Let us learn from the Finnish

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Al-Watan newspaper

A FEW weeks ago, I received a message from a Saudi woman through Twitter: "We the graduates of the Primary School Teachers Course like to request you to write about our plight as a result of the authorities marginalizing us for more than two years.”

In fact, these graduates do not find jobs because their course is not recognized. Many of them have expressed their grievances through messages saying they cannot find jobs that suit their educational qualification.

Those who pass the tests for Islamic education and Arabic language teachers are selected to fill vacancies in primary schools. But this contradicts their specialization, which stands as an obstacle for the employment of these graduates because most of them are unable to pass the tests.

An official of the National Center for Assessment said this week during a channel discussion that graduates of the Primary School Teachers Course can apply for educational jobs by sitting general aptitude tests from next year.

Who is responsible for the suffering of these graduates? Is it the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Civil Service or the National Center for Assessment?

If we study the experience of developed countries in education, we can find that they give utmost importance to students at the primary level. They insist that primary school teachers must be well qualified to do their job efficiently.

Some countries put a condition that primary school teachers have a master's or a PhD degree in the field. I like to mention here the experience of Finland, which is one of the best educational centers in the world. Education authorities in Finland select primary school teachers carefully, especially teachers of grade one to three. These teachers have to attend the Primary Class Teachers course without fail.

A media friend who is specialized in education told me: "We visited a primary school in Helsinki and were surprised to see a small child in grade three giving a PowerPoint presentation on different topics such as obedience to parents, the need to sleep early, keeping the room in order, doing home work, his respect to teachers and how he cooperates with schoolmates, the need to take meals in an orderly manner, participation in extracurricular activities and the need to protect public property.”

The little child was found talking to his classmates in the classroom in the presence of teachers who make monthly assessment of students. His fairness and integrity were even more surprising as he gave three marks out of five for a presentation. When the teacher asked him why he put low marks he gave the reason, and he was accurate in his assessment.

At the end of the semester, the teacher and students meet for an open discussion. They discuss about each student. This way a student is given a comprehensive and complete assessment covering his ethics and behavior while dealing with others. The discussions cover topics beyond what is mentioned in the textbooks and the curriculum.

This Finnish experience will not have succeeded without the specialized teachers and without preparing graduates scientifically and professionally. Primary school teachers attend special courses at colleges and universities and receive certificates recognized by the Ministry of Education.

Moreover, a primary school teacher must obtain a special license that qualifies him or her to practice the delicate profession. The Finnish experience is the most outstanding model in the world for training and preparing primary school teachers.


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