The country’s population has high levels of digital skills compared to other European countries, according to the European Commission DESI index, 89% of people access online news, according to the 2022 Reuters Institute Digital News Report, with 45% of people getting news via social media. There are very high levels of trust in news compared to other countries surveyed, the DNR also found.
Media education was introduced in schools in 2004 in Finland, and media literacy efforts have traditionally concentrated on children, although there is now a shift towards involving more adults.
Finland is widely considered to be advanced in terms of media literacy provision, and the 2022 Media Pluralism Monitor concluded that media literacy policy was strong, with media literacy education being particularly prominent in schools, but also available via non-formal education. The 2016 Mapping of Media Literacy Practice and Actions in EU-28 survey found significantly more media literacy initiatives in Finland than in most countries.
The country’s 2019 media literacy policy shows an awareness of the multi-faceted nature of media literacy, and how it can be used to address multiple challenges in society. It also hopes to tackle fragmented provision and regional differences, and calls for more investigation into the true state of media literacy in Finland.
Even in a country with abundant media literacy initiatives there have been challenges, however, and the 2019 media literacy policy document noted that media education was inhibited by a lack of resources and a lack of collaboration.
EDMO hub membership
NORDIS: The Nordic Observatory for Digital Media and Information Disorder https://datalab.au.dk/nordis
Member countries: Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden
NORDIS employs the concept of digital information literacy, which is understood as:
“[A] set of skills and abilities which everyone needs to undertake information-related tasks; how to discover, access, interpret, analyze, manage, create, communicate, store and share information in the digital environment. In short, digital information literacy is the ability to think critically and make balanced judgments about any information we find and use – whether or not materials under analysis are valid, accurate, acceptable, reliable, appropriate, useful, and/or persuasive.
Digital information literacy allows us to understand the power and the need for accountability of numerous stakeholders who create technologies, platforms, and content for us in the digital age. Being able to critically evaluate the multiple sources of information empowers us as citizens to reach and express informed views and to engage with society from an informed point of view. With the tools of digital information literacy, we can assess the accountability of different actors in the field and demand a better digital environment for us as citizens and consumers, both from corporations and decision-makers.”
Who is responsible for media literacy at a national level?
KAVI (The National Audiovisual Institute), is the national media education authority and has a statutory duty to promote media education, children’s media skills and the development of a safe media environment for children.
KAVI reports to the Department for Art and Cultural Policy within the Ministry of Education and Culture. The Department for Art and Cultural Policy is also responsible for promoting media literacy at EU level within the framework of the audiovisual media policy of the EU.
KAVI’s Department for Media Education and Audiovisual Media (MEKU) is responsible for the promotion and coordination of media education at a national level, and the supervision of the provision of audiovisual programmes from the perspective of protection of children.
KAVI produces information on media education and its implementation at a national level, and maintains free web services for media education for professionals of different sectors, such as mediataitokoulu.fi, pelikasvatus.fi and ikaraja.fi. Its Media Literacy School online service (www.mediataitokoulu.fi). The service is also used for disseminating learning materials produced by other organizations.
KAVI also coordinates the national collaboration projects Media Literacy Week and Peliviikko (Finnish Game Week) that bring together hundreds of actors in the sector. The National Audiovisual Institute also implements and actively develops film education work in its screenings and in collaboration with other actors in the sector. The Media Education Forum (Mediakasvatusfoorumi) event that the National Audiovisual Institute organises annually supports networking between the different actors and the development of the sector, and disseminates up-to-date information on the implementation of the policy.
KAVI participates in international collaboration and represents Finland in the European Commission Media Literacy Expert Group and Safer Internet for Children Expert Group, for example, and in the EPRA group of European media regulators in matters related to the protection of minors and media education. In its role as the Finnish Safer Internet Centre of the Safer Internet network, co-funded by the European Union, KAVI collaborates with the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare and Save the Children Finland.
The official policy is outlined in a document on national media education, published by the Ministry of Education and Culture in 2019 (available in English here). The document updates the cultural policy guidelines for media literacy which were published in 2013. The most fundamental change made when updating the policy was the targeting all people of all ages in Finland.
The National Audiovisual Institute prepared the policy in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Culture and other actors involved in media education. According to the three main objectives of the media education policy, media education in Finland should be:
- comprehensive, meaning that everyone is entitled to “extensive and meaningful ”media education”
- of high-quality: topical, goal-oriented, relevant, ethical, accessible, sustainable and effective.
