Right to basic education

Illustation: Warda Ahmed

Illustation: Warda Ahmed

Every child has the right to basic education

The right to basic education is a fundamental right that belongs to every child. It is guaranteed in the Finnish constitution, in human rights agreements that oblige Finland, as well as the Revised European Social Charter.

The Basic Education Act states that every school age child has the right to attend school. It is the duty of municipalities to arrange basic education to every child in their jurisdiction. The parliamentary deputy ombudsman made a statement on the interpretation of the Basic Education Act in December 2013: “the municipal duty of arranging basic education is extensive. The Basic Education Act does not require the child to be a permanent resident in the municipality or that the municipality should be the home municipality of the child in the way that is stipulated by the Municipality of Residence Act.” This statement explicitly enforces the notion that the right to basic education includes undocumented children.

 Teachers are bound by the duty of confidentiality

School staff are bound by the duty of confidentiality. No teacher or other member of school staff is allowed to communicate any information pertaining to an undocumented child’s residence permit situation to the police or other outside authorities. There are only certain situations in which the law allows this duty to be broken.

School staff do have the duty to file a child welfare report if, in the course of their work, they discover that there is a child for whom it is necessary to investigate the need for child welfare on account of the child’s need for care, circumstances endangering the child’s development, or the child’s behaviour.