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Helsinki wants to be the world’s most effective place to learn. The city offers high-quality and attractive early childhood education and basic education services close to the residents. The ever-growing Helsinki requires active measures and investments to ensure open, equal and high-quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all. SDG 10 (Reduced inequalities) is also strongly linked to the theme of learning, in addition to SDG 4 (Quality education).
SDG 4: Quality education
SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

Helsinki wants to be the world’s most effective place to learn. The City offers high-quality and attractive early childhood education and basic education services close to the residents. The ever-growing Helsinki requires active measures and investments to ensure open, equal and high-quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all. Therefore, learning as a theme is also strongly linked to SDG 10 (Reduced inequalities) and SDG 5 (Gender equality) in addition to SDG 4 (Quality education).

Helsinki promotes equality in education in all of its neighbourhoods. The aim is to ensure a smooth path from early childhood education to upper secondary education. The availability of qualified staff is essential to ensure the equal quality of education. In order to reduce inequality, needs-based funding is allocated to daycare centres and schools operating in more challenging areas. In Helsinki, the wellbeing and learning of children and young people is supported not only by teaching staff but also by school coaches, multilingual instructors and KouluPT counsellors, who offer a low-threshold exercise counselling service.

In teaching, the aim is that pupils receive the necessary support in their local school and study with other pupils in their neighbourhood. The City offers educational opportunities for all young people in Helsinki and vocational skills for the needs of working life. The entire city is used as a learning environment. Daycare groups and school classes make study trips to art, culture, working life and experience destinations. The City offers free public transport for the groups.

Equality and non-discrimination is a central theme in the organisation of early childhood education and teaching. The obligation to implement unit-specific operational equality and non-discrimination planning will be extended nationally to include early childhood education. In Helsinki, unit-specific planning is already being carried out in early childhood education. In addition to this, e.g. in the second round of Helsinki’s participatory budgeting OmaStadi, people voted for the organisation of LGBTQ+ workshops for 6th–9th graders in every school in Helsinki. The workshops will be carried out in 2023 with Seta ry, focusing on diversity and everyone’s right to be themselves.

Sustainable development has been taken into account throughout the City of Helsinki’s early childhood education plans and curricula in accordance with the mainstreaming principle. In the Education Division, a sustainable future learning path was developed during the school year 2020–2021. It enables learners of all ages to interact with sustainable development themes in their daycare and school life and upper secondary studies. The learning path is based on the value base of eco-social education and innovative or transformative learning. SDG 4, Quality education, is one of the goals that is already achieved quite well in Helsinki.

The learning path starts with early childhood education, which introduces a sustainable lifestyle with the help of seven foxes. The KETTU (FOX) model combines climate and environmental education, future literacy and creative learning. For example, the nature relationship is strengthened with the Outdoor Fox, different futures are created with the Artist Fox, and circular economy is studied with the Inventor Fox. The model was developed together with children, because growing into participation and influence is a key starting point for learners of all ages. In basic education, ‘Future Mornings’ have been developed together with the pupils, and staff are trained in their implementation.

The learning path continues in both general upper secondary school and vocational education. In cooperation with the staff and students of general upper secondary schools, a cross-curricular climate course was developed under the name Carbon-neutral Helsinki. The name of the course comes from the Carbon Neutral Helsinki 2030 Action Plan. The course became compulsory for all first-year general upper secondary school students in August 2021.

Helsinki Vocational College has launched the Professionals of a Sustainable Future programme, which examines and tests how sustainable development can be strengthened in all study programmes. The vocational college offers training for more than 50 different professions. For example, those graduating as restaurant professionals can influence the carbon and water footprint of thousands of people when designing menus, and construction professionals can promote sustainable and energy-efficient solutions.

In addition to teaching, sustainable development is also promoted in the other activities of daycare centres, schools and educational institutions. In all units of the Education Division, eco-supporters have been appointed who, in addition to their other duties, promote environmentally sustainable practices and raise environmental awareness. School lunch menus have reduced dishes containing red meat and increased the amount of vegetables. A joint ‘Responsible Food Group’ has been established with food service providers to develop responsible food solutions. Environmental criteria are always taken into account in the design and construction of new daycare centre and school buildings.

In addition to basic and upper secondary education, the City offers diverse learning opportunities for learners of all ages through adult education centres and libraries, for example. The City also organises environmental education activities. The nature centres and nature schools of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area organise courses for teachers, daycare personnel, educators and residents. Harakka Island in Helsinki, in front of Kaivopuisto, and the nature school there provide a wonderful setting for education on nature and the Baltic Sea to support educators.


  • Through the KETTU model, 1,100 early childhood education professionals participated in sustainable development training in 2022. More than 25,000 Helsinki children participated in the KETTU activities in 2022.
  • The participation rate in early childhood education was 82.2% in 2022. The participation rate increased by two percentage points in 2020–2022. The participation rate increased in children under the age of 3.
  • The early childhood education participation rate of foreign-language speakers was 77.3% in 2022. The participation rate increased by four percentage points in 2020–2022.
  • Early childhood education has introduced a fixed-term regional equality supplement for the remuneration of staff in daycare centres located in areas with challenging operating environments. The aim is to prevent regional inequalities in early childhood education and strengthen daycare staff attraction and retention.
  • The model and indicators for the needs-based funding of early childhood and basic education have been updated. In the new model, the needs-based funding is better targeted at the units that need support.

Areas for development:

  • There are challenges related to staff availability, especially in early childhood education.
  • Mental health problems among young people have increased; poor social wellbeing is reflected, for example, in an increased number of clients in student welfare services.