The terms digitalization and information and communication technologies (ICTs) are mainly used in government documents such as the Curriculum for Basic Education (2014), The Finnish Framework for Digital Competence (2022), Guidelines for Digitalization of Education and Training 2027, as well as Digivision for higher education (https://digivisio2030.fi) and New Literacies Development program (2020).
Another term used in the context of education and technology is media literacy. The 2019 National media education policy defines media literacy as all skills related to using and consuming media as well as understanding of media and skills related to creating media content. Media education, on the other hand, covers all types of media and media literacy promotion for all target groups, including children, adolescents and adults. Other terms, such as media education, media skills, or multiliteracy, are also used in addition to media literacy. The Framework for Digital Competence includes also the description of media literacy.
Constitution and laws: Neither the 1998 Basic Education Act (628/1998), the Act on General Upper Secondary Education (714/2018) nor the 2020 Compulsory Education Act discusses the use of technology in the education system. ICT or digital learning is also not included in the basic education syllabus core subjects. It is part of all school subjects as a transversal competence. The 1998 Basic Education Act (628/1998) allows distance education for persons other than pupils of compulsory school age. The 1999 Constitution of Finland (as amended in 2018) does not refer to technology.
The Matriculation Examination (i.e. the national school-leaving examination at the end of the general upper secondary education) has been organised digitally since the autumn of 2016. The digital examination makes it possible to use more materials with test items: e.g. pictures, video and audio. The Abitti 2025 development project will update the testing system, so that the examinations can continue to be digitally organised.
Policies, plans and strategies: The Education Policy Report (2021) defines Finland's guidelines for the advancement of education, training and research until 2040. Also “Policies for the digitalisation of education and training until 2027” was published in 2023.” The 2021 Education Policy Report emphasizes the use of new technologies and digitalization to support, promote and access learning, as well as to foster and develop digital competencies and media literacy in the education system. It aims to produce a “national strategy for the digitalization of learning environments and digital learning solutions together with an action plan for implementing it. The strategy will include a section on operating culture and pedagogical development. In cooperation with higher education institutions, basic education and key stakeholders, a digital service ecosystem of education will be built and deployed. Its purpose will be supporting learning, lowering the threshold and expanding opportunities for participating in education, and improving the accessibility of education.” New literacies development program as a part of Right to Learn program 2020-2023 promotes students’ digital competence: media literacy, ICT competence and programming competence.
Finlands’s digital compass aims to strengthen digital skills. The 2019 National media education policy aims to clarify the field of media education and describe the strengths, values and principles of media education in Finland. This document also highlights areas for improvement and the related social, cultural and technological development trends. According to the 2019 National media education policy, the Ministry of Education and Culture will initiate measures that develop children and adolescents’ programming, media literacy, and ICT skills at school and in their leisure time and support the teaching of transversal competencies. Basic education should give children and adolescents the knowledge and skills that they need in life. These include media literacy and information and communications technology skills necessary in studies and working life, for example. These skills are also essential elements of civic competence that everyone should be entitled to as equally as possible from basic education onwards.
The 2023 Official view of the Ministry of Education and Culture on the elections for the coming government term supports the need to strengthen basic linguistic, mathematical and digital skills. Digital skills in particular are emphasized so that the learning skills of young people are safeguarded in their future educational path and working life. Digital skills are strengthened in a wide area: descriptions of digital skills/competencies, evaluation criteria for digital skills, and monitoring and reporting of skill levels are created for children, young people, and education and teaching staff.
The Right to Learn development programmes aim to secure an equal start for learning by improving quality and equality in early childhood education and care (ECEC) and comprehensive school education. As part of the development programs, the New Literacies development program is to strengthen media literacy, ICT competence and programming skills of children and young people in ECEC and in Basic Education.
Digital competency frameworks: In spring 2021, the Finnish National Agency for Education and the National Audiovisual Institute published descriptions of targeted competence in ICT, media literacy and programming skills. The descriptions of competence are based on the national core curricula for early childhood education and care and those for pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education. The National Audiovisual Institute and the Finnish National Agency for Education are jointly responsible for developing the descriptions. Descriptions of good and advanced competence were produced for each year of primary and lower secondary education. Descriptions of good pedagogical practices were prepared for early childhood education and care, pre-primary education, basic and secondary education.
