The second visit regarding our interest in integration through cultural education was to the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. There we met Maija Lummepuro who is a Counselor for Cultural Affairs of the Department for Art and Cultural Policy, and Ulla-Jill Karlsson who works as a Special Government Adviser for the Department for Vocational Education and Training. The two representatives informed us about their work at their respective departments, and explained how the work on the political level contributes and changes the aspects on integration in Finland.
First of all, the work on a political level, unlike the non-profit one such as Interkult Kassandra, is completely different. It is more about cooperation between various ministries, and also between departments within the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The stimulating discussion was revolving mostly around internal factors (including financial resources) that affect the way the ministry functions as well as outside factors (politicians, circumstances in Europe and Finland outside the political sphere). Also, the recent budget cuts of the universities and of the ministry itself were mentioned. Due to this, the question of integration, especially among students coming from the outside of the EU, is critical as well as problematic. Non-EU students will not be able to come to Finland for their studies because of the lack of finances to provide their studies and also because of the unrealistically high tuition fees.
On a more positive note, the ministry’s fields in education, culture, sport and youth work hard on integrating asylum seekers and immigrants, especially nowadays despite the immense migration wave and economic crisis. Various educational programs will be provided not only for children but also for adults, so that they would be able to find training, employment and learn Finnish as well as Swedish.
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