Submitted by: Erkki Hartikainen on 30 September 1978
Alleged victims: The author and other members of the Union of Free Thinkers
State party: Finland
Date of adoption of views: 9 April 1981 (twelfth session)
Response, dated 20 June 1983, of the Government of Finland to the Committee's views*
1. With regard to questions relevant to the views of the Human Rights Committee concerning communication No. 40/1978, the Ministry of Education has given the following report.
2. On the basis of the report of the working group established by the National Board of Education mentioned in paragraph 9.3 of the decision of the Committee, the Board confirmed on 17 June 1981 the contents of the instruction of ethics and the history of religions for comprehensive schools. The working group had consulted the Union of Free Thinkers in Finland in a letter on 27 October 1980.
3. Paragraph 16 (3) of the Comprehensive School Statute (No. 443 of 26 June 1970) to which reference was made in paragraph 10.4 of the decision of the Committee, was revised on 16 April 1982 (No. 296, see annex) to correspond to the formulation of paragraph 6 of the School System Act (No. 467 of 26 July 1968). The amended text is as follows:
"Instruction on ethics and the history of religions referred to in paragraph 6 (2) of the School System Act shall be given for a period equivalent of at least one weekly lesson to five or more pupils who have been exempted from the general instruction of religion in the school and who are unable to show that they are receiving comparable instruction outside the school."
4. The National Board of Education has taken the following further measures to solve the problems cited in paragraph 10.5 of the decision of the Committee:
(1) The Board of Education has made an allocation as of 3 March 1981 allowing a senior official to be specially employed for 40 days a year to inspect the instruction of ethics and the history of religions.
(2) On 4 March 1981, the Board of Education charged the working group on ethics and the history of religions, established on 16 January 1979, with a further assignment to draw up a teachers' guide and to present proposals and make studies with a view to develop the instruction of ethics and the history of religions.
(3) In an effort to intensify the training of teachers of the subject, the Board of Education organized in November-December 1982 a workshop on how to improve teaching of ethics and the history of religions.
* For the Committee's views, see Selected Decisions. . ., vol. 1, p. 74.