Saami Language Online Education Outside the Saami Homeland: New Pathways to Social Justice

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Saami languages are spoken across wide areas, from Mid-Scandinavia to Kola Peninsula, Russia, but they are all threatened Indigenous languages. Altogether, there are 10 Saami languages, of which three are represented in Finland: Northern, Inari and Skolt Saami. After centuries of assimilation policies, through broader inclusive thinking from the 1980s and the 1990s onwards, the teaching of Saami languages has begun to receive governmental support. In Finland, until the 1970s, the Finnish language was the main medium of instruction for Saami children. This has led to a language shift and assimilation over many generations. Currently, the main education task is to avoid continuing the loss of language. This chapter showcases how Saami languages are retaking their status via maintenance and revitalisation measures and displays Saami online language education as a solution for those children and young people living outside the Saami homeland. This solution is especially important because most Saami people now live outside this area. We therefore urge a swift decision on Saami education, as stipulated in the Basic Education Act about the availability of Saami language classes and support for pedagogical development in the endangered language situation. Starting to recognise Saami language education as an opportunity and a resource rather than a problem would be a key shift in language attitudes to build a path for comprehensive education based on social justice for Saami children and young people in Finland.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFinland’s Famous Education System
Subtitle of host publicationUnvarnished insights into Finnish schooling
EditorsMartin Thrupp, Piia Seppänen, Jaakko Kauko, Sonja Kosunen
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-19-8241-5
ISBN (Print)978-981-19-8240-8, 978-981-19-8243-9
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoEC publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Field of science

  • General education


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