Finland offers equal learning opportunities for all

Striving to enhance the individuality and development of each student

Children with multicultural background, special needs or talents are all individual learners

  • The reforms of school administration have reduced the number of special education schools and special education classes in mainstream schools during the last decades.
  • It is the duty of the municipality and the individual schools to include pupils with special educational needs in the mainstream educational system.
  • The first alternative for providing special needs support is to include pupils with special educational needs in mainstream classes and, when necessary, provide special needs education in small teaching groups.
  • Only when this is not feasible is the second alternative considered: The provision of special needs education in a special group, class or school.
  • The strategy for the development of special needs and inclusive education emphasises the importance of the wide basic education network, which supports the right of every child to attend the nearest mainstream school.
  • Developing inclusive education stresses the central role of teachers. Teachers cannot cope on their own with these heterogeneous groups; inclusion requires active co-operation between teachers, teaching assistants, other professionals and parents.

Support for individual learning needs

In order to be able to provide equal opportunities for learning to every pupil, support actions play a key role.

  • A cooperation between a team of professionals makes every pupil’s lifelong learning and inclusion possible.
  • Special educators, classroom teachers and education assistants work closely together in Finnish schools.
  • The support actions are provided for pupils with varying needs. Support may be necessary due to mental, physical, behavioral, cultural, linguistic or other reasons.
  • Gifted pupils and students might also need special support for their studies.

Support actions entail removing the following types of barriers:

  • learning
  • physical
  • attitudinal
  • pedagogical achievement
  • early intervention
  • support

The three-stage support system

  • The new systematic way of organising support has been implemented nationwide since 2010 in pre-primary and basic education.
  • The focus is on providing support as early as possible in order to prevent the emergence and growth of problems.
  • Support for growth, learning and school attendance is shaped into three categories:
    • general support
    • intensified support
    • special support
  • Everyone is entitled to general support. It is a natural part of everyday teaching and the learning process.
  • Intensified support and special support are based on careful assessment and long-term planning in multi-professional teams, using individual learning plans for pupils.

Multicultural & multilingual education

In addition to a multicultural preparatory education, there are also bilingually enriched education programs offered

  • National core curriculum sets the guidelines for preparatory education for preparing immigrants for basic education
  • The objective is to support the pupils’ balanced development and integration into Finnish society and to give them the necessary skills to enable them to attend basic education.
  • After the preparatory education the students are able to attend the nearest mainstream school.

        Read more about immigrant education

Multicultural & multilingual classrooms in Joensuu

The city of Joensuu has become known for its high-quality multicultural education and language learning methods.

  • The preparatory education for pupils with an immigrant background is given either in preparatory groups or inclusively in the children’s nearest daycare centre or school.
  • The emphasis is on Finnish language studies and on the learning targets for different subjects. Teaching is conducted in Finnish.
  • The preparatory groups are focused on a few schools in Joensuu. Those pupils who have already taken part in pre-school education in Finland are able to complete their preparatory education inclusively with mainstream groups.
  • Finnish as a second language– studies are intended for pupils who do not have Finnish as their native language.
    The study plan of the studies follows the curriculum.

Support for learning

  • Pupils with immigrant backgrounds can receive support for their studies in different subjects.
  • The support is generally provided in Finnish, Russian and Arabic, but also via other language teachers if necessary.
  • The aim is to provide immigrant pupils with instruction in their mother tongue on a weekly basis, if possible.

The basic education for adults

  • Adults with immigrant backgrounds can also take part in basic education studies.
  • Basic adult education is provided to students aged 17 and above.
  • An individual study plan is designed for every adult student.
  • The study programme follows the national curriculum for adult basic education.

Supporting inclusion in the community

  • The city of Joensuu has excellent examples of good practises and various materials that can be made use of to create joint activities between minorities and mainstream cultural groups.

Selected examples of such models and materials:

  • Matroskin movie and toolbox
  • Exhibitions and training sessions for different groups of participants
  • Family school activities
  • Summer school activities
  • Art club activities
    • e.g. the multicultural theatre association RanKids ry (in Finnish)

The bilingual study routes

You can enrich your learning via English or Russian language throughout basic education studies

  • In Joensuu, it is possible to receive a bilingual education to enrich your language learning in English or Russian.
  • The aim is to support and inspire pupils’ language learning by gradually increasing their exposure to foreign languages.
  • You are warmly invited to familiarise with our bilingual study routes and education providers

The English language education

  • The English language education can be started from the age of 3 at The English Kindergarten of Joensuu.
  • In basic education, there is an English-speaking primary School for grades 1–6 (Kanervala School) and classes with an English-language emphasis for grades 7–9 (Lyseo Comprehensive School).
  • The upper secondary education can be accomplished in English through the International Baccalaureate programme (at Joensuu’s Lyseon lukio, or senior high school).
  • When teaching English-speaking children, their command of the Finnish language and the duration of their stay in Finland will be taken into account.

The Russian-enriched education

  • The Russian-enriched education is handled by the Finnish-Russian School.
  • The school offers education from pre-school until the end of upper secondary school.
  • Teaching is mainly in Finnish, however certain parts of the curriculum are taught in Russian.
  • One fifth of the students continue their studies of Russian as a mother tongue with a native teacher.
  • An integral part of the school’s curriculum is to offer pupils opportunities to acquire communicative competence in a foreign language and the ability to behave appropriately in a foreign culture.
  • The school has several cooperation projects with schools in Russia. Study trips, exchange programmes and cultural events have been quite popular among the students.
  • International visitors have found the school and its learning environments a very interesting place to visit.

In early education, foreign language is taught through play and games, whereas in upper secondary education almost all the courses can be implemented in a foreign language.