Swedish is spoken by 280 000 persons or 5,6 % of the total population Official language in Finland Majority lives in bilingual municipalities Also in ”language-islands”, such as Tampere and Oulu Language registration, officially registrated as either Finnish- or Swedish- speaking good picture and statistics, see the development
L EGISLATION Constitution declares that Finnish and Swedish are the national languages, e.g the public authorities are required to provide for the cultural and societal needs of the Finnish- speaking and Swedish-speaking populations of the country on an equal basis. there should be social welfare services, primary and other education and comprehensive information in both languages The state administration of Finland is bilingual by law, which implies that all laws, decrees and other important documents are available in both Finnish and Swedish.
T HE LANGUAGE ACT New Language Act came into force on 1st January 2004 Rights and obligations concerning language are set down in greater detail here. Swedish speakers have the right to use their own language in contacts with central government and with the authorities in bilingual municipalities. But it is important to note that the Language Act encompasses both national lanugages equally, not an Act to protect the intersets of just Swdish- speakers.
The authorities are required to provide service in my language on their own initiative, without being asked to do so. The situation of the Swedish-speaking Finns is good in terms of legislation..... BUT
.... THERE ARE SOME PROBLEMS There are no sanctions if the Language Act is not followed Possibilites to complain to the Chancellor of Justice, to the Ministry of Justice and to the Parliamentary Ombudsman of Finland. Complaints can also be adressed to Folktinget Once in a parliamentary period a report on how the Act has been implemented is given by the Government. Unfortunately this is not uplifting reading, same problems and same proposals on measures to be taken in reports of 2006 and of 2009
T HE PROBLEMS, SOME EXAMPLES Administration reforms, for example cutting down the number of emergancy call-centers Health-sector Finnish Railways and national Post (state companies) the other national language made voluntary in the matriculation examination less interest in Swedish among Finnish-speakers less knowledge in Swedish problems at the universities difficult to fulfill the Language Act
T HE S WEDISH DAY AND THE S WEDISH WEEK Swedish Day is celebrated on 6 November, and symbolizes the right for Swedish-speaking Finns to use their mother tongue freely in Finland. It is also an occasion for celebrating Finland as a bilingual nation. On Swedish Day, a grand party is arranged along with numerous local parties.
S WEDISH WEEK Idea is to offer a wide range of events and happenings free of charge or with reduced prices Through participation institutions of culture, associations, producers and companies can make Swedish more visible. Rock Concerts, photo competitions, football tournaments, theather for youth and children, seminars, theather production in co-operation between Swedish and Finnish schools, Clubs and movie-nights.
This year 10 cities are celebrating the Swedish Week, from unlingual Oulu up north to bilungual Porvoo in the south-east One website and co-operation in marketing the events One budget and the expenses are split equally
I ’ M HERE FOR YOU “I’m here for you” is a pocket-sized dictionary for hospital-staff. Gives them help with the most common phrases that they might need in their job, phrases like “where does it hurt and “here is your medicine”. The word spread and now the dictionary can be found in hospitals and health care centres all around Finland, so far we distributed around 30 000 copies.
G IVE YOUR CHILD A GIFT Information on how to raise your child bilingually and what advantages you give to your child by doing so. We want the parents to understand that a child doesn´t become bilingual per automatique. Also important for the parents to know that they have the legal right to demand day-care and schools in the preferred language.
G IVE YOUR CHILD A GIFT In Finland we have a unique system where the State offers every mother-to-be a starting-package for the new baby. The mother-to-be can choose whether she wants a sum of money (140 €) or if she wants to have a box with baby- clothes, feeding bottles, children's picture books and other necessities for a newborn. In this box various information- brochures are included and Give your child a gift is one of them. In other words, we reach almost 98 % (or 40 000 persons) of all parents-to-be. We also cooperate with another organization and have a website called www.svenskskola.fi, where every Swedish day-care centre, comprehensive school and secondary schools is listed in a database. You can search by entering for example day-care and Vaasa, and all day-care centres in the city of Vaasa is listed to you. This web-site also has a map-function, so that the user can see where in Vaasa the nearest day-care centre is compared to the users home.
P LAY ME Is a combination of a musical and circus and is the biggest event ever on the Swedish Theatre scene, the budget is 1,8 million euro. Started in 2008 with an audition on the Internet, and then live auditions. Apart from the audition, song writing competitions has been arranged and a CD has been produced. There are also club evenings and an internet game as a part of the whole concept. Aiming at the Finnish audience a web portal has been created, with material for teachers in Swedish to use. This material has been developed in co- operation with the Ministry of Education and around 3 000 teachers use the Play Me material. The opening night of Play Me was on the 9 th of September 2009.
O THER PROJECTS Theatre Bus Movies in the school Cook in Swedish Rent a Swedish-speaker Papper
C ONCERTS AND C LUBS The language has to be cool, important to hear famous rockstars give concerts in your own language Svenskatalande klubben, arranged monthly; artists are always Swedish-speakers, performing in Swedish. Sold-out clubs, many in the audience are Finnish-speakers.
T HE FUTURE Bilingualism is a resource but also a challenge The biggest threath is the Swedish-speakers themselves Difficult to reach unity on language strategies, different interest collide Harder to gain understanding and interest for Swedish Many ongoing administration reforms in Finland, big challenge to safeguard Swedish. Cooperation over the ”language-barrier” and positive language-climate is essential for the Swedish-speakers and a big challenge for the future.
T HANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION. Anna Jungner-Nordgren Public Relations Secretary The Swedish Assembly of Finland