The municipalities argue that local children will benefit more from learning Russian than Swedish and has applied for permission to swap the languages in local schools. A total of six municipalities — Lappeenranta, Imatra, Mikkeli, Savonlinna, Pieksämäki and Tohmajärvi – are behind the applications which propose to introduce Russian language in a trial period.
The country’s Ministry of Education however wants it otherwise and has turned down the applications.
“Since we have certain subjects that everyone must study, it is not possible to drop one out, that would then require a change in the law,” Education Minister Henna Virkkunen told YLE.
Finland has two official languages – Finnish and Swedish – and all children have to go through study programs in both subjects. However, while a significant part of the population in the western part of the country uses Swedish as their first language, the language is in little use in the country’s east. There, along the border to Russia, studies in Russian now appear far more attractive to youngsters.