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Homeschooling Gains Attention in Finland

In Finland—a Nordic land of reindeer, saunas, and over 100,000 lakes—homeschooling is on the rise. The Finnish Home Educators Association, Suomen kotiopettajat, currently estimates the number of homeschoolers at approximately 250 students. Over the course of 2010, though, there have been signs that the greater Finnish population has taken notice of the phenomenon of homeschooling. The media establishment has repeatedly portrayed homeschooling in a favorable light. Multiples articles on homeschool families who are members of Suomen kotiopettajat appeared in the Finnish news over the summer. All of the articles viewed homeschooling and a parent’s right to direct the education of their children from a positive perspective. The evening paper with the largest circulation in Finland, Ilta-Sanomat, recently polled its readers on homeschooling: forty percent of Finns who responded stated that they would consider homeschooling as an educational option. There has also been a great increase on online discussion boards on the topic of home education.

The legal situation for homeschoolers in Finland is the third best after Canada and the United States, according to Dr. Christian Beck of Norway. Homeschooling is protected by both the Constitution and the Law. The Basic Education Law (628/1998) states in paragraphs 1 and 3 of § 26 that compulsory education may be received in state-established institutions or “otherwise.” If a child of compulsory age does not participate in education at a local school, the local authority of the pupil’s place of residence shall “supervise” the child’s progress.

The Ministry of Education and local authorities at times misinterpret the law and fight against families who choose to homeschool. Leaders from Suomen kotiopettajat state that a “change of attitude [regarding homeschooling] would be of great help” to homeschoolers in Finland, since the law requires supervision of homeschoolers and thus cooperation with local authorities. Other needs of Finnish homeschoolers involve the continued growth of local support networks which will help homeschoolers find each others in their communities.

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