In spring 2009, the Finnish Cultural Foundation commissioned an enquiry into the present state of language teaching for immigrants. The report revealed several obstacles faced by immigrants in trying to learn Finnish or Swedish, Finland’s two official languages.

In particular, the language training should make allowance for immigrants’ diverse needs and backgrounds. It should also distinguish between those seeking immediate employment and those such as mothers with small children expected to remain outside the work force for some time.

The Foundation then commissioned a plan for the improvement of integration training. This was implemented in a large pilot project covering the entire country, from the Helsinki region up to Lapland in the north. The aim of the project, known as Osallisena Suomessa (Participative Integration), was to provide a basis for remodelling all integration education in Finland from 2013 onwards.

The partners in this project were the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland, and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities. The costs of the project were around €9 million. The two foundations provided about half the funding.

The Foundation also supports NGOs working with immigrant integration. The most important project has been Luetaan yhdessä (Let’s Read Together). A network of Finnish women volunteers offers tuition in literacy and Finnish to immigrant women in locations all over Finland. The Finnish Federation of University Women is responsible for the network in partnership with Zonta International District 20 and UN Women Finland.

Further information:
From outsider to insider (pdf)
(Annual report 2010)

Integration through targeted tuition (pdf)
(Annual report 2011)