The school year of education and teaching in Turku will start as contact teaching in a health secure way. Early childhood education fees have been lowered, and the trial of two-year pre-primary education begins. First steps have also been taken toward free upper secondary education as compulsory education extends to 18 years.

Photo: Jaska Poikonen

The coronavirus situation in Turku is simultaneously both good and bad: vaccinations are progressing well, and a positive decision on vaccinations for children in upper secondary school will likely be made in a couple of weeks, in which case school health care can also administer vaccinations.

– We are starting the 149th school year in a health secure way with new lessons learned from the pandemic. Schools will maintain the same safety measures as in the spring: using masks, maintaining safe distances and washing hands. The mask recommendation still applies to all pupils and students in grade 4 and up”, explains Timo Jalonen, Director of Education and Teaching. 

Early childhood education fees have been lowered and a trial for two-year pre-primary education begins

Customer fees for early childhood education and care were lowered on 1 August 2021 by raising the income limit determining the fees by 31%. Decisions on changed fees will be made for families during August, and the first invoices will be sent in mid-September. 

In August 2021, the Ministry of Education and Culture also launched a trial on two-year pre-primary education. The trial will last until the end of May 2024, and an estimated 10,000 children born in 2016 or 2017 will participate in it. In Turku, approximately 370 children attending 22 day care centres are included in the trial.

For the children taking part in the trial, two-year pre-primary education will be compulsory in the same way as single-year pre-primary education. The child’s guardian must ensure that the child participates in pre-primary education organised at the trial day care centre for two years. The child’s participation in the trial is based on consent, says Vesa Kulmala, Service Area Director of Early Childhood Education. 

Longer compulsory education and free upper secondary studies

Longer compulsory education and free upper secondary studies entered into force on 1 August 2021. Students who finished their comprehensive education in the spring and applied in the joint application are the first to receive free upper secondary education and fall under the scope of compulsory education extended to 18 years of age.

– The implementation of compulsory education is progressing well. Institutions are now accepting so-called post-applications, and from the end of August, we’ll be focusing on drop-outs and lowering that number. The main acquisitions related to making upper secondary education free were already made in the spring. Upper secondary schools in Turku and the Turku Vocational Institute have a good foundation to start implementing this change. For this school year, the total costs seemed to end at EUR 1.1 million, Jalonen explains.

New premises and temporary facilities

Daghemmet Port Arthur (Sofiankatu 7), finished in summer 2021, will replace the day care facilities at Koulukatu 10 as well as having room for two other groups. Tommilankatu day care (Tommilankatu 24) will be finished by the end of 2021 and it will be replacing the Niitunniskantie day care centre facilities. 

While new facilities are being built for the Kuraattorinpolku day care centre (Cygnaeus daghem och förskola), the day care will temporarily be operating at a newly finished building at Gregorius IX:n tie 12, located at the Halinen shopping and business centre. The temporary day care facilities at Akselintie will be first used by Talinkorventie day care, and Pernontie day care will be temporarily operating out of a modular space being finished at Pansion Kisapuisto (Pernontie 16). During the renovation and new construction of the Sirkkala school and pre-primary education facilities, newly renovated facilities previously used by the Turku Adult Education Centre will serve as an alternative.

The Nummi unit of Nummenpakka school will temporarily be using modular facilities at Kirkkotie 31 (from 11 August) and Paavinkatu 13 (from 27 August).

Luolavuori middle school will be temporarily in a modular facility in the courtyard of Ruiskatu 8. The Syreenikuja unit of Vasaramäki school will be temporarily in a modular facility in the Vasaramäki park area at Puolukkatie 11.

Changes and obligations brought about by new legislation and the social welfare and health care reform

Free upper secondary education and extended compulsory education will be implemented in stages in 2021–2023. Institutions are currently accepting additional applications and filling in empty student positions. There are more spots for students in the Turku region than applicants, so the situation is good in principle.

– The cost impact of lowering early childhood education fees will be revealed at the beginning of October. Pre-primary education for 5-year-olds is on its way and student welfare services are being transferred to counties: the drafted laws are being processed for statements until the end of August. A statement has been issued on increasing the amount of student welfare services, and changes in legislation with additional funding are expected in 2021–2022, or until the services are transferred to counties, Jalonen explains. 

School social welfare services will be transferred to social and health services as early as 2022. In the future, counties will be responsible for child health clinic services, pupil and student health care services and school social welfare and psychologist services. The services will be provided in educational institutions close to the pupils and students as they have been so far.

Administrative and personnel changes

With the city’s organisational change, the Education Division will become Education and teaching services. The old committee will still meet on Wednesday 18 August 2021.

– The role of Deputy Mayor of Education and Teaching has been agreed to go to the Social Democrats. The proposal on the naming will be available on Thursday 5 August. The objective is that the new committee will meet on 1 September 2021, says Jalonen.

Jussi Paavola has started as the Service Area Director of General Upper Secondary Education on 1 August 2021. In total, there are over a hundred personnel changes in the entire service entity.