The Opetusalan Ammattijärjestö (OAJ), one of EI’s national affiliates, has celebrated the 120th anniversary of preschool teacher education in Finland. OAJ president Olli Luukkainen reasserted the need for well-trained teachers at all education levels, including Early Childhood Education (ECE).
“Good teacher education is key to a quality education systems,” said Luukkainen. “It is important that all teachers are well-educated to a high-level in universities. There is no reason why early childhood education teachers should have lower levels of education than their primary school counterparts. Finland must upgrade preschool teachers’ education to masters level.”
ECE impacts on a child’s whole live
He also stressed that ECE is a very important step in a child´s life: “We all know that in ECE we can influence a child´s whole education career and smooth the social effects of a disadvantaged social background.”
“We should not underestimate little children´s passion to learn,” Luukkainen said. “At the same time however, we have to remember that learning by doing and playing is the most important teaching method in ECE.”
In Finland, preschool teachers and kindergarten teachers are working with children aged 1-6, in preschool and ECE institutions.
“EI welcomes the fact that Finland for many years put the emphasis on quality education for ECE teachers,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “The EI Education Policy Paper and the ECE Strategy, both adopted by the 6th EI World Congress in 2011, reassert EI’s policy position that quality education, including ECE, is a human right. ECE is a public good which should be available and accessible to all, including girls and boys from poor families, indigenous children, children of ethnic minorities and migrant children.”
“EI fully supports OAJ’s call to improve the qualifications of ECE and all teachers in Finland,” van Leeuwen concluded.