HOME SCHOOLING / INTERNATIONAL
Finland
Finland

February 14, 2013

Heroic Single Mother Withstands Ignorant School Officials

By Suomen kotiopettajat

Finland enjoys a continuous legal history of homeschooling for more than three hundred years, a unique status that describes very few countries in the world. Parents living in Finland in the late 1600s were compelled to teach their children to read. When the Finnish government introduced the first school laws in 1866, homeschooling was the educational choice of the vast majority. However, in the government guidelines for the school law, the method of education was to remain homeschool-like with significant involvement from parents.

Even today when international scholars make PISA-pilgrimages to Finland, many have noted the similarities to homeschooling that exist in the Finnish classroom. Mr. Heikki Ylikangas, celebrated national history professor of the University of Helsinki, argues that the success of the Finnish school owes much gratitude to the efforts of the parents. He explains it is Finnish parents who for generations have been responsible for their children’s education and continue even today to take a keen interest in their progress at school.

Although homeschooling has always been protected by the Finnish constitution, school officials do not always give homeschoolers the protection granted them by the law. When Dr. Christian Beck of Norway made a study of alternative learning in 2002 in northern Europe countries, the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture told him that the number of homeschoolers was minimal and that those who start home education will soon give up.

Yet not everyone gives up. There have always been a few handfuls of families numbering in the hundreds who have fulfilled the compulsory education requirement at home. Some home educating families have even stood up and protested the mistreatment of families who choose this educational option.

Niina Kankaanpää, a single mother of three sons, took her case to the Regional State Administrative Agency. In his statement on November 14, 2012, the executing lawyer of the Agency, Esko Lukkarinen, pointed out that the basic education officers in Kankaanpää’s city of Turku had broken the law at a number of points in their supervision of homeschooling. The attorney also demanded that the officers become familiar with the laws of their administration and that the city of Turku take the responsibility to brief her employees on the laws surrounding their respective jobs.

This heroic single mother withstood ignorant school officials in her city to receive a positive statement and decision for home education in Finland. We are pleased that Suomen kotiopettajat had the opportunity to help the family in the process.

Suomen kotiopettajat is the national Home Educators Association in Finland.

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