The Finnish Trade Union of Education (OAJ) demands that the scope of pre-primary education be expanded by a year to also include five-year-old children.
“The society is increasingly aware of the significance of high-quality early-childhood and pre-primary education for the educational path of children. OAJ’s next objective is to have all five-year-olds participate in pre-primary education and have the change laid out in the next government programme,” declares Olli Luukkainen, the chairperson of OAJ.
Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (NCP), the Minister of Education, expressed her tentative support for the proposal in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat on Thursday.
“The National Coalition believes based on research findings that the most effective approach is to invest in the early years. If compulsory education is expanded, it should be done from the beginning,” she stated.
Grahn-Laasonen also revealed that one of the more pressing objectives of education policy is to bring children of immigrant backgrounds to the scope of early-childhood education as early as possible. This, she added, could be accomplished by overhauling the family leave system that encourages parents to take care of their children at home.
“Studies show that early-childhood education is an effective way to support the later learning and development of children. It makes it possible to detect and assist with learning difficulties at an earlier stage,” she said to Helsingin Sanomat.
Roughly a fifth of five-year-old children are currently not participating in the early-childhood education.
Sami Savio (PS), a member of the Parliament’s Education Committee, contrastively voiced his opposition to the proposal to expand the scope of pre-primary education.
“Learning is extremely important, but there is plenty of time to start the long educational path slightly later. The proposal clearly reflects the advocacy efforts of one trade union while children’s perspective is ignored. This is very regrettable because what’s beneficial for children is also beneficial for the society,” he said.
Finland’s basic education act stipulates that compulsory basic education starts in the year when a child turns seven and that the child must have participated in pre-primary education during the year preceding the start of basic education.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi