Religious education

In Finland, all children receive instruction in their own faith; those of no faith are instructed in life skills. Religious education aims to give children and youth the knowledge, skills and experiences to build their own identity and world view.

Small children sit on mattresses in the church and follow the teaching in the afternoon club.

The Finnish Freedom of Religion Act of 2003 abandoned the idea of confessional religious instruction. When the law was being drafted, it was found that the change in wording changed neither the goals nor the content of religious education.

Evangelical Lutheranism and Orthodoxy are the most commonly taught religious traditions in Finland. Primary school curricula have been designed for eleven other traditions, including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Catholicism; secondary schools have eight religious curricula. There are now as many pupils being instructed in Islam as in Orthodoxy.

The law does not link religious instruction with religious practice. Schools may organise religious services, but these do not fall within the remit of religious education.

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