Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Threat: No More Private Schools in Finland

A clash is underway within the cabinet on the future of private schools in Finland.

Two weeks ago, the Social Democratic Education Minister proposed that no more permits be issued for private schools.

It is a move which has aroused strong opposition from the Centre and the Christian Democrats.

The debate is focused on four private Christian schools which have applied for extensions for present operating permits, and all of which would have to close their doors under the proposal by the Minister of Education, Antti Kalliomäki.

In addition, it means a red light to expansion plans by two more Christian schools and for the start-up of three new private schools.

The Christian Democrats have begun a battle on behalf of the schools by circulating a petition which has already been signed by about 20 thousand people. Supporters of one private school in the town of Kerava have already delivered a formal appeal to the ministry.

In recent years, Social Democratic education ministers have often been less than enthusiastic about private schools, but permits have been forthcoming anyway. That may be changing. The cabinet can reject applications, even if a school fulfills all the legal requirements.

The schools and their supporters say that the present threat to their existence is more ideological and political than it is economic. Private schools, although they receive some state funding, cost the treasury less than do public schools.

There are close to 70 private schools in Finland. In addition to Christian schools, there are a number of non-religiously oriented schools such as Steiner and Montessori schools, as well as foreign-language schools. Of all primary education pupils in Finland, only about 2% attend private schools.

The cabinet is set to debate the issue late next week.

YLE24, Finnish News Agency

1 comment:

Cruzan said...

Just one more reason to NOT vote for SDP ever...