The parliamentary elections to be held next spring will once again determine the direction of education, training and research, and that of publicly funded services. For that reason, this autumn and the coming winter will be a time for our sector to boldly exert its influence, says president Olli Luukkainen in his letter to OAJ-members.
OAJ will publish both its parliamentary objectives and a more comprehensive web page on the theme of education, koulutusratkaisee.fi, on World Teachers’ Day, Friday, 5 October.
We will present concrete measures for resolving the major problems in our society. Measures for moving away from a trend of exclusion towards a trend of inclusion and for reinforcing equality in education. Measures that will strengthen the safe and positive foundation for learning and create opportunities for everyone to receive an education and find employment. Measures that will reinforce Finland’s competitiveness and innovation capacity with the creation of new jobs and through which the best education system in the world will be developed as a whole.
In the next government programme, the issue of education, training and research resources will be resolved. The programme will decide on, among other things, the future development of early childhood education, the strengthening of basic education, funding for upper secondary schools, the opportunities of vocational education reform and the future of adult education.
Resources will secure the operating conditions of basic art education and liberal adult education. The government programme is also certain to include an item on the future of compulsory education and the vision for higher education. Digitalisation and integration measures will also be part of the government programme. What will happen to renovations to buildings plagued by mould and indoor air problems? These are all major issues.
Influencing elections must be a priority for OAJ’s operations at all levels of education policy. Parliament and the government create the framework, but how resources are used and the arrangement of education and training are largely decided by municipalities. Local associations must maintain constant contact with municipal decision-makers. Every individual bears influence and thus plays a key role.
We invite you to discuss these themes further with the hashtag #koulutusratkaisee. The downward spiral in education and research must be stopped, and we must restore respect for the values that gave Finland its status as the world’s greatest country in the field of education.
Courage for teaching work
Finnish society must relentlessly insist on giving every child and young person the opportunity to meet their greatest potential. Teachers, educators and supervisors alike: have the courage to create individual solutions and promote individualisation.
Some students need more support than others, and they should be looked after. At the same time, those who catch on quickly also need support in order to reach – and even exceed – their greatest potential. This means different learning results within age groups. That is quite a natural and permissible phenomenon.
Have courage to also demand more from your students. A teacher can and should be constructively demanding and occasionally even strict. We must adhere to our curriculum, qualification and competence requirements. This will help both broaden and strengthen the level of competence and responsibility.
We need courage to engage in dialogue also in our communities. We must foster an atmosphere where each person can and dares to speak his or her mind without being belittled or ridiculed. A community that debates and accepts different opinions also makes a strong group. There must be zero tolerance for any kind of bullying, under all circumstances. A group like that gives one room to breathe.
Courage for supervisors to lead their units and their community. Leaders who listen and hear but who are also determined, create a secure and productive atmosphere. Supervisors must dare to make decisions that do not always please everyone. It is important to make sure that everyone’s opinions are heard, not just those with the loudest voice.
Teachers, educators, trainers, supervisors, researchers, experts in academic tasks: have the courage to be a strong, self-confident and vocal professional of education, training and research – and be proud of your work!
Courage for union activities
The various levels of OAJ are currently preparing the union’s action plan until the end of 2020. We are preparing not only to influence the government programme, but also, for instance, for the continuous development of teachers’ working hour and pay systems and the teaching profession itself. We have also begun preparing for the 2020 round of collective agreements.
We are additionally developing our union’s regional organisational activities and renewing the funding for our regional organisations. We intend to adopt entirely new methods that will help increase our members’ participation in the union’s activities. We are also determining how we can tap into the opportunities brought by digitalisation in developing our membership services.
Together with our co-operation partners, we are continuing the operations of Sivistysakatemia, which got off to a great start. We are also one of the organisers of the ISTP 2019 Summit for high-performing education countries, to be held in Finland in March. In summer 2019, OAJ will become the first trade union to assume the role of SuomiAreena’s main partner. Being a main partner gives us the opportunity to bring greater prominence to current issues related to education, training and research in the public debate. Be sure to mark SuomiAreena in your calendar today.
Don’t forget to also mark down the next Educa event, which is scheduled for 25–26 January 2019. On Saturday, 26 January, the head of the electoral parties will take part in a parliamentary election panel on the topic of education.
I wish you strength, courage and a sense of community for your very important tasks in the name of a brighter future.
President of OAJ