Citizen’s Initiative – SUMMARY

Introducing common ethical and religious education to pupils in basic education

Proposal for starting a bill drafting process

Date of registration: 13th August 2015

 

Main objectives

It is time for religious and ethical education in Finland to be reformed. All pupils in primary school should be given a uniform ethical and religious education, in place of the sectarian and fragmented system currently in place. The current system emphasizes differences between pupils. It reinforces the notion that religion is a divisive force in society. A community based approach in which all pupils participate, on the other hand, would de-emphasize such differences and allow the entire class to participate together in discussions about ethics and religion. Therefore, we are proposing that the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture start preparing the necessary changes to the Basic Education Act in order to introduce uniform ethical and religious education to primary school pupils.

Reasons for the proposal

It is not the school's role to foster personal faith. That responsibility is best performed by the parents. What the school can provide is a broadening experience whereby the differences between religions and, even more importantly, their similarities can be made available for pupils to digest in a wholesome, inclusive setting. This includes the relationship between the moral and ethical values of organized religion and those available in a secular environment. Teaching citizenship, civil rights and moral responsibilities together can only be viewed as a social good.

Furthermore, the current model can result in unfair treatment. Pupils have little choice in the format of their ethical or religious education. Pupils of minority religions might end up with unnecessary free time, longer school days, or the requirement to travel to a different school solely for this instruction.

Uniform ethical and religious education would replace the subjects of Religious Education and of Ethics. It would be a completely new subject, offering basic elements from the existing curriculae, as well as the main characteristics of different religions and ideologies. During the transition period, the uniform ethical and religious studies would be taught by class teachers as well as teachers specializing in these subjects. The Finnish National Board of Education would prepare the basic curriculum for this new subject.

Currently, Finland is the only Nordic Country with semi-confessional religious education in primary schools. Uniform religious and ethical education has already been introduced in some Finnish schools. The trend towards non-confessional religious education is clear and the need for our proposed changes is undeniable.

 

Financial support for the initiative: This initiative does not receive any financial support.

Collection of statements of support:

  • Online at Kansalaisaloite.fi
  • Paper forms

Useful links

Campaign pages: katsomusaloite.fi

Campaign Facebook page: Katsomusaloite

 

CITIZENS’ COMMITTEE

Initiators: Ritva Hujanen, Eeva Suhonen, Teemu Salo, Anu Aarnio, Kaisa Robbins

Representative: Ritva Hujanen

Substitute Representatives: Eeva Suhonen, Teemu Salo