Education is compulsory for all children residing permanently in Finland. Local authorities provide basic education for school-aged children and preschool education during the year prior to the beginning of compulsory education. Compulsory education starts the year when a child turns seven. It ends when the child has completed basic education, or after 10 years. Local authorities may arrange morning and afternoon activities for pupils in 1st and 2nd grades and for disabled pupils.
In Finland, the entire age cohort receives a uniform basic education. Education is based on the pupil’s own development and needs. Teachers must have a university-level academic degree that includes extensive practical training in the field. Remedial teaching, special education and other support services are arranged for pupils with learning and adaptation difficulties. Special needs teachers and other support personnel are in charge of special needs education, and psychologists, welfare officers and special needs assistants are involved in student welfare services. There is co-operation particularly between the school and the social department, and between the school and families.
Finnish basic education ranks at the top in international comparisons of learning performance (OECD, PISA survey). The main reason behind the outstanding results is local self-government, which has made it possible to organise basic education so that the needs of pupils in all age groups are met, not forgetting local conditions. Good performance is also reinforced by high-level pedagogic standards for teachers and the uniform quality of schools regardless of location. Education and the competence gained through education are seen as prerequisites for Finnish competitiveness and other economic prosperity. International comparisons have shown that the costs of education per pupil are quite reasonable in Finland.