Finland: EI expresses condolences to the victims of school gun rampage
On behalf of all education workers around the world, EI expresses its heartfelt condolences to the victims of the gun rampage and all Finnish colleagues.
On 7 November, an 18-year old man went on a gun rampage at his school in Tuusula, some 50km north of Helsinki, and killed seven pupils and a teacher.
A former student of the Jokela High School, the gunman gave a warning of the attack in a video posted on the internet. Called the "Jokela High School massacre 11/7/2007", the video shows the young man pointing a gun and declaring himself a "social Darwinist" who would "eliminate all who I see unfit".
A national day of mourning was held on 8 November and a crisis centre has been set up to help those affected by the tragedy.
In a statement posted on their website, an EI member organisation in Finland, the Opetusalan Ammattijärjestö (OAJ), said: "The shooting drama is a great tragedy and many of us ask the same questions of how this could have been prevented and what we should have done. For the OAJ, we think that prevention is paramount. Early intervention and early detection of the possible signs of radicalism have become an important aspect of the job of a teacher."
EI sent a letter of condolences to its Finnish members on 8 November.
In the letter, EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen said that "we cannot accept that such violent rampages continue to take place in schools, which should be preserved from violence and be safe havens dedicated to learning and healthy development for children."
"EI commits itself to such an endeavour. It will be critical to develop means of prevention, involving teachers among others, to ensure that such massacres do not repeat themselves in the future," he continued.
Below is the content of the letter in English:
TO EI MEMBER ORGANISATIONS IN FINLAND: Professoriliito Professorsförbundet, FUUP Tieteentekijöiden liitto Forskarförbundet, FUURT Opetusalan Ammattijärjestö, OAJ
Brussels, 8th November 2007
Education International has learned with great shock the shooting that occurred yesterday in the peaceful city of Tuusula, which took the lives of seven pupils and a teacher and left a dozen people injured.
On behalf of all members of Education International, I wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. I would also like to express our solidarity with the whole Finnish community in these very tragic circumstances.
It is extremely sad and regrettable that such a tragedy occurs, especially following a similar one in Virginia Tech University, United States, last April.
We cannot accept that such violent rampages continue to take place in schools, which should be preserved from violence and be safe havens dedicated to learning and healthy development for children. EI commits itself to such an endeavour. It will be critical to develop means of prevention, involving teachers among others, to ensure that such massacres do not repeat themselves in the future.
Yours sincerely, Fred van Leeuwen General Secretary