Compulsory Education Age
7–18 years old
Estimated Number of Homeschool Families
The new Compulsory Education Act (1214/2020) raised the education age from 17 to 18 years. Education starts at the age of seven, which has not changed. The provisions on compulsory education were transferred from the Basic Education Act (628/1998) to
the Compulsory Education Act (214/2020). There are now two different definitions for basic education; grades 1 to 9 in the Basic Education Act and grades 1 to 12 in the Compulsory Education Act and the Constitution.
The present Basic Education Act 628/1998 is moderate about home education. Section 26 subsection 3 states that the local authority of the pupil’s place of residence shall supervise his or her progress. This is in line with the superior statute of the Constitution. Parents have the right to organize their education and the municipality has no mandate to force supervision; procedure must be agreed in equal terms.
The New Constitution 731/1999, entered into force on 1 March 2000, no longer explicitly mentions home education. However, the Travaux Préparatoires says that this does not show intention to change the position of home education. According to the Constitution, Section 16, subsection 1, “Everyone has the right to basic education free of charge." Provisions on compulsory education, which includes home education, are laid down by the Basic Education Act Section 26, subsection 1, which says that “A child of compulsory education age must . . . otherwise obtain knowledge corresponding to the basic education syllabus.”
The Compulsory Education Act states that it is the responsibility of the guardian to see that compulsory education is completed. Homeschooling is explicitly legal K - 12. The Basic Education Act states that if a child of compulsory education age does not participate in education provided under the Basic Education Act, the local authority of the pupil’s place of residence shall supervise his or her progress. The National Board of Education has given legally non-binding guidelines (hereafter NBE Guidelines 2010, updated 2021).
Homeschooling does not require permission from public authorities, however, the guardian of the child is liable for the education of the child. Parents who deliberately or of gross carelessness fail to comply with this duty may become subject to the imposition of fines. Decisions on how the supervision of homeschooling is organized are made on the municipality level. Usually, the responsible local authority assigns a teacher to assess the progress of the child. Nothing is stipulated about how often assessments should be done, but according to the NBE, they commonly take place once or twice a year.
The progress of homeschooled children is assessed and monitored in relation to the objectives of those subjects listed in the basic education syllabus. Progress may be assessed by means of discussions, verbal and oral examinations, and skill demonstrations. Diverse types of skill demonstrations or portfolios are used when assessing progress in art and physical education.
The Constitution Section 16 is clear (The Constitutional Law Committee, PeVL 43/2020 vp), that basic education (1 - 12) stated in The Compulsory Education Act (1214/2020) must be free of charge, leaving no need for lower level funding regulations (Parliamentary Ombudsman 14202010 of 13 January 2014). The NBE Guidelines 2010 spell out that, because a homeschooled child is not registered as a pupil in any school, the municipality has no duty to offer school books, meals, travels, health care, or any other entitlement prescribed by the law for children attending education in schools. Nonetheless, it is also mentioned in the Guidelines that no law provision prohibits municipalities from providing free school books or other services to homeschooled children. Thus, the decision is left to the discretion of local authorities.
Finland is rechtsstaat; rule of law is confirmed in the Constitution Section 1 Subsection 3. The municipalities must adhere to the law, not necessarily the NBE Guidelines. NBE has the mandate to give obligatory ordinances, but has decided not to in relation
to home education. (The District Court of Varsinais-Suomi 14/146872 5 of November 2014)