Governance in Finland is based on the principle of decentralisation. Although the Ministry of Education and Culture defines education policy and the Finnish National Agency for Education is responsible for its implementation, local authorities have a significant amount of autonomy and responsibility.
Ministry of Education and Culture
Education policy is defined by Parliament and Government. The Ministry of Education and Culture is the highest authority and is responsible for all publicly funded education in Finland. It is responsible for preparing educational legislation and its share of the state budget for the Government.
There are several expert bodies supporting the work of the Ministry, such as the National Forum for Skills Anticipation, National Sports Council and State Youth Council. National evaluations of learning outcomes are organised by the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre.
Finnish National Agency for Education
The Finnish National Agency for Education is a national development agency, which works in close co-operation with the Ministry to develop educational objectives, content and methods for early childhood pre-primary, basic, upper secondary and adult education and training. It is not responsible for higher education.
The Finnish National Agency for Education is responsible for drawing up and approving the national core curricula and requirements of qualifications for early childhood, pre-primary, primary and lower secondary, general and vocational upper secondary and adult education. In addition to the core curricula, the Agency monitors and develops educational expenditure, allocated state subsidies and assists the Ministry of Education and Culture in the preparation of education policy decisions.
At regional level there are several bodies, which are responsible for tasks concerning education. There are 6 Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVIs) and 15 Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY). The AVIs cooperate with the ELYs in educational tasks.
Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVIs) are responsible for the regional tasks of the Ministry of Education and Culture. AVIs also promote the fulfilment of legal protection of pupils and students and assesses regional and equal access to basic services. The agencies work in close collaboration with local authorities.
Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY) plan, monitor and develop adult education. Additionally, ELY Centres are responsible for development of vocational and adult education and matters concerning the financing of the European Social Fund (ESF) projects. They also help to develop upper secondary and higher education with EU project funding. The Regional Councils draw up regional development plans in co-operation with the local authorities within their respective regions and the state authorities as well as representatives of economic life and non-governmental organisations. A central objective of the legislation on regional policy is to support the self-motivated and balanced development of regions.
Local administration is mainly managed by the local authorities. Most commonly these are municipalities or joint municipal authorities which have self-government and the right to levy taxes. The local authorities are responsible for organising early childhood education and care, pre-primary and basic education at a local level. They are mainly responsible for financing these as well.
The task of the local authorities is to offer all children of compulsory school age – including those with mental or physical impairments – an opportunity to learn according to their abilities. The local authorities make decisions on allocation of funding and recruitment of personnel. They can also delegate the decision-making power to the schools.
The education providers, usually municipalities and the schools themselves, draw up their own local curricula within the framework of the national core curriculum. They are also responsible for practical teaching arrangements, the effectiveness, and quality of their education. That is to say, as long as the basic functions determined by law, are carried out, the schools have the right to provide educational services according to their own administrative arrangements and visions.