Minority education high in the North: Study visit to the Finland-Swedes11.10.2023
Although our FUEN headquarters in Flensburg is already in the absolute north from many people's point of view, it is possible to go much further north: last week, a three-member FUEN delegation set off for the Finnish capital Helsinki/Helsingfors. The aim: to gain insights into the education system of the Finland-Swedes and to establish contacts for further cooperation.
In Finland, almost 300,000 people belong to the Swedish minority, so-called Finland-Swedes. This corresponds to a good five per cent of the population. Most of them live in the coastal regions in the south and west of Finland. Like other minorities in Europe, they are also struggling with a decline in their population, which is why language preservation is high on the agenda.
FUEN Vice-President Gösta Toft, Bérengère Vogel, coordinator of the Education Working Group and political advisor Johan Häggman learned a lot about the challenges and achievements of the Finland-Swedes from various experts from politics and education. The programme included talks at the Finnish Ministry of Education, the Folktinget - the Swedish assembly in Finland - and at a foundation. The FUEN delegation also got to know the school practice itself during a visit to a grammar school and was thus not only able to gain interesting insights, but also to take away important inspiration for future fields of work.
Gösta Toft, Bérengère Vogel and Niklas Wahlström from the foundation "Svenska Folkskolans Vänner".
The Swedish schools in Finland are publicly financed and on an equal footing with Finnish schools. This means that a Swedish-language education is possible from nursery school to university. As became clear during the visit, this ensures the preservation of the Swedish language, but has the disadvantage that Finnish language skills often fall by the wayside, which can have a negative effect on career choices - for example, if a career in public administration is desired.
The well-being of students is a focus in Finland, as this presentation from the National Board of Education shows.
In general, Finland faces a major demographic problem: On average, the fewest children are currently born there in comparison to the rest of Europe, which poses great challenges for society. For a minority in particular, this can become a threat to their existence.
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