Education and APA

The Finnish education system consists of one-year "pre-school", nine-year compulsory comprehensive school, post-compulsory secondary general academic and vocational education, higher education and adult (lifelong, continuing) education. Here you can find more information about education in Finland.

After comprehensive school all education levels are offering education in sport and physical exercise. Many of these offer also adapted physical activity (APA) studies.

Upper secondary education

After nine-year basic education in a comprehensive school, students enter upper secondary institutes. Upper secondary institutes include upper secondary school and vocational institutes which both give a qualification to continue to tertiary education. Some upper secondary schools are specialised.

Sport Institutes are boarding schools offering vocational education in physical education (sports assistant), vocational further and specialist education (coaching, sport facilities maintenance etc.) and preparatory education. Some sports institutes (The Sport Institute of Finland, Pajulahti Sport Institution, Eastern Finland Sport Institute etc.) have APA studies in part of the sport instructor studies.

Tertiary education

Tertiary education is divided into university and polytechnic (also known as university of applied sciences) systems. Universities are focusing on scientific or artistic master's and higher degrees while polytechnics are offering vocationally and practically oriented education on bachelor and master levels.

Four polytechnics (Haaga-Helia/Vierumäki, Arcada, Kajaani and Rovaniemi) are offering bachelor (Bachelor of Sports Studies) and master (Master of Sports Studies) level education in physical education. APA studies are included to the Bachelor of Sports Studies (BSS). For example in Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences BSS-students can choose for their specialisation studies EUDAPA (European University Diploma in Adapted Physical Activity) studies. EUDAPA studies content the position of APA in the society, scientific database of APA, adaptations of sports & pedagogy, multiculturality including alternative communication and projects.

Additionally, in some polytechnics (Satakunta, Jyväskylä, Oulu, Laurea, Metropolia) the APA studies are a part of the studies of other degrees. APA has a specific importance for example in the training of physiotherapists. For example bachelor studies of physiotherapy education in Satakunta University of Applied Sciences include 15 credits of instruction and promotion of physical activity that are compulsory for every-one. 5 credits of these concern APA. During the APA courses students learn how to plan and instruct physical activity to all age groups by using the principles of didactics and motor learning to his/her advantage. The courses include also basics of APA, familiarizing with APA service providers and collaborative projects.

The responsibility for higher education (Master and Doctoral level) in sport and physical exercise has been allocated to the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä. It is also the only institution that offers APA studies at Master and Doctoral level in Finland. Jyväskylä has had APA professorship and offered specialization studies from the mid 90’s. APA can be studied as a minor subject as part of the Physical Education Teacher Training, but APA is also available for other students of the Faculty as well as classroom and special education teacher students.

Updating education

In addition to these educational institutions, national associations of disability sports and physical activity (VAU, SoveLi, The Age Institute, The Finnish Swimming Teaching and Lifesaving Federation etc.) and some regional sports federations are offering updating APA education and courses. The aim of this practical education is to improve the APA skills and knowledge (instructing and organising APA, accessibility in sports facilities etc.) of sports and physical activity actors.

Finnish Sports Association of Persons with Disabilities (VAU) uses education as one important means of advancing inclusion in sport. The six three-hour disability sport workshops cover the basic subjects of APA and disability sport on an introductory level. In close co-operation with different training centers, vocational schools, universities and other organizations, VAU provides these workshops for professionals and students as well as volunteers in sport clubs. VAU also provides courses in Sherborne Developmental Movement, which aims to enhance the motor and social skills of children as well as adults with high support needs.

Age Institute’s training program offers current information and good practices about older people’s health exercise, mental wellbeing, and mobility-enhancing environments. Age Institute train exercise, rehabilitation and elder care professionals in NGOs and municipalities as well as peers and volunteers. Key themes include strength and balance exercise, exercise counseling, senior dance, care promoting functional capacity, and outdoor exercise. Age Institute organizes instructor training, open courses, tailor-made education, coaching, and mentoring.

Photo: The Finnish Sports Association of Persons with Disabilities (VAU)


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