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Civic orientation is a course targeted for recently arrived immigrants in Finland. The course provides comprehensive information on residing, living and working in Finland. It delivers civic skills needed in the country, familiarises immigrants with the story of the Finnish nation, and accommodates immigrants’ efficient integration in the country.

Iloisia ihmisiä metrossa

Civic orientation enhances participants’ understanding of the Finnish society as well as their own rights and responsibilities. The Finnish Refugee Council perceives that early-stage integration services should include a nationally uniform Civic Orientation course. The course should be provided in one’s own language – preferably mother tongue. The latter reduces misinformation and misunderstandings regarding public services and officials, for instance.

An evaluation report on Civic Orientation indicates that the course supports immigrants’ early integration effectively. The report is written in Finnish, and therefore this article discusses its main findings in English below. First, the characteristics of a successful Civic Orientation course are presented. 

What is Civic Orientation based on?  

The Finnish Refugee Council’s Civic Orientation concept follows the Swedish Samhällsorientering (Civic orientation) concept. In addition, Samhällsorientering’s textbook Om Sverige (About Sweden) has been reviewed.

A successful Civic Orientation course should take place as a 70-hour entirety and in participants’ own language. The course applies a textbook that has been published in seven different languages so far (September 2021). The English translation may be downloaded here. The textbook covers the following topics of the Finnish society:  

  • functioning and structure  
  • values, laws and democratic principles  
  • rights and obligations in terms of an individual  
  • history
  • everyday practices. 

Each Civic Orientation course is taught by a Civic Orientation trainer who speaks the same language as the course participants fluently. Civic Orientation trainers are certified for the task as they have passed the Finnish Refugee Council’s training for Civic Orientation trainers. The teaching methods are based on dialogue. 

Who can organize a Civic Orientation course? 

The Civic Orientation course concept and textbook are available for unrestricted use in municipalities and learning institutions. So far, several courses have been organized. The course schedule can be designed to meets the organizer’s and group’s needs best way possible. 

Civic Orientation enhances integration 

A recently published evaluation report introduces the evaluation findings of the Civic Orientation course. The findings demonstrate how Civic Orientation improves early integration to the Finnish society effectively. 

A look into the main results: 

  • Civic Orientation improves participants’ understanding of the Finnish values, laws and habits. 
  • Participants perceive the information about Finnish history important. The information provided at the Civic Orientation course helps participants to understand the development of the Finnish society, which may reassert participants’ experiences of belonging. 
  • Participants are equipped with skills and knowledge applicable to their everyday lives. The course motivates to study Finnish language and helps to understand the possibilities one has in the Finnish society. 
  • Civic Orientation reduces misinformation. 
  • Participating in the course on one’s own language had a strong impact on learning. It made dialogue between the instructor and the participant possible. 

The evaluation report may be opened and downloaded here (in Finnish). 

The Finnish Refugee Council aims for a nationally uniform Civic Orientation to be included in the public integration services. Civic Orientation should be organized for at least all quota refugees, in their own languages. 

The Finnish Refugee Council has trained 21 Civic Orientation trainers so far, that can lead a Civic Orientation course in 12 languages. We are in the process of training 8 more trainers that should pass the training in the end of October 2021.  

If your municipality or learning institution is interested in organizing a Civic Orientation course and hiring a certified trainer to provide it, or you have any questions regarding the course, please do not hesitate to contact Katja Korhonen,, +358 44 762 4894.