© The Guardian / Pertti Nisonen
© The Guardian / Pertti Nisonen

Finland: teacher union would like all five-year-olds to participate in pre-primary education

published 24 August 2018 updated 24 August 2018

The Finnish education union Opetusalan Ammattijärjestö proposes that the scope of pre-primary education be expanded by a year to include five-year-old children.

“The society is increasingly aware of the significance of high quality early childhood education for children’s educational journey. OAJ’s next objective is to have all five-year-olds participate in pre-primary education and have the change laid out in the next government programme,” OAJ President Olli Luukkainen explained.

Two years of pre-primary education

He therefore stressed that all children should take part in pre-primary education for two years instead of one before starting compulsory basic education.

In an interview with the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat on 2 August, Finnish Education Minister Sanni Grahn-Laasonen also underlined that “the National Coalition believes, based on research findings, that the most effective approach is to invest in the early years. If compulsory education is expanded, it should be done from the beginning.”

She went on to point out that studies show that early childhood education is “an effective way to support the later learning and development of children,” making it possible to detect and assist with learning difficulties at an earlier stage.


In Finland, roughly a fifth of five-year-old children are currently not participating in early-childhood education. The national basic education act stipulates that compulsory basic education starts in the year when a child turns seven, and that the child must have participated in pre-primary education during the year preceding the start of basic education.