In 2016-2018, the Ministry of Education and Culture promoted and facilitated children's and young people's access to basic art education, arts and culture in a Government key project, which introduced art and cultural hobbies into schools as part of the school day. Similar activities were organised in early education centres, too. The premise of the key project was to encourage children and young people to take an active part in arts and culture by providing them with highly accessible opportunities to participate in high-quality art and culture activities taught by professional instructors and educators.
In the first phase of the key project, these activities were introduced to primary schools as voluntary extracurricular classes or clubs scheduled during or after the school day. The Ministry hoped that this would prove effective in encouraging participation by removing obstacles such as lack of time, travel, access or an overall limited offering of activities, the latter three of which were considered possible hindrances especially in the case of smaller municipalities and more remote areas. To ensure that children and young people would get to take part in activities they found interesting and meaningful, the Ministry launched a national Pupil survey to map preferred activities to all comprehensive schools in Finland.
Spanning over three years, the project was steered by the Ministry through grants. Three calls for proposals were published with the purpose of organising voluntary activities or clubs at schools. Projects taking place in early education centres could apply for funding as well with certain exceptions to the common criteria for the awarding of grants.
Organisation of the activities had to follow certain criteria, which included a minimum requirement of thirty lessons (over the school year) and adherence to the wishes expressed by pupils in the national Pupil survey. Moreover, all activities had to be planned and executed by cultural operators within the art and cultural education infrastructure that exists in Finland in addition to art education in schools. These criteria were not fully applied to activities at daycare centres, since under section 3(3) of the Act on Early Childhood Education (2018/540), the pedagogy of early childhood education in Finland should be partly based on art and cultural heritage education, providing children with positive learning experiences. Hence, organisations hoping to provide activities for younger children were invited to adopt a more sporadic approach, providing children with opportunities for out-of-the-ordinary experiences.
The implementation project ended in 2018 but the model of offering cultural and artistic activities as part of the school day has been continued through grants. In Prime Minister Sanna Marin's Government Programme (2019-), the Government guarantees that all children and young people will be a genuine opportunity to pursue a leisure activity of their choice as part of the school day. A working group chaired by State Secretary Tuomo Puumala begun preparations for a new Finnish model that would secure these opportunities in 2019.
In the external evaluation concluded in 2018, the results of the key project were deemed promising in terms of accomplishing the project's main goals. According to the evaluation, approximately 90,000 children and young people in 1,100 primary schools and 300 early education centres in Finland took part in extracurricular activities funded by the Ministry in 2016-2018. A large percentage of these children found themselves a new favourite art or cultural hobby through the project.
At the end of 2018, the national Pupil survey had received 200,000 individual responses. The response rate corresponds to a third of all pupils in Finland, providing valuable information on the demand for arts and culture activities among children and young people in Finland. All results of the survey have been published to encourage municipalities to consider their cultural offering in terms of demand.
|Type of entity|
Civil Society Organization (CSO)
The first phase of the key project (2016-2017) was evaluated by the Niilo Maki Institute. Concluded in 2018, the evaluation considered the performance of the project in terms of the overall reach and performance of the projects financed, the rate of success experienced by the parties involved and the improvement in access to arts and culture.
In terms of the overall performance of projects funded by the Ministry, the evaluation concluded that in successful projects, club instructors had both good pedagogical and group management skills, support from the work and school communities, good cooperation skills and, obviously, shared an enthusiasm for doing artistic or cultural work with children. If pupils' wishes had been taken into account in the schools, the school had a culture-friendly attitude, the school's facilities and tools could be used for project work and information about the extracurricular groups for pupils was effective, the project turned out to be successful.
The national Pupil survey revealed that most pupils were interested in many forms of art and culture. The results presented a challenge to the municipalities in Finland to improve pupils' access to art and culture for which there was a clear demand. In successful projects, the support of local authorities played a major role, as it was crucial that the local authorities had a positive attitude to improving the accessibility of art and cultural activities.