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Basic education

The objective of basic education in Finland is to support pupils’ growth towards humanity and ethically responsible membership of society and to provide them with the knowledge and skills needed in life.

Basic education lasts for 9 years and it is for all youngsters between 7 and 15 years. Pre-primary education starts one year before basic education at the age of 6. Basic education is provided in a single structure system. It includes grades 1-9. 

Municipalities are responsible for arranging education for all 6 – 18 years old living in a municipality.  

Pre-primary and basic education are free for pupils. Pupils get also free learning materials, daily school meal, health and welfare services and transport from home to school if the way to school is long or dangerous.

Every pupil is allocated a place in a nearby school, but they can also choose another school with some restrictions.

All schools follow a national core curriculum, which includes objectives and core contents of different subjects. The education providers - most often municipalities as the local education authorities - and the schools themselves draw up their own curricula within the framework of the national core curriculum.

Basics on basic education

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National core curriculum for basic education

The national core curriculum provides a uniform foundation for local curricula. The purpose of the curriculum is to enable a reform of school culture and school pedagogy which will improve the quality of the learning process and enhance learning outcomes. Find our more about the key principles in the national core curriculum.

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Distribution of lesson hours

The overall distribution of lesson hours for basic education and the minimum number of lessons for core subjects during basic education are decided by the Government.

Interesting aspects of Finnish education

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School meals in Finland

In Finland, each child and young person attending pre-primary, basic and upper secondary education can enjoy a free school meal. Nearly 850,000 pupils and students are entitled to free school lunch.

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Move! - monitoring system for physical functional capacity

Move! is a national physical functional capacity monitoring and feedback system for Finnish 5th and 8th grade pupils. The main purpose of the system is to encourage pupils to independently take care of their physical functional capacity.