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The Finnish Government’s Education Policy Report and gender equality (TAS 248/2021, issued on 6 May 2021)

The Ombudsman for Equality has issued a statement on the Education Policy Report of the Finnish Government (VNS 1/2021 vp) to the Education and Culture Committee of Parliament.

The importance of the educational system to gender equality is well understood. Among other things, the 2020−2023 Equality Programme of Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s administration has set goals for promoting gender equality and non-discrimination systematically in early education and all stages of the education system.

However, gender equality is addressed rather modestly in the Education Policy Report of the Finnish Government. The Report discusses the gender segregation of different fields of education and differences in learning between the genders only at a very superficial level. Gender equality is practically ignored in the targets and measures proposed in the Report.

With regard to targets related to learning differences, for example, the Report states that differences in the competence of students should be minor by 2040. Yet the Report does not set any targets for narrowing the competence and learning gaps between the genders in basic education. 

The segregation of the labour market and fields of study is only discussed in relation to institutes of higher education. It is nevertheless clear that measures to mitigate segregation are necessary in basic education at the latest. For example, stereotyped notions of ”male” or ”female” professions begin affecting the choices made by children at a very early stage and should be addressed already in early childhood education.