Thirty new teachers graduated after an intensive training period in Tampere
‘There will be new training programmes in the future, but this first one is the one that will be remembered,’ says University Lecturer Pekka Räihä.
The group that will be remembered comprises 30 Indonesian students whose Master’s Degree Programme in Teacher Education concluded in a graduation ceremony held in Tampere at the beginning of April.
‘This group is like one big family. The difference compared to Finnish culture is that students in Finland do not form a community with their teachers,’ says Professor Eero Ropo, who was in charge of the Master’s degree programme.
‘This was my first time visiting Finland and Europe. The one and a half year programme has been rather intensive. I have learned a great deal. I have been dreaming of this, and I am now making my dream into a reality. This has been a wonderful experience,’ says Marthunis Bin Bukhari, a newly minted Master of Arts (Education).
The Faculty of Education at the University of Tampere implemented the training in cooperation with the education marketing company Finland University and the Indonesian Sukma Foundation. The students comprised teachers from the three schools of the Sukma Foundation in the province of Aceh in Indonesia.
Interested in the best
education in the world
For many of the Indonesian Master’s degree students, the month-long intensive period in Tampere meant their first trip abroad and their first experience of a cool climate.
Sansrisna was previously unfamiliar with Finland, but she had experienced a climate colder than the tropics before.
‘I wanted to participate in this programme because Finland provides the best basic education in the world. I have been wondering how you do it.’
Sansrisna feels that as a woman she has the same opportunities as men, even though Indonesia still holds to very traditional notions of the roles of men and women, particularly in rural areas. However, women formed the overwhelming majority in this Master’s degree programme.
The training provided
Familiarisation with the Finnish education system provided the Indonesian students with ideas on how to reform education in their own country.
‘Reformation takes time. I’m full of ideas, but it will not be easy to change the educational processes,’ says Marthunis Bin Bukhari.
Khairil Azhar claims that Indonesia has enough funds to carry out changes, but the lack of commitment is a problem. The legislators and government officials determine the direction of the education policy, and it is not easy to make changes to it.
‘We need to have options. We come from private schools and can do things differently than in public schools. We too must follow regulations, but we still have more leeway.’
One of the problems is a lack of competence in teachers. Khairil Azhar claims that it is even possible to buy a Master’s degree diploma. He is not accusing anyone of being a fake teacher, but he knows that false qualification certificates are on sale.
In Indonesia, the teaching profession is not the top career choice among young people. They would rather become doctors or engineers.
‘In Finland, you become a teacher by choice, but in our country it is an excuse or maybe even an accident,’ says Azhar.
The lack of appreciation for teachers is reflected in the low wages. Teachers in public schools are paid regularly, while teachers in private schools must obtain secondary income. The work of teachers suffers from this.
change the culture
Professor Eero Ropo took charge of the Indonesian Master’s degree programme towards the end of 2015 without any preparation or prior experience in education marketing.
Teachers were recruited for the teaching periods held in Indonesia ‘out of thin air from inside our own organisation and a few also from elsewhere’.
Ropo describes his experience as positive. There have also been some mishaps along the way, but nothing worse than some forgotten passports and stomach aches.
‘A Finn can even get used to a tropical climate in a week. By the time you have to go home, you are already used to it,’ claims Ropo.
The participants have also learned to understand cultural differences.
‘The aim of this Sukma Bangsa school is to change the culture in this highly conservative Muslim state.’
The school’s 10-year history also includes some painful events. The tensions in the province of Aceh are rooted in an armed conflict which lasted for almost 30 years, ending in a peaceful resolution in 2005 with the assistance of Martti Ahtisaari, the former President of Finland.
‘The representatives from the school have received death threats. At one point, the school was surrounded and threatened to be burnt down,’ says Ropo.
The early years in the school’s history were a struggle for its existence against the threat of extremist movements. The Finnish teachers did not receive any threats.
The school was on guard when a bomb was found inside a Buddhist temple located 60 kilometres away. At the time, the Finnish teachers were not even allowed to go outside for coffee.
‘We felt very safe. We were never allowed to leave the school premises unaccompanied. Whether it was hospitality or ensuring our safety, we don’t know. But no threatening situations ever occurred,’ says Ropo.
education marketing in Asia
The Master’s Degree Programme in Teacher Education implemented by the University of Tampere means a breakthrough for education marketing in Asia.
‘There is rapid growth in demand for Finnish teacher education, which is the best in the world. There will be major additional projects in the future,’ says CEO Pekka T. Saavalainen from Finland University, who gave a speech at the graduation ceremony in Tampere.
Eero Ropo confirms that the prospects are good.
‘We don’t have any news yet, but we have received very positive indications that a similar programme will perhaps be implemented elsewhere in Asia. It is possible that we will continue providing teacher education as this type of short-term programme, bringing teachers here for a few months with funding from Indonesia.’
It has been decided that an international scientific journal called ‘Indonesian Journal of Education’ will be founded to assