COVID-19 epidemic measures and preparing for it in the administrative branch of the Ministry of Education and Culture

The measures taken by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the agencies, institutions and other bodies in its administrative branch seek to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to alleviate the harm caused by it. The Ministry is closely monitoring the situation in cooperation with other authorities.

The Ministry of Education and Culture implements the policies and decisions taken by the Government and prepares the statutes necessary under its remit, for example. The Ministry collects information on the situation and monitors the impact of the epidemic in its area of responsibility and in the services used by people. The Ministry aims to support the recovery from the crisis by awarding grants, for example.

Under the Communicable Diseases Act, the Regional State Administrative Agencies have the power to close schools and educational institutions and to impose restrictions on assembly, for example.

Under the current exceptional arrangements caused by the COVID-19 situation, the Finnish National Agency for Education advises and produces support material for education and training providers as well as schools and educational institutions.

Local authorities and joint municipal authorities are responsible for educational and cultural services and are obliged to make provision for ensuring that, even in exceptional circumstances, they are able to ensure the best possible execution of their duties. Higher education institutions are responsible for the safety and security of their own activities, taking into account existing statutes and decisions.

Many organisations and individuals in society have also wanted to help and support others in people’s everyday arrangements and to make their own expertise available. This work will be promoted by means of the ‘Finland forward’ campaign.

What we have done so far

  • To prevent the spread of the epidemic, we mainly switched to distance learning. Contact teaching was available to a limited extent.
  • Contact teaching in early childhood education and care and in primary and lower secondary education resumed on Thursday 14 May. For general upper secondary schools, vocational education and training institutes, universities and universities of applied sciences, as well as for educational institutions that provide liberal education and basic adult education, the Government recommends that distance learning be continued until the end of term.
  • We recommend that children in early childhood education and care stay at home, if possible.
  • The schedule for the tests of the matriculation examination was condensed so that the tests could be completed before the epidemic accelerated.
  • Student admissions will carried out in a different way than usual. No entrance examinations will be held.
  • Museums, theatres, libraries and other cultural institutions were closed to prevent the spread of the epidemic.
  • Swimming pools and other sports facilities, youth clubs, the facilities of organisations and communities, and so on, were closed in order to prevent the spread of the epidemic.
  • Parents who are absent from work without pay because they are staying at home with children under the age of 10 could apply for temporary support.

What we are preparing for in the future

  • Matriculation examination tests can be retaken free of charge in autumn 2020
  • The exceptional circumstances caused by the coronavirus will be taken into account in the maximum time limits applicable to student financial aid and progress in studies
  • More than EUR 60 million will be allocated to those involved in culture, sport and youth work, as these sectors have been badly affected by the coronavirus crisis.
  • Government funding for businesses will be strengthened due to COVID-19, including those operating in the creative industries
  • A grant of EUR 1.5 million from foundations, the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Arts Promotion Centre will be distributed as a matter of urgency to professionals in arts and culture suffering as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic.
  • The exceptional operating conditions will be taken into account in the case of discretionary government grants that have already been awarded and central government transfers for cultural institutions.
  • The Academy of Finland is offering a special funding opportunity of EUR 8.45 to support and accelerate research into the COVID-19 epidemic and the mitigation of its effects and to support the utilisation of the research in society. 
  • The third supplementary budget proposal for 2020 will include an appropriation for an action plan that will take into account the effects of the coronavirus epidemic on the learning outcomes, wellbeing and equality of children and young people.

On the mandate of the Ministry of Education and Culture, a group of researchers from different fields also formulated measures to dampen the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The Ministry is using the researchers’ views in preparing measures for coping with the coronavirus situation in its own sector and across joint Government preparations.