Finnish Children's Parliament
The aim is to develop further a sustainable, national children’s organ, the Finnish Children’s Parliament, thereby having a positive impact on the establishment of local parliamentary activities for children.
Within our activities, children and adults work together to develop new means for discourse between children and adult decision-makers, and to create evolving methods for children to have an influence within our society.
By enabling children's voices to be heard and supporting children's growth, we aim to support the development of independent and independently-thinking citizens who believe that they can affect the society around them. Our activities endeavour to provide as many Finnish children as possible with the opportunity to experience co-operative participation and influence, as well as to enhance children's media, democracy and lobbying skills.
Download the report of children's paricipation activity here.
A virtual parliament building has been constructed online for the use of the Finnish Children's Parliament. This virtual building provides representatives with a place, independent of time and location, to interact and further their activities.
The Board and Committees of the Children’s Parliament meet weekly online in chat rooms, and discuss issues and prepare for future plenary sessions. The children carry this work out using written agendas. The Chairmen of the Board and Committees gradually assume their roles in leading the Committees, the Board and the Parliament.
The members of the Children’s Parliament discuss issues online in their own discussion forums, respond to surveys submitted by decision-makers, and hold a two-week long online plenary session. The Board and all of the children meet also in person, and the next physical plenary sessions for all the children involved will be held in five cities. Tampere will host the physical plenary session in 2011.
The children have various online tools at their disposal. The website enables a representative of the Children’s Parliament or any Finnish child to present the Children's Parliament with an idea or an initiative through the ‘initiative channel' service. In nearly six months, more than 150 new initiatives have been submitted.
In order to promote their issues, children gather information, utilise the media, their own online media, initiatives and statements, local activities, addresses, and surveys, and they also define what they feel is the right method for acknowledging children's matters and interests. (One example of this is their definition of a positive recess environment.) The children's own means of getting their messages across, such as poems, are also incorporated. The children have a USB flash drive containing a portfolio program for the presentation and drafting of proposals.
The children prepared for the first plenary session online during the spring. During the plenary session, which was held during 17–30 April, the children contributed close to one hundred topics for discussion and more than 1,000 comments. The Children’s Parliament presented its first official initiatives and contentions to the Finnish Parliament on 4 June 2008.
The decisions made by children concern the practical aspect of children's rights. For example, children create definitions and models for parliamentary activities, suggest the best manner for implementing the nutritional recommendations proposed by adults for the Finnish school system, and demand that adults propose recommendations to prevent bullying and teasing in the schools.
Within six months from the establishment of the Finnish Children’s Parliament, the official connection between the adult Parliament and the Finnish Children’s Parliament is still very apparent.
The Local Children’s Parliaments in Finland
Finnish Children's Parliament was founded in November 9th, 2007 at Tampere. The aim of the Finnish Children’s Parliament is to develop a sustainable, national children’s organ, thereby having a positive impact on the establishment of local parliamentary activities for children. The basis of the Parliament lies in the 20-year-old Children’s Rights Agreement of the United Nations (http://www.unicef.org/rightsite/).
The main aim is to help to create culture of democracy to the comprehensive schools. Every child
should be heard, get information about the matters which concern him
should be able to participate and influence on decision making
should learn the principles how to influence on a democratic society
should experience how to be important and respected in his own community.
To take model of the Children’s Parliament in Tampere to the other counties is part of the democracy education. The Children’s Parliament is Tampere is the first county based children’s’ parliament and it was founded in Tampere in 2001. The Children’s Parliament in Tampere has consolidated its’ position and it has taken numerous initiatives in Tampere’s public administration. The schools take a vote on representatives for children’s parliament every second year.
Finland’s second children’s parliament has been founded in Kotka in autumn 2004 and there have been many discussions with different counties about founding children’s parliaments. Nowadays there are more than 20 local children´s parliaments in Finland.
The Finnish Children’s Parliament Foundation
The Finnish Children’s Parliament is maintained by the Finnish Children´s Parliament Foundation. It is an uniting element of the children’s parliaments and it also helps the counties to found children’s parliaments, introduce into attitudes and declarations and further the progress of the taken iniatives. The meaning of the action is also to improve and to dersify interaction between public administration, schools and the pupils. The foundation offers consultation and produces material about the influence skills. The aim is to progress the international cooperation about developing democracy education in comprehensive schools and communicate between different countries and continents.
The Children’s Parliament Foundation has five full-time and one part-time employees, as well as more than 60 adult volunteers carrying out support work as a part of The Children´s Parliament Association.
In the early phases of our activities, the Ministry of Education set a target of 50 towns for participation. Altogether, however, nowadays the Parliament has representatives from nearly 200 of Finland’s 342 municipalities, altogether 380 representatives.