Sastamalan Opisto (Sastamala Community College) is a non-profit Finnish open adult education centre. The college welcomes all learners, young and old and offers opportunities for a wide variety of recreational activities and study. Learning is largely self-motivated and, as a rule, not aimed at achieving a formal qualification. The college is owned by the City of Sastamala and funded by the state and city.
There are 181 open adult education centres in Finland, and every year more than one in ten Finns, a total of 650,000 people, attend an adult education centre.
Sastamalan Opisto delivers more than 1.000 courses for 4 600 learners each year, with about 23.500 teaching hours within the rural town of Sastamala, hiring about 220 hourly paid teachers each year. The permanent staff consists of five educational and administrative coordinators, two administrative staff and a Principal as well as two part-time regional managers. The college is responsible for designing its own curriculum to ensure that it best reflects the demand in its local area.
The courses cover a wide range of areas including life skills, music, the expressive arts, crafts, Information Technology, languages, cooking, sports and well-being. The college also has a small open university education department. Every year the college organizes talks and lectures on a range of cultural topics as well as current social and historical issues. The college also provides Finnish as a foreign language tuition for immigrants. It is possible to study languages also as a private student as well as online using the Internet.
In addition, the college runs a Children and Young People’s Basic Arts Education programme with a national curriculum in drama (theatre studies), arts and crafts, art (illustrative arts) and dance. These subjects have a national curriculum. The students who take the art education studies at the college are 7-18 years of age.
One of the college’s main tasks is to ensure the maintenance and development of creativity in the interest of the people, cultural industries and the community as a whole. Not only does the college offer a wide variety of opportunities for learning about art, practicing art and experiencing art in college classes, it also supports cultural actions such as arts exhibitions, concerts, theatre productions and other events. One example is the Children and Young People’s Book and Culture event taking place each year in November. The college is the home for many choirs and orchestras.
Sastamalan Opisto acts as an umbrella organisation for the third sector operators; associations, self-help groups and community groups. As a community college Sastamalan Opisto is tasked with the fostering of people’s engagement with their communities and therefore works closely with village associations.
Sastamalan Opisto is international. It has participated in some twenty European Union transnational and multilateral adult education and school education projects since 2004, and is currently a partner in a number of Erasmus+ KA2 strategic partnerships (both Exchanges of Good Practices and Innovation Projects) and receives Erasmus+ KA1 mobilities. There you can also read about the college’s recent NORDPLUS project as well as national LEADER programme project. You can read about our projects here.