Universal public childcare for children under seven has been central in Finland since the mid-1990s, capacitating both gender equality and children’s human capital and wellbeing. In 2015, as a further step in the development of this system, early learning and childhood pedagogy was strengthened through the early childhood education and care (ECEC) reform (statute 580/2015). Some months later, however, the right to full-day ECEC was restricted to children with employed parents (statute 108/2016). This paper discusses the objectives, framing and ideational drivers of these reforms on the basis of government bills and parliamentary debates. We argue that the development reflects a shift in emphasis from a universal and child-oriented social mobility ECEC rationale to a more austere rationale focussing on parents’ and notably mothers’ employment. We believe that the reforms will have negative effects on the quality of ECEC and increase inequalities in children’s human capital and learning.
- Yleinen kasvatustiede