Education: An investment – not a cost!

Education: An investment – not a cost!

As soon as migrants arrive in their new country, Finland, everyone is allowed to attend school in the case they are between 7 to 16 year olds. Actually, I would rather call them Finns – not migrants. After all, every single person is a student attending our school system that caters for all according to their individual needs. In the long run, the whole society benefits from the skilled people who can join our institutions according to their interest to become qualified professionals in the labour markets.

We in Finland have a rather short history of welcoming new Finns to our country from other countries and cultures. There are many schools and teachers who have never taught other students than native Finns. Naturally, these institutions and individuals lack experience. Thus, some may feel lack of skills and competence to teach students who do not master the language of instruction perfectly (the language of instruction in our schools is Finnish).

All individuals working in any schools should understand their role in creating a safe atmosphere for all students to learn and study. Another role for teachers is to get to know their students well enough to know the basics of their learning history and the educational path they have walked before entering Finland. By this, I mean e.g. to know whether a student can read and write and what are his/her academic strengths and weaknesses.

Especially the teaching staff needs support from the management while facing the new challenges in their career. Support can be arranged e.g. by peer-groups which were one of the topics discussed in my Ph.D. thesis published by the University of Oulu, Finland in 2014. Especially in the Finnish education system most teachers teaching the newly arrived students work alone in their school building without a colleague who is doing exactly the same work. This kind of support is organised in the city of Oulu since 2006 as I started my work in the Department of Education as a Coordinator. Those teachers meet monthly throughout the academic year to exchange views and practical challenges together.