‘Ohjauksella onnistumisiin’ project in Espoo’s general upper secondary schools

During the school year 2022–2023, Espoo’s general upper secondary schools will develop their guidance counselling practices, especially those geared towards young people with an immigrant background. The project is called ‘Ohjauksella onnistumisiin’. The project is one of the 38 projects funded by the Finnish National Agency for Education as part of the national programme to improve the quality and accessibility of general upper secondary education. The aim is for all students to have equal opportunities to succeed in their studies and in life.

The measures carried out during the project year (2022–2023) include:

  • piloting an operating model for cultural instruction in Espoo’s general upper secondary schools;
  • visualising a student’s study path including the critical points where support and guidance are needed;
  • training teaching and guidance personnel to consider in their work the need for information and support among foreign-language students, students with an immigrant background, and their families.

What is the purpose of the ‘Ohjauksella onnistumisiin’ project?

  • More and more Espoo residents speak a foreign language as their mother tongue or have an immigrant background. At the end of June 2022, the number of foreign-language residents was 62,620 (Trimble Locus, Population), which accounts for nearly 21% of the total population and 71% of the population growth in January–June.
  • In Espoo’s basic education, around 22% of pupils speak a language other than Finnish, Swedish or Sami as their mother tongue. Foreign-language speakers account for 11% of students in general upper secondary schools and 30% of students in vocational schools. In Espoo, teaching is provided in 39 different mother tongues and in 6 religious/ethics subjects. In general upper secondary schools, students are offered mother tongue instruction in seven languages.
  • In Espoo, the popularity of general upper secondary education and the students’ learning results are among the highest in the country. Among Espoo residents who completed their basic education in 2021, 75.6% applied to general upper secondary school as their first choice (national average 57%).
  • There is a growing need in Espoo to make study paths visible, especially with regard to children and young people with an immigrant background and at the transition points of their studies. Cultural instruction in general upper secondary schools reduces segregation and the impact of socio-economic factors on the choices students make regarding their studies and future careers.
  • The city’s strategy, the Espoo Story, highlights the fact that Espoo is customer- and resident-oriented and aims to offer all its residents a great starting point for life, studies and work.  One of the seven goals set in the Espoo Story for the council term 2021–2025 is that Espoo is Finland’s top city for integration.
    The integration programme of the City of Espoo 2022–2025(external link) (in Finnish)

Cultural instructors at Espoo’s general upper secondary schools in the school year 2022–2023

At the beginning of the school year 2022–2023, the first cultural instructors started working in Espoo’s Finnish-speaking general upper secondary schools. One of the goals of the ‘Ohjauksella onnistumisiin’ project is to develop an operating model for cultural instruction and related practices for general upper secondary education in Espoo. A model for cultural instruction is already in use in Espoo’s basic education.

Cultural instructors work to ensure that all general upper secondary students have equal opportunities to succeed in their studies and in life. The cultural instructor supports students’ and their guardians’ integration and participation in Finnish society. Cultural instructors support students, their guardians and school staff in the school’s everyday life, and they communicate with the young people and their families in their mother tongue.

Cultural instructors can facilitate multicultural and multilingual cooperation for example in the following situations:

  • A cultural instructor serves as a support person and interpreter in meetings involving students with an immigrant background, their guardians, and school staff.
  • On request, a cultural instructor may support a student during individual lessons or when a student has many absences and the continuation of their studies in general upper secondary school is being assessed.
  • A cultural instructor may also be asked to increase teachers’ cultural knowledge and understanding of a student’s situation.
  • Students can discuss matters related to their studies in their mother tongue.

Cultural instructors offer individual guidance and support for students and their guardians and support cooperation between home and school in Finnish, Russian, Arabic, Somali, Chinese, English and French.  


Cultural instructors working at Espoo’s Finnish-language general upper secondary schools:

Donya Hajali (Arabic)
Tel. 040 636 6297

Elena Junnila (Russian)
Tel. 040 636 6462

Hamse Mohamed (Somali)
Tel. 040 636 6298

Shan Zhu (Mandarin, French, English)
Tel. 040 636 6287

Contact information for the ‘Ohjauksella onnistumisiin’ project