Religious Education in Finland
AbstractIn recent decades, the Finnish state has developed multicultural policies that aim at fostering the cultural identity of people coming to Finland from different ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. This aim has had clear practical consequences in the Finnish state-supported schools, where, along with the Finnish and Swedish languages, pupils with different linguistic backgrounds now have the right to learn their native tongue within the frame of the school curriculum. In similar fashion, the state favours a multiple solution as regards religious education, so that pupils belonging to different religious communities have the right to “education in accordance with their own religion”. In addition, Ethics is taught to those pupils who are not members of any religious community. Consequently, several religions are today taught in Finnish schools, as well as secular Ethics. Nevertheless, the current system of religious education in Finland is ridden with contradictions. This article first offers an overview of the most recent developments, legal provisions and contents of religious education in state-supported schools in Finland. Next, it identifies some of the sore issues in the current system, and, finally, it reflects on the possible role of the Study of Religions in the field of religious education.
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