Intake in degree programmes in ECEC to be increased
To address the shortage of personnel in Early Childhood Education and Care, the available student places in ECEC teacher education will be increased in 2024-2025. The Ministry of Education and Culture has allocated additional funds to 7 universities for this purpose.
Additionally, Prime Minister Orpo's government program (2023) outlines the increase of student places in the degree programmess of both teachers and social pedagogues in ECEC.
Client fees for early childhood education and care lowered
Families pay fees for ECEC in Finland. The fees vary between 0 – 295 € in full-day provision depending on family’s income and the size of the family.
The income thresholds on which the fees are based increased by 33% in March 2023. The purpose of lower client fees is to boost the purchasing power of families with children, and support low- and medium-income families, since living costs and electricity prices have raised. It is expected that lower fees bring about a higher participation rate in early childhood education and care.
As a result of the change, approximately 30 000 families will be entitled to free early childhood education and care.
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 was 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
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.