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Activity Plan 2008
General: what is our activity about?
We hear promises, that bilingualism is richness. The
system has to respond to this call: people should have the right -
not the obligation - to the Swedish language.
Besides English, shouldn't more people have skills in other world
This pre-war based political system concerns the relations between
people and state through language. The system maintains the
expectation that Finnish speaking people born in Finland are
automatically compelled to have Swedish language skills.
As an institution, the political and social agreement maintains these expectations. The new optional Swedish language exam in the matriculation examination does not change this because the obligation to study the language remains. An academic degree requires Swedish language skills and it is a required subject in comprehensive school as well as in vocational school.
You may even say that axiomatic Swedish language skills are a part of the Finnish way of life, even though the desire to fulfil this obligation is falling apart.
This is based on social changes, which make it easier to recognize
the paradox between the language policy and people's needs. These
changes include deepening globalisation and European integration, the
disintegration of the Soviet Union, weakening of national states and
the growing significance of language and region as bases of people's
identity. International contacts, practical and economic needs and
independent interest in other cultures and languages do not fit in
with these restrictive language regulations.
A system even thought to be justified by the constitution does not cease to exist by some publicity stunt, good idea or proposal, but requires long term and massive questioning.
The system falls apart by a multiple and diverse social movement.
This already exists in different ways and on different levels, from grass roots activity to specialist comments and regional political initiatives.
Examples of this are Tohmajärvi municipality's initiative on the
Russian language as an optional language beside Swedish, Vuoksenniska
parent’s association's action on optional Swedish , professor
Arto Mustajoki's initiative on studying one neighbour language as an
alternative to Swedish, as well as the Language Political Committee's
initiative, where the Swedish language would be optional (option D),
and also growing network discussions concerning the matter.
Politicians and parties think that the current situation based on legislation is the best arrangement. In some way, this is the truth - as long as the citizens do not act on the matter in a persistent way. Public discussion should also include values as well as clarifying the facts connected with them to balance the choices.
The choices should be balanced through values. Swedish language skills and related cultural values are not absolute values, but are to be considered through individual rights and Finnish speaking community's freedom to act, as well as through an economic basis in relation to language skills.
In the discussion, values are to be weighted, not citizens or citizen groups.
In this situation, the Society sees itself as a small but very important factor in a polymorphic social movement, a sort of reactor questioning and undermining the system.
Because of the limited resources, the Society cannot do much. We also understand that we cannot act on behalf of a people's movement. The Society is not trying to replace people's activities on this matter. The Society supports such initiatives and movements which question the obligation of Swedish language skills and which promote the freedom of language choice.
The emphasis on the lingual obligation of the
social system should be changed to emphasise the right to a
All foreign language studies, including Swedish, should be optional at all school levels.
Swedish language studies should not be a condition to any degree.
Also the requirements for Swedish language skills in public posts
should be removed, with the exception of cases in which it is