The new bill on childcare and education submitted to the Finnish parliament is aimed at addressing mistreatment and victimization, increasing the skills of daycare personnel and promoting gender equality, national broadcaster Yle reported.
The reasoning behind the bill aimed at bolstering the children's rights and presented by Education Minister Sanni Grahn-Laasonen is that better education improves future opportunities for all children, even at an early stage.
"Knowledge of the importance of the early years is increasing all the time. Toddler teaching strengthens gender equality in education, prevents marginalization and supports learning readiness in all children," Sanni Grahn-Laasonen said, stressing that every parent must be able to trust the high quality of daycare centers and the exceptional knowledge of the staff.
The bill also includes new guidelines for combatting bullying at both the pre-school and school level, which will mark the first time anti-mob measures are included in the law on childcare education.
"We want to ensure that no one gets mobbed, be it in kindergarten, or later at school," Sanni Grahn-Laasonen explained.
The child's best interests will become the focal point, Grahn-Laasonen stressed, and the children's right to daycare without getting bullied.
In another first, Finnish kindergartens will receive similar funding to what schools already have received in order to increase gender equality and ensure that every child has as many education opportunities as possible. All in all, €10 million ($12.4 million) or twice the intended sum, has been earmarked for gender equality purposes.
Finland is already renowned for its comprehensive anti-bulling program, called Kiva (an acronym based on the Finnish words "against bullying", which also reads as "nice"), and has won numerous European and international awards in the 2000s and 2010s. Over 90 percent of all Finnish schools are logged to the Kiva program, and the majority of them have claimed that the situation has improved in recent years. Kiva or its local adaptations, which include "empathy training," has been tested in other countries, including the US. Overall, Kiva is claimed to minimize the risk of an individual student being bullied by one-third to one-half.
Nevertheless, three in four Finnish teenagers are still reportedly bullied online.
Finland was also ranked at the top of the EU statistics for combatting bullying at the workplace, the daily newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet reported in 2013.
If approved, the new law will come into force on August 1.