Public education in Finnish began in the 1860s. The original source of schooling in the native tongue in Finland has been the Church, as it has been in a number of other countries. A principle of the Lutheran Church, the national church of Finland, was the ideal that people should be able to read the Bible in their own language. Also, the Church itself began to teach people to read and literacy became one of requirements that a person had to fulfil in order to get married.
A national school system, independent of the Church, was set up in 1866. Three years later, a Supervisory Board of Education was established under the Ministry of Education to inspect, monitor and govern the school system in Finland.