A diverse group representing employees, educational institutions and training providers highlights the multifaceted effects of the proposed cuts.
Threat to employment and skills development
Reducing funding for adult education would prevent the future government from achieving its employment goals. Adult education institutions, such as folk colleges, municipal colleges, study centers and summer universities, offer vocational training and teach skills needed in everyday life and working life, such as information technology and foreign languages. These institutions contribute to employability and the skills of the workforce.
When talking about employment effects, the effects on adult education jobs cannot be ignored. For example, a cut of 70 million euros would potentially lead to the closure of more than 130 smaller educational institutions.
An obstacle to educational advancement
If implemented, the proposed budget cuts would also complicate efforts to raise the education level of the population, as many summer universities would probably have to close down. This would significantly weaken the regional accessibility of higher education.
Adult education plays a key role as an accessible path to university degrees and professional qualifications. For example, summer universities offer approximately 65,000 credit points of higher education each year, which contributes to a total of approximately 100,000 credit points earned annually in adult education institutions.
The impact on education infrastructure would affect small communities the most
Closing educational institutions would especially affect small municipalities, where there are already hobby and educational opportunities compared to larger cities. This would further promote marginalization and increase regional differences throughout Finland. Thus, the fulfillment of the citizens’ educational rights guaranteed by the Finnish constitution would be jeopardized.
Maintaining an agile educational institution network around Finland is important. For example, in the aftermath of the Russian invasion, Ukrainian refugees quickly and flexibly got access to integration-oriented education through adult education institutions.
Preserve the conditions for lifelong learning, don’t destroy them
If implemented, these proposed budget cuts would seriously undermine access to lifelong and accessible learning for the entire population. Studies have shown that adult education helps maintain functional abilities, mental well-being and prevents alienation and depression. Each euro invested in adult education is estimated to generate a social return of more than five euros. This return is due to reduced social and health care costs as well as increased employment and self-improvement motivation.
The future government must secure the operating conditions of the entire adult education network and not dismantle it.
As the negotiations continue, it is necessary to prioritize education as a basic pillar of social progress and ensure equal learning opportunities for all. The value of lifelong learning and its positive impact on individuals and society as a whole should guide decision-making in order to build a prosperous and inclusive future for Finland.
Source: The Nordic Page