University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 16.6.2017 Kirsi Siekkinen (Faculty of Education and Psychology, Education)

Start date: Jun 16, 2017 12:00 PM

End date: Jun 16, 2017 03:00 PM

Location: Kokkolan yliopistokeskus Chydenius, Kokkola

Kirsi Siekkinen

KM Kirsi Siekkinen defends her doctoral dissertation in Education ”Koulutuksen tasa-arvon diskurssit ja toimijat peruskoulun tuntijakouudistuksessa”. Opponent Professor Piia Seppänen (University of Turku) and custos Professor Juha Hakala (University of Jyväskylä). The event is held in Finnish.


In this research the interest was to understand the discursive formation of educational equality in political texts concerning the national core curriculum in Finland in the beginning of 2010s. The research problem was to describe and analyze discourses of educational equality and to analyze who are portrayed as actors of educational equality. The material consists of statements which different organizations, administrative bodies of education and private individuals gave in response to presentations, prepared in 2010 and 2012, regarding the objectives of the comprehensive school and the distribution of lesson hours. The research is based on critical discourse analysis and the analysis of social actors.

This research showed that educational equality in unified schooling and in equal preparedness for further studies and as regional and socio-economic equality is still represented as a strong ideological and political will in Finnish educational policy. The research showed the multi-threaded nature of the concept of educational equality and the combination of new interpretations with established, historically formed discourses. Six discourses of educational equality were identified from the research material: common school, differentiation, legal, state control, freedom and internationality discourse. Pupils, freedom of choice, equality and equity are represented as the active actors of educational equality. Schools, local authorities, pupils and legislation are positioned as passive actors. Day-to-day educators, such as parents, teachers and other members of personnel at schools are excluded from being actors of educational equality. The policy of educational equality consists mostly of Finnish policy.

 Based on this research it is possible to argue that due to its many meanings and static nature, educational equality has become a concept which is hard to grasp. Its meaning is based on existence and positive characteristics but its humane factors are mainly gone. At the same time several partly contradictory meanings lessen the explanatory power of educational equality and it can be described as a floating concept.

Key concepts: educational equality, educational policy, comprehensive school, critical discourse analysis, social action