|Children and young people||Graphical version|
Schools have begun to create new types of activities for student associations. The task of a student association is to ensure that the voice of pupils and students is heard in the decision-making of educational institutions.
Under the Comprehensive Schools Act, comprehensive schools providing education to 13- to 16-year-olds must have a student association. General upper secondary schools and vocational schools must also have one. Every pupil and student is a member of the association.
Tasks of student associations include to plan and promote student cooperation and schoolwork. Student associations also propose student members and their deputies for appointment to general upper secondary school boards.
It is up to pupils and students themselves to decide on the association’s other activities and roles. For most associations maintaining the pleasantness of the school is a welcome challenge.
The main task of municipal youth councils is to provide a channel for young people’s perspectives, wishes and initiatives in local government. Around 50 Finnish municipalities have a youth council. Members of youth councils are selected in elections, with the age limit of those entitled to vote varying from one municipality to another. In most cases local residents aged 13 to 20 have the vote.
The status of these councils also varies. They do not have any actual decision-making power in municipal issues. Some municipalities allow youth councillors access to and the right to speak in organs such as the leisure committee.
The youth council may also have the right to submit initiatives directly to the municipal council, which is obliged to consider them officially. Youth councils are usually consulted in issues such as the planning of facilities for physical exercise or youth activities.
The Cities of Kotka and Tampere have a Children’s Parliament. Consisting of 7- to 12-year-olds, they are advocates of children and young people’s issues. Tampere also organised the first regional forum for children and young people in autumn 2005.
The Finnish Children’s Parliament Association promotes children’s participation and influence in Finland. The ideological basis of its activities is in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Its aims include to serve as an umbrella organisation for municipal children’s parliaments, develop and diversify interaction between public authorities, schools and pupils, and help municipalities set up their own children's parliaments. A national children’s parliament is also planned in Finland and is due to have its first session in 2007.
The Voice of the Young in Helsinki is a Helsinki City project to provide an alternative to the youth council. In the Helsinki model schools and youth halls act as participation forums. The campaign involves activities such as the Mayor's annual Voice of the Young Meetings, Open Forums, district inclusion projects and a bank of young people’s ideas.
Updated on October 12, 2006