. The amendment aims to reinforce the equality of children irrespective of family situation.

Since 2016, the subjective right had been limited to 20 hours per week. The right to full-time ECEC existed but did not apply to all children. It was subject to e.g. family’s employment situation and child’s other circumstances. Some municipalities didn't introduce the restriction at all but maintained the subjective right to full-time ECEC for all children even during 2016-2020.

Another simultaneous amendment reduced the group size for children aged 3 and over in centre-based ECEC. The staff:child ratio returned to 1:7 after having been 1:8 in 2016-2020. The aim was to improve the quality of ECEC. When there are more educators per children, they have better opportunities to meet the individual needs of each child. 

Both amendments entered into force in August 2020.


Government launches the Right to learn programme   

The Right to learn - equal start to learning paths programme for 2020-2022 spans from ECEC to  basic education. It comprises projects improving quality and equality. 180 million euros is allocated to basic education and 125 million to ECEC. The programme aims to reduce differences in learning outcomes connected to childrens’ socio-economic background, gender or immigrant background.  


Additional funding to pilot providing free ECEC to five-year-olds

In Finland, the participation rate of five-year-olds in ECEC is lower than in other OECD countries on average. To increase participation the Ministry of education and culture grants funding for municipalities participating in the pilot to cover some of the loss of revenue due to providing free ECEC for five-year-olds. This is a continuation of a pilot started in August of 2018. The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre evaluates the outcomes of the measures. The first report will come out in October of 2019. 

For more information in Finnish: