Basic education

Alakoululaisia. KUVA: Liisa Takala / OKMBasic education provides a general education and general knowledge and is typically given in comprehensive schools. A pupil is not awarded a degree when graduating from comprehensive school, but it does provide them with the qualifications to apply for post-comprehensive compulsory education, such as vocational education or upper secondary school. Completing the basic education syllabus is part of completing compulsory education.  

Basic education comprises 9 years of comprehensive school free of charge. Teaching is organised in a local school or another suitable location, ensuring that school journeys are as safe and short as possible. Pupils have the right to receive sufficient support to assist in learning and in school attendance as soon as the need for support is detected. Teaching staff must work in cooperation with the home. 

Basic education may include a voluntary extra year of additional basic education studies (year 10). In the future, it will be replaced by a single set of preparatory education at transition points leading to an upper secondary qualification (TUVA), which combines year 10 studies, preparatory education for general upper secondary education (LUVA), and preparatory education and training for vocational education and training (VALMA). Preparatory education for programmes leading to an upper secondary qualification will be organised from 1 August 2022.

Local authorities and the State are responsible for organising basic education. The State contributes towards the costs related to basic education by means of central government transfers to education providers as provided in the Act on Central Government Transfers to Local Government for Basic Public Services. Regional State Administrative Agencies provide guidance on matters related to the legal protection of pupils.

The Ministry of Education and Culture drafts legislation that applies to education and the budget proposals and Government resolutions related to this legislation.

Arrangements and organisation of teaching

Teaching and teaching equipment are available to pupils free of charge. Additionally, pupils are provided a warm meal every day at school.

Pupils have the right to free transport or to a sufficient subsidy to help cover the costs of transport to school, if the journey is over five kilometres in distance or if the route is too difficult, stressful or dangerous for pupils to travel on their own. The local authority or other education provider can also choose to offer a broader right to transport than that which is required by law.

There are no statutory maximum limits to the number of pupils in each group in general education. However, the maximum number of pupils permitted in special needs teaching groups is laid down in legislation. The school year comprises 190 school days. The education provider makes decisions on the duration and timing of holidays. The school year for basic education begins on 1 August and ends on 31 July. The school year is divided into two parts: the autumn term and the spring term. School work for the school year ends on the last working day of the last week of May or first week of June. Any other decisions on holiday times are made by the education provider. Regional State Administrative Agencies gather information on their region's school workdays and school holidays.

Basic education is part of completing compulsory education  

Every child permanently residing in Finland must attend compulsory education. The guardian of a child, who must attend school, is responsible for ensuring the child completes compulsory education.

Compulsory education begins in the year during which a child turns seven and ends when they reach the age of 18 or when they complete an upper secondary qualification before the age of 18 (a matriculation examination or a vocational qualification) or when an equivalent qualification is gained abroad. 

If due to a child’s disability or illness they are unable to complete the objectives for basic education within the allocated nine years, the child may fall within the scope of special needs education, which is extended. Special needs basic education begins in the year during which a child turns six and completing basic education lasts for 11 years.

Teachers and qualifications

Class teachers normally teach years 1 to 6. Years 7 to 9 involves mainly subject-specific teaching, which is provided by subject teachers. As a rule, teachers have completed a Master's degree at a university.

Contact information

Heli Nederström, opetusneuvos 
Ministry of Education and Culture, Varhaiskasvatuksen, perusopetuksen ja vapaan sivistystyön osasto ( VAPOS ), Koulutuksen ja kasvatuksen vastuualue 0295330122