How will gender equality be promoted in comprehensive schools?
The Finnish National Board of Education has published a guide about promoting gender equality in basic education. Educational institutions' equality plans that comply with the Equality Act must be drawn up in comprehensive schools by 1 January 2017. Ministerial Adviser Johanna Hautakorpi from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health talks about why a guide on gender equality in education (Tasa-arvotyö on taitolaji, available in Finnish) was prepared and how it will be visible in everyday life in schools.
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Text version of the interview
Why was a guide about promoting gender equality in basic education created?
“At the beginning of the year, gender equality planning that is included in the Equality Act was also extended to basic education. At the same time, the importance of gender equality was emphasised in the national foundation of basic education. The purpose of the guide is to instruct education organisers and schools how gender equality measures can be carried out in practice in schools.”
What will change in schools now that the guide has been published?
“The purpose is that schools would carry out measures on gender equality more systematically than before. In practice, gender equality planning means that the equality situation is surveyed in a school: for example, students are asked for their opinion on how girls and boys are treated in school and whether there is room for gender diversity. Based on the school's own survey, it will be considered what should be done better and what kinds of procedures will be carried out in the school. From time to time, there will also be an evaluation on which procedures have been implemented and what is the status of equality.”
How is the guide visible in the everyday life of a student and a teacher in school?
“Problems related to gender equality in Finnish society are also visible in schools but on the other hand, they can be solved in schools. For example, girls and boys make very different and divided educational choices, which is also visible in the labour market. There is sexual harassment also in schools. On the other hand, it is a question of whether there is room for gender diversity among children in schools. The idea behind gender equality measures is that every child would be addressed as a unique person at school and that children could use their whole potential. The purpose is also that school would be a safe learning environment with reliable adults who accept the students as they are.”
Interview and video: Kimmo Vainikainen