The 2023 Official view of the Ministry of Education and Culture on the elections for the coming government term supports the digital competence and ability of professionals in education, teaching and training to use digital solutions. The Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish National Agency for Education will approve minimum quality standards and criteria for the digitization of teaching and learning environments and their development.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: In 2020, the Ministry of Education and Culture launched the New Literacies Programme for 2020-2023, which is part of the Ministry’s wider Right to Learn programme.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The 2017 Government Report on the National Energy and Climate Strategy for 2030 mentions the potential for small-scale production of solar power residentials, including schools to have considerable potential for increasing solar electricity generation (Green agenda)
Computers and devices: The 2021 Education Policy Report establishes that sufficient resources at all levels of education are needed to develop high-quality Finnish learning resources that meet the requirements of the curricula. Practically all schools have the necessary computer equipment with internet access, and for those that do not, specific projects were established to provide it.
Internet connectivity: In 2010, Finland became the first country in the world to make broadband a legal right (basic communication service in the same way as telephone service or mail) for every citizen.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The provision of flexible and remote education is included in many government documents and laws. The 2021 Education Policy Report emphasized how technology and digital learning support learning and create accessible environments to meet the need of different learners. Additionally, it promotes a digital environment and platforms to support and complement the learning process.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry has coordinated the national COVID-19 response in education in close collaboration with the health authorities, regional authorities, and the Finish National Agency for Education (EDUFI). Section 20a of the Act on the Temporary Amendments to the Basic Education Act says, ' During exceptional teaching arrangements, teaching is organized partly or entirely as non-contact teaching, using remote connections’. If, as a result of a decision issued under the Communicable Diseases Act, teaching cannot be arranged safely as contact teaching at a school or a place where education is provided, the education provider may decide to implement exceptional teaching arrangements that include distance learning.
Learning continuity was ensured through distance education using digital technology in teaching and learning. Face-to-face provisions continued to be made available for certain pupils. However, no distance learning programmes were centrally provided during the pandemic. Due to their level of autonomy, teachers were able to choose the pedagogical methods, materials, online learning platforms and applications they used with their students.
In Finland, digital literacy is implemented in the national curricula. The 2014 National Core Curriculum for Basic Education includes seven transversal competencies, including ICT competence and media literacy. In primary school, students are meant to gain ICT competence in four main areas: 1) understanding the use and principles of ICT for making products; 2) using ICT in responsible, safe and ergonomic ways; 3) using ICT in information searches as well as for inquiry and creativity; and 4) using ICT in interaction and networking. In upper secondary school, the term for digital technology is also ICT, although in primary school, “multiliteracy” is used when speaking about the Finnish language (Finnish National Agency for Education, 2019).
The 2019 National media education policy supports the local curriculum work by “considering the areas of transversal competence, such as multidisciplinary and creative expertise, social competence and global and cultural competence in the focus areas, forms and means of supporting the implementation. In the development of upper secondary school diplomas, attention will be paid to the demonstration of multiliteracy as well as ICT skills.”
The 2021 Education Policy Report establishes that digital competence should be promoted and that digital learning materials and flexible, versatile learning environments should be developed equally in both national languages. Also, it recommends that age-appropriate opportunities to improve critical literacy be made available to all children and adolescents through various sources, considering their ages. The report encourages the safe use of digital tools by children and adolescents, improving their ability to participate in social and civic activities safely and responsibly. Every child and adolescent will have access to the devices and user support services necessary for digital learning.
According to the 2019 National media education policy, the curricula enable the systematic promotion of media literacy that covers the entirety of formal education and instruction. Media literacy is present in all different levels of education, from early childhood education to adult education.
According to Section 5a of the Act on Gender Equality (609/1986, amended by Act 1329/2014), the education provider is responsible for preparing an equality plan for each educational institution each year in cooperation with staff and students. According to Section 6, subsection 2 of the Equality Act (1325/2014), the education organizer must ensure that the educational institution has a plan for necessary measures to promote equality among all learners.
LUMA Center Finland launched the LUMA2020 programme in 2020. The programme was initiated by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and executed by the LUMA Centre Finland, a network organisation of 13 regional LUMA Centres located in 11 universities throughout the country. The programme aimed to support children’s and youth’s inspiration and learning motivation regarding STEM and to improve the quality of STEM education and learning for all ages.
