Immigrant support / Non-native speakers

An increasing number of schools are linguistically and culturally diverse. There are about 750 pupils in basic education with immigrant background in Joensuu. About one third of them speaks Russian as mother tongue, ca. 50 Arabic and ca. 15 Bengal and English. In addition, almost 20 more languages are spoken. Our schools also have teachers and staff that speak many languages. Cultural diversity is seen through the interaction of different identities, religions, world views, and languages.

Separate teaching for different language and cultural groups are organized according to the needs of the pupils and students. These include: 

  • preparatory teaching for basic education
  • Finnish as a second language -teaching
  • teaching of one’s native or second language
  • religion and ethics education
  • voluntary additional basic education (10th grade)
  • basic education for adults.

In addition, pupils and students are entitled to assistance and support for other educational needs.

Collaboration between the school and the children’s guardians is central to children’s integration and good learning. The guardians should familiarize with the Finnish schooling system so that they can support their child at school. Joensuu’s own collaboration model is a family school, which eases the whole family’s integration in their new home and school system. 

Schools in Joensuu emphasize respect for cultural diversity and a shared school experience for everyone. Schools aim to support the growth of school community and to encourage the sharing of experiences between pupils.

More about school-home collaboration and family school

Preparatory teaching for basic education

Preparatory education is intended for 6–17-year-old children who do not yet speak Finnish well enough to begin their basic education. In preparatory education, main focus is on learning Finnish and becoming familiar with the Finnish school system. An individual education plan is created for every pupil. Preparatory education usually takes one year. Thereafter, or even before if the aims are met earlier, pupils move to basic education. 

In Joensuu, preparatory teaching can be in a separate group or given inclusively at own local school. In inclusive studies a pupil is with his or her own age group in the basic teaching and receives additional individual Finnish language teaching. 

More about preparatory teaching in Joensuu

Finnish as a second language

Pupils may choose the syllabus Finnish as a second language and literature (S2) if their mother tongue is a language other than Finnish or they have a multilingual background. The studies are based on the pupil’s learning needs and the stage of language learning. The choice of syllabus is made by the parents based on the teachers’ recommendation. 

Mother tongue or second language teaching

Studies have shown that multilingualism is beneficial to a child’s performance in school. Therefore, it is important that pupils whose mother tongue is a language other than Finnish study also their mother tongue. Studying one’s own mother tongue also supports the learning of Finnish.  At best, the pupil receives support in multilingualism and achieves a high level of proficiency in both Finnish and the mother tongue. 

The choice of languages offered in Joensuu varies. In 2020–2021 teaching is provided in Russian, Arabic, English, German, Bengali, Somali and Dutch. The minimum group size is four persons and the duration of the teaching two hours a week. Teaching is typically arranged before or after a regular school day. 

More about mother tongue teaching in Joensuu

Religion and ethics education

Basic school curriculum includes studies in religion or ethics. These subjects are taught in accordance with the national core curriculum. The teaching is politically neutral and religiously non-denominational. The purpose of religious education is to provide a pupil with a broad general knowledge of religion and beliefs. In addition to studying their own religion, pupils learn about different religions and beliefs in the world. The studies are not religious practice. 
The purpose of ethics studies is to develop the pupils’ capacity to grow into independent, tolerant, responsible and discerning members of their community. Studies include skills in critical thinking and activity. The objective is full democratic citizenship in a globalising and rapidly changing world. 

In accordance with the Basic Education Act, each pupil is directed to study ethics or their own religion. Members of an Evangelical Lutheran community always participate in the teaching of their religion. Members of an Orthodox community either participate in Orthodox studies or study with the majority. In Joensuu, studies of the pupil’s own religion are also offered to members of some other religious communities. Guardians may request these studies. Pupils who are not members of any religious community normally study ethics.

Voluntary additional basic education (10th grade)

Voluntary additional basic education is aimed at young people, who wish to improve their skills for future studies. The aim is that after an additional year of basic school a pupil will have plan for upper secondary school or vocational education and the abilities to pursue the studies. 

Each pupil will receive an individual study plan. It is possible to study or improve the skills in the following topics: mother tongue, mathematics, Swedish, English, history, civics, biology, geography, health education, physics, chemistry as well as religion or ethics. Furthermore, leaning skills and abilities to search for information are improved. 

The education and related materials are free of charge. A school day includes a free lunch. School transport may be free of charge under certain conditions. 

Basic education for adults

Basic education for adults is available through a full curriculum or partial studies to complement or improve previous education. Some prerequisites for admittance of a person are:

  • person is or will be at least 17 years old by the end of the year; 
  • have not completed basic education either in Finland or in home country; 
  • language skills are not at the level to continue the studies in Finland;
  • some parts of basic education are missing or 
  • want to improve the grades on the basic education certificate or
  • want to study certain subjects of basic school curriculum, e.g. Finnish, English or mathematics. 

Completing the full basic education curriculum takes on average 2-4 years. All applicants participate in a test, which evaluates Finnish, English and mathematics skills.

Introductory phase takes 1,5-2 years and includes Finnish language skills. In addition, the syllabus of 1st to 6th grades is studied. After the exams one can pass to final phase (2 years) where the Finnish language skills are improved further and the syllabus of 7th to 9th grades is studied. 

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