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October 8, 2010

Finnish Homeschoolers Want Partnership, not Confrontation

In Finland, interest in homeschooling is growing. But even though there is an apparent pro-homeschool sentiment in parliament, many families still encounter difficulty with local government officials.

For example, the Finnish municipality of Hammarland is placing demands upon the Hammarnejd family to conduct their homeschool in a way that mirrors the local public school. While the Finnish Constitution and the country’s education law protect the right of parents to educate their children “otherwise” than at school, many officials attempt to coerce homeschool families into practically the same program as at their local school. Some municipalities require homeschoolers to take the same examinations as the schools and to follow the public school curriculum precisely. These requirements contradict the law, which states that local authorities hold only a supervisory role where homeschoolers are concerned.

Another point of contention is that schools often deny educational materials to homeschooled students—another misapplication of the law, since the central government grants funds to the local governments for educational materials for all children. Finnish law states that every student should be awarded the necessary textbooks and learning materials, but schools often refuse to provide these items.

Representatives from Suomen kotiopettajat, the Finnish Home Educators Association, have secured an upcoming meeting with Timo Lankinen, director general of the Finnish National Board of Education. After months of seeking an appointment with the Board, homeschoolers were pleased to receive a positive reply. They are hopeful that this meeting will help to create a better atmosphere for homeschoolers in Finland. The organization appreciates your prayers as they seek to ease the tension between local school authorities and homeschoolers on the topic of supervision. Please pray that they will be winsome and effective as they communicate with Mr. Lankinen and that relations between school authorities and homeschoolers would be based on partnership rather than confrontation.

 Other Resources

Please visit the Suomen kotiopettajat website to learn more about homeschooling in Finland.