Children of immigrant backgrounds lag considerably behind their native-born peers in learning outcomes in most key subjects, highlights the Trade Union of Education (OAJ). (Sari Gustafsson – Lehtikuva)

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THE TRADE UNION of Education (OAJ) has expressed its deep concern about the learning outcomes of children of immigrant backgrounds in Finland.

OAJ on Thursday highlighted that immigrant children are twice more likely to drop out of school than their native-born peers and trail their peers by roughly two years in learning outcomes in all key subjects, according to the latest country report published by the OECD.

“You could say Finland has failed in integration,” stated Heljä Misukka, the head of education policy at OAJ.

Misukka drew attention to the importance of both providing information about early-childhood education to the parents of immigrant children and ensuring benefits such as the child home care allowance do not reduce participation in early-childhood education, which – she highlighted – is key in preventing social exclusion and improving student achievement.

OAJ demanded that first-language teaching be increased for children of immigrant backgrounds at all levels of education, starting from early-childhood all the way to upper-secondary education.

The teaching of Finnish or Swedish as a second language should similarly be increased, as such teaching is currently not available to almost a half of children of immigrant backgrounds participating in early-childhood education.

“The teaching of Finnish or Swedish as a second language must be state-funded for eight years instead of the current six years. That way it can be utilised also at the upper-secondary level,” underlined Päivi Lyhykäinen, a special advisor at OAJ. “The legislation must also be amended to state that pupils have a subjective right to instruction preparing for basic education.”

OAJ reminded that the struggles of immigrants to find employment are problematic particularly in light of the ongoing shrinking of the working-age population in Finland.

Another demand tabled by the trade union is that the decision to tender the provision of integration services to private service providers be overturned.

“When you are talking about education, private service production is a big question. As long as integration training is tendered with the objective to reduce production costs as much as possible, the quality will suffer,” stressed Lyhykäinen.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi