CHRISTIAN KINDERGARTENS AND SCHOOLS
There is 16 Christian Schools (ages 7-16) and about 30 kindergartens (ages 1-6) in Finland.
Kindergartens and pre-primary education
Christian kindergartens provides early childhood education for children ages 1-5 years based on Christian values, 6-year-olds participate in pre-primary education. Kindergartens follows the national curriculum for early chldhood and pre-primary education. It lays special emphasize on supporting the child’s development, the importance of social and interpersonal skills, and the preparation for school.
There is 16 private Christian schools in Finland that provides high quality basic education based on Christian values. All schools follows the Finnish national curriculum. The aim is to help the students excel in their school work, find their gifts and take them into use.
Most of the schools are independent associations and not formally affiliated with any one denomination or Church but instead aims for a Christian community where students from different backgrounds are welcome.
Christian values create the base for the school’s culture. High value is put into the culture of caring and responding to the students’ educational, social, emotional and spiritual needs. Christianity is a natural part of the school life and teaching. Students are encouraged to discuss issues concerning Christianity and other world views openly and respecting each others’ views. Christianity shows also in other activities that the school provides. Schools also provides students chances to be active in influencing their environment so that when the students graduate they will have tools to manage and make constructive choices in their lives.
Background for private Christian schools
Christian school movement started in the end of 1980’s. Mission organization YWAM started to plan (year1986) a new type of Christian private school, which could be funded by the state and could belong to the official school system.
In Finland there was no law for new private schools and the Ministry of Education started to plan a new law. Actually it was then a question of one Christian school (Helsinki), which was started 1986/1987 with one teacher and 6 pupils. The school was called home schooling, because it was not accepted to the official private school system by the state.
The only religious private schools in Finland before the year 1995 were Advent Schools and Jewish School. They had their own law.
The law was changed (1995) and Helsinki Christian School received its official status. The curriculum followed Christian principles and the academic aims were standardized according to the national curriculum.
Today we have in Finland 16 private Christian schools (added some new associations planning to start a school).
A new decree since 2012 allows that Christian schools follow their worldview and interpret school subjects as well indicate Christianity in their operation culture.
Still today, the Christian schools battle on behalf of their right to follow their worldview and interpret it in the school subjects. The feedback from the National Council of Education has been more restrictive than allowing interpretation of the worldview by the schools themselves. Negotiations about the aims and content of the curricula, which started in the end of 1980’s will still continue.
In Finland there are 85 private schools. 53 of them belong to national organization. Its member schools have 20,000 pupils, of which 1,700 in Christian schools (16 schools).
Finland has 5,4 million people, 40 HEIs and comprehensive school system which covers all the country. Basic education is free of fees. Private schools cannot collect fees either, although the state and communal funding covers 90 % of the running costs.