ISM Finland Helsinki, Espoo 0

Provide equal funding for foreign-language activities in Helsinki and Espoo

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Just a few months ago, ETLA (the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy) released a study in which it was calculated that net migration would need to surpass 44,000 immigrants per year in order to stabilize Finland’s labor force. Currently, annual net immigration to Finland is just one third of that, at under 15,000 per year. Reaching the ideal level of net migration requires governmental support for and investment in English-language activities that newcomers find attractive and essential. Unfortunately, newcomers currently face hurdles when trying to find information about local activities–such as those related to music and arts–since many organizations do not even have websites in languages other than Finnish and Swedish.

In spite of the cities of Helsinki and Espoo publicly touting their support for immigration, the amount of public funding dedicated to non-Finnish-language activities tell a different story. When we look at funding for Basic Education in the Arts in Helsinki and Espoo, we can see that Finnish-language organizations receive on average over three times as much funding per student as international organizations, and in some cases, as much as 18 times more funding per student.

To make matters worse, in spite of significant changes in migration in the past several years, the amount of funding for international organizations has not changed significantly since 2015. This rigid policy structure and the resulting inadequate public funding will ultimately limit the ability of international organizations to serve highly skilled immigrants and international students. To address this issue, there is a serious need to provide equal funding for English-language services.

Several nonprofit arts and education organizations are attempting to bridge this gap for work-based immigrants in Finland, including the International School of Music (ISM) Finland. ISM Finland stands out as the only English-speaking music school in Finland, offering music lessons in English as well as 15 other languages and the possibility for international music exams. We have provided music lessons for the international community in Finland since 2015, because we believe that all people should have access to high-quality music education.

The City of Helsinki claims that “during the upcoming government’s term of office, both work- and education-based immigration need to be increased”, yet this has not been reflected in the government funding amounts. We believe that immigrants deserve equal access to activities that are provided for Finnish-language speakers. This equality begins with reallocating existing funding to English language services and increasing funding for international organizations. This will also allow international organizations to continue offering activities in English and other languages at a price fair for students and to remain competitive with Finnish-speaking organizations.

If Finland is to continue to remain a country that attracts international talent, we must ensure that newcomers have the ability to pursue a high quality of life upon arrival, which includes the ability to practice hobbies in their own language. For this reason, we would like to invite everyone who is part of the international community in Helsinki and Espoo and those businesses and organizations that support them to join us in petitioning for updated, fair, and equal public funding model for international organizations such as ISM Finland. This is an invaluable step towards helping influence the culture of inclusion and equality towards international communities. We continue to wholeheartedly believe that music is for everyone!

Thank you for your support!

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