Local authorities provide and finance the majority of local and regional educational and cultural services. Finnish welfare and national competitiveness are based on high-quality equal educational and cultural services.
At municipal level, these services are divided into educational, library, cultural, youth, sports and recreational services. Services are provided either by local authorities themselves or in co-operation with other municipalities and other actors.
The task of cultural and educational services is to promote the skills and competence of Finns in accordance with the principle of lifelong learning. Local authorities finance and provide education from preschools to polytechnics through a nationwide network of educational institutions. Distance, network and multiform education is developed and used to an increasing extent.
Finland is a bilingual country. Local authorities provide educational and cultural services in both Finnish and Swedish. In Sami regions education is provided in the Sami language. As society is becoming increasingly multicultural, the need for services in other languages is also growing. Cultural and library services in particular take into account the various linguistic and cultural minorities.