The use of digital tools in pre-service teacher education is integrated into the courses and teaching practice. The 2021 Education Policy Report determined that education and teaching sector education and competence development would be developed collaboratively, systematically, and based on research evidence throughout teachers' careers. The competencies in special education pedagogy, counselling, and leadership would also be enhanced. In addition, competencies in areas like sustainable development, equality, linguistically and culturally responsive education, digitalisation, digital learning environments, and well-being are to be fostered.
Research study “DigiVOO” was launched in 2020 to examine the impact of Digitalisation on Learning Situations, Learning and Learning Outcomes in Basic Education. According to the results, the opportunities provided by technology are not fully utilized in education by the teachers, for the time being.
In 2015 the Finnish Government published five key projects aimed at developing knowledge and education. The aim of the “New comprehensive school programme” was to introduce tutor teacher practice in all 2,300 comprehensive schools in Finland to embrace new pedagogical approaches and promote the digitalisation of teaching. The Tutor teacher activities in basic education in Finland were supported with 35 million euros in 2016–2018.
The 2019 National media education policy emphasizes the development of transversal competence, multiliteracy pedagogy, and digital challenges as much as possible in the selection criteria and themes of applications for state aid for publicly funded education services on state-funded training for teachers and early childhood educators to strengthen pedagogical competencies.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 2019 Data Protection Act specifies and supplements Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and the free movement of such data. However, no mention of schools or education is found. Finlands’s digital compass aims to strengthen cyber security in the educational setting and provide training as an integral part of teaching and training provision at all educational levels. It also seeks to improve citizens' cyber skills.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The 1998 Basic Education Act (628/1998) dictates that the education provider shall draw up a plan, in connection with curriculum design, for safeguarding pupils against violence, bullying and harassment. They must also execute the plan and supervise adherence to it and its implementation. The National Agency of Education shall issue regulations in the core curriculum concerning the formulation of the plan. Security and responsibility in digital environments are parts of the Framework for Digital Competence. According to Section 13 of the Pupil and Student Welfare Act, a plan to protect students from violence, bullying and harassment must be recorded in the educational institution-specific student welfare plan.
Overall, addressing online bullying among youth requires a multi-faceted approach that involves education, legislation, parental involvement, mental health services and collaboration between different stakeholders.
In Finland, educational autonomy is high at all levels. Local governments determine the level of autonomy granted to schools. In general, schools have the right to provide educational services in accordance with their visions, so long as the statutory requirements are met. In addition to practical teaching arrangements, providers are responsible for the effectiveness and quality of education.
The Ministry of Education and Culture is responsible for the entire spectrum of education, from ECCE to tertiary level, legislation and policy.
The Finnish National Agency for Education is a development agency whose duties are laid down in Act 564/2016 and in the Government Decree 1070/2016 based on the Act. As an authority, the Finnish National Agency of Education prepares and makes decisions on the core curricula for basic education and upper secondary education; the core curriculum for early childhood education and care; and the bases for vocational and competence-based qualifications.
The Agency provides continuous information guidance to promote media education for those who provide early childhood education, preschool and basic education, upper secondary education, vocational education and liberal adult education.
The national media education authority, established in early 2012, is the only party with a statutory duty to promote media education in Finland (1434/2007). The National Audiovisual Institute is an agency that operates under the Ministry of Education and Culture. Its tasks include the preservation of films and television and radio programmes as well as research related to them, and the promotion of audio-visual culture. KAVI’s Department for Media Education and Audiovisual Media (MEKU) is responsible for the promotion and coordination of media education at a national level, and the supervision of the provision of audio-visual programmes from the perspective of protection of children.
In the development programme, the National Audiovisual Institute is responsible for the entity of media literacy and programming skills while the Finnish National Agency for Education is responsible for the entity of ICT competence.
The country’s education system is largely decentralized, meaning the school authorities enjoy significant autonomy in how they respond to learners’ needs. No national legislation on the ban or regulation of mobile devices in schools yet in place. However, new Government (since June 2023) plans to strengthen the role of teachers to regulate the use of mobile devices in schools and ban them at times when necessary.
This profile was reviewed by the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland.