The Education System in Finland (1997) – (EURYDICE EURYBASE 1998)

2.5.3. General Administration at Local Level

Local administration is managed by municipalities which are self-governing and have the right to levy taxes. There are 450 municipalities in Finland. The municipal power of decision is vested in the municipal council, which is elected by general elections. In order to organise administration, the municipal council adopts the necessary regulations stipulating the various municipal authorities and their functions, division of authority, and duties.

In addition to the municipal council, the municipal bodies include the municipal executive board, several specialised boards and management boards, and their divisions and committees.

For the administration of educational services, the municipality has at least one body consisting of several members. In a bilingual municipality, there is a body of several members for each language group, or one joint body divided into sections. The members of the bodies and sections shall be appointed from among the language group concerned.

Municipalities are responsible for organising, and partly also for financing, basic education (see [2.14.] . The task of the municipalities is to offer all children of school age – also children with mental or physical impairments – an opportunity to learn according to their abilities. Almost all schools providing basic education and most general upper secondary schools are maintained by the municipality.

In addition to organising instruction, the municipality is responsible for the welfare of Comprehensive school Peruskoulu pupils. The municipality must organise transportation for pupils if needed. The welfare also includes school meals, school health care, dental care as well as the services of school welfare officers and psychologists.

Municipalities are not obliged to organise vocational education, but they do have the obligation to participate in financing it. Vocational institutions are maintained by municipalities, federations of municipalities, the state and private associations. The trend, however, is to municipalise and privatise state institutions, and in practice, municipalities also maintain the majority of vocational institutions.

It is the statutory obligation of municipalities to organise Apprenticeship training Oppisopimuskoulutus and supervise its implementation. Apprenticeship training is supervised by a regional inspector hired by the municipality (or several municipalities jointly); s/he is responsible for organising the contracts between students and employers as well as for other practical measures. Both adults and young people can conclude an apprenticeship contract. Organising other adult education activities depends on the municipalities’ own initiative.

According to the Municipal Administration Act, municipals can obtain the services required to fulfil their duties in the following ways:

  • by producing the services themselves
  • by joining a federation of municipalities, which produces the services
  • by entering into partnership in a company or other private corporation which produces the services
  • by acquiring the services from some other public corporation
  • by acquiring the services from a private producer of services.

However, all the above-mentioned methods are not possible with respect to statutory educational services; for example, the municipality cannot buy comprehensive school Peruskoulu services from a private producer of services. On the other hand, for example, service, cleaning and other maintenance services can be acquired using these methods.