- Systematic: planning ensures consistency and coherence
According to the policy document, the Finnish Public Libraries Act obliges libraries to promote the availability and use of information, versatile literacy and active citizenship, democracy and freedom of speech, among other things.
A media literacy guidebook was published by KAVI in 2021.
The status of media literacy in the national school curriculum
Media education is included in the curriculum, according to the national policy, and “issues related to media education are addressed as a part of art, democracy, sexual, global, security and environmental education.”
The national policy explains how media literacy is positioned throughout the school system:
According to Finland’s National Core Curriculum for Early Childhood Education and Care of 2018, the objective of media education is to support children’s potential to be active and express themselves in their community and to learn source and media criticism. In early childhood education, media education is seen to promote transversal skills (soft skills that can be used across subjects) related to thinking and learning. According to the Core Curriculum for Basic Education of 2014, media literacy is included in the objectives of multiliteracy, which is a transversal skill that is promoted in the instruction of every subject. Competence related to information and communication technologies is a key transversal area, and media literacy is developed from the perspective of the objectives and key content of instruction in each subject.
In general upper secondary education, a special media literacy module leads to a media diploma at upper secondary level, which allows each student to demonstrate their specific skills and inclination in a diverse manner and according to their own interests.
In vocational education, objectives related to media literacy are included in the communications and interaction skills module that belongs to the common studies included in vocational upper secondary qualifications. In addition, deeper use of media skills and competence are developed in sector-specific studies of each degree, such as in the upper secondary degree in media and visual expression as well as vocational qualifications and specialist vocational qualifications in the media sector.
In the upper secondary qualification in arts, the students’ multiliteracy and media skills are developed using approaches and methods typical of each sector of art. In upper secondary level instruction in arts, a significant reform from the perspective of media education was the issuance of the core curriculum for the extended and general syllabus in 2017. At the same time, a core curriculum for the extended syllabus was issued for literary arts that contain elements of media education in 2017. Media education is also included in visual arts in basic education in arts (National Agency for Education 2017b).
Through the National Agency for Education, the Ministry of Education and Culture has allocated substantial financing to education providers for use in the development and diversification of learning environments and training of personnel in education services and early education, and various projects related to media education were also among these projects.
In autumn 2020, the Ministry of Education and Culture launched the New Literacies Programme which aims to strengthen young people’s media literacy and ICT skills, and in spring 2021 it published descriptions of targeted competence in ICT, media literacy and programming skills. The descriptions of competence are based on the national core curricula for early childhood, pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education and act as support material for teachers.
The position of initiatives targeted at those not in formal education
There are many media literacy initiatives targeted at those outside formal education, and the 2019 media literacy policy document stresses that media literacy work should be targeted at those of all ages. According to KAVI, there are close to 100 different organisations promoting media literacy in Finland, in addition to media education carried out in formal education, youth work, libraries and other public cultural services. Libraries develop media education activities, supported by part of their government subsidies.
However, a 2021 report from KAVI and the Centre for Cultural Policy Research (CUPORE) noted that there was little media education activity directed specifically at adults, and although this was changing, work with adults was in its infancy compared to that with children and young people. Funding for work with adults was identified as a key challenge. The authors highlighted various best practices and ways to move forward.
The Media Pluralism Monitor report suggested that more focus could be directed towards media literacy for older people.
Other media literacy stakeholders
Faktabaari – a factchecking service that aims to bring accuracy to debates particularly around elections. Faktabaari is a non-partisan journalistic service that uses social media to collect and distribute factual information. It publishes “pedagogical” factchecks and blogs on information disorders in its cybersecure platform. It is a partner in the EDMO NORDIS hub.
YLE /Finnish Public Service Media produces media education materials on its websites. For example, the Digitreenit website offers citizens a wide range of freely available materials for independent learning, and the Yle Uutisluokka (Yle News Class) media education activities are targeted at adolescents between 11 and 18 years of age.
News Media Finland, a trade association for news publishers, runs media education activities to support children and young people in adopting a critical and active relationship with the media. This involves helping teachers utilise news media in classrooms and produce media education materials for various age groups. The group’s ‘News Week’ has already been a part of Finnish media education landscape for more than 20 years,
The Finnish Society on Media Education is a key actor among the associations in the media education sector. A large proportion of the active organisations in media education in Finland are members of the Society.