Samira Ouazizi is studying to become an early childhood education teacher and, as a teacher, she wants to guarantee for every child a safe opportunity to develop on their own. It is an important job, but the importance alone is not enough to make up for the shortage of teachers. Samira has a clear opinion on the matter: more salary.
It all started in the early 2000s when moments in the daycare centre's yard had such an impact on Samira Ouaziz that she was sure of her career choice.
– For some reason, it was always clear to me that I would become an early childhood education teacher. I went straight from upper secondary school to study early childhood education at the University of Jyväskylä, and I'm still on that path, Samira says.
Now, as her bachelor studies soon finish, she has already had two longer internship periods working at the daycare centre. Although she has, at times, questioned the choice of field of study during her studies, the internships have reminded her of why she wanted to study as an early childhood education teacher.
– Explaining and dealing with emotions is close to my heart. For example, a child may be grumpy or sad, but if you take a moment to find out why, you can achieve that rewarding moment when a child goes back to playing with a smile. Or when you manage to plan an activity that kids both enjoy and benefit from – it's so great.
You always get direct feedback on your work.
– You do get real reactions right away. If the kids think that an activity is not interesting, they say it directly – you don't have to guess, Samira says with a laugh.
The opportunity to grow up and develop in a safe environment
Samira considers equality, non-discrimination and a safe childhood as the most important guidelines in early childhood education. Daycare centre staff play a major role in creating a safe atmosphere. All of these are also emphasised in the basics of the National Core Curriculum for Early Childhood Education and Care.
Despite the hectic pace and limited resources, it should not be reflected in the children, they should always feel safe.
– Children need to be treated as individuals so that everyone has a safe environment in which to grow up. Our job as teachers is to support the child's growth and ensure that both the facilities and the atmosphere are safe for the child, Samira reflects.
The issue of resources for early childhood education, especially the shortage of qualified teachers, has been discussed for a long time. The number of students has increased but, especially in the Helsinki metropolitan area and other growth centres, many daycare centres are still struggling with the constant shortage of staff. Samira reminds us that as long as appreciation for the sector is not reflected in salaries, for example, the shortage of resources will not be solved.
– During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of talk about how important our work is, but, in practice, we don’t see any appreciation. The salary is quite low and it affects the willingness of students to work in the sector. Instead of just increasing the number of study places, resources should be allocated directly to salaries and daycare activities. It would affect both the attractiveness of the sector and the daily life and well-being of children.
Early childhood education changes with changes in society
Samira's goal is to develop early childhood education in one way or another. In addition to the working as a teacher, she is interested in various applications related to, for example, children's learning processes or the interaction between the daycare centre and homes. Samira believes it is important that early childhood education remains involved in the changes in society. Therefore, it is also necessary to keep the National Core Curriculums up to date.
– During our studies, it is already emphasised that the National Core Curriculum for Early Childhood Education and Care is an important foundation for all work. If, for example, there are conflicts with parents, it is good to have some broader guidelines to rely on and justify why we do what we do.
The most important values also emerge from the National Core Curriculum.
– Your attitude and way of thinking must be right in this job so that all children have equal opportunities and rights. Everyone has the same rules, and they are also followed, Samira concludes.