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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

Sustainable development in curricula

The aim of the teaching 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.

In learning, we utilise the entire city as a learning environment. Day-care groups and classes make study trips to art, culture, working life and experience destinations. The city offers free public transport for the groups.

Sustainable development has been taken into account throughout the City of Helsinki’s early childhood education plans and curricula. In the Education Division, a sustainable future learning path was developed in 2020. It enables learners of all ages to interact with sustainable development themes in their day-care 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.

Fox characters guiding towards a sustainable lifestyle

The learning path starts with early childhood education, which introduces a sustainable lifestyle with the help of a fox family. The KETTU (FOX) model combines climate and environmental education, future literacy and creative learning. For example, the nature relationship will be strengthened with the Outdoor Fox, different futures will be created with the Artist Fox, and circular economy will be 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. The KETTU model is also used as an applied version in grades 1–6 of basic education.

The sustainable future learning path continues in secondary school, where sustainable development is studied in lessons of different subjects and across subject borders. To support phenomenon-based learning, the KIERRE model for future skills from circular economy has been developed, combining natural resource awareness, climate understanding, design education and creative learning.

The learning path continues in both upper secondary school and vocational education. In cooperation with the staff and students of upper secondary schools, a cross-curricular climate course was developed under the name Carbon-neutral Helsinki. The title of the course comes from the Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 Action Plan. The course will be compulsory for all first-year upper secondary school students starting from August 2021.

Helsinki Vocational College has launched the “Professionals of a Sustainable Future” programme, which examines 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.

Helsinki learns
– insightful learning in Helsinki

Welcome to get acquainted with the learning and pedagogical development at the City of Helsinki Education Division.

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Culture of reading and future working life skills

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.

Sustainable development is promoted not only in education but also in other activities of day-care centres, schools and educational institutions. From 1 August 2020, meals containing red meat were reduced from the school menus, an oat milk experiment was conducted during the school year and an extensive recycling survey was carried out on the premises of both day-care centres and schools. Environmental criteria are always taken into account in the design and construction of new day-care centre and school buildings.

Sustainable development was also promoted through a wide range of projects. The Joy of Reading (Lukuinto) project strengthened the culture of reading, Know Work 2.0 (Tunne Työ 2.0) supported pupils’ future working life skills and the Project for Youth Social Inclusion (Mukana) promoted the participation and well-being of children and young people.

In addition to basic and 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, day-care personnel, educators and residents. The Harakka Island in Helsinki, in front of Kaivopuisto, and the nature school there provide a wonderful setting for nature education and Baltic Sea education to support educators.


  • The early childhood education participation rate grew by 3% between 2017 and 2020.
  • The number of first-graders choosing their local school grew by 6% between 2017 and 2020.
  • The availability of special support for pupils in local schools has increased during the strategy period.
  • The sustainable future learning path has been developed and launched.
  • The overall customer satisfaction rate is 5.6 (scale 1–7).

Development targets

  • The number of dropouts in vocational education organised by the City itself increased by four percent from 2019 to 2020. This requires systematic and long-term investment and close cooperation with different operators.
  • COVID-19 has increased learning deficiencies and undermined well-being among children and young people.
  • Mental health problems among young people have increased; poor social well-being is reflected, for example, in an increased number of clients in student welfare services.
  • The KETTU and KIERRE models must be made an integral part of activities in day-care centres and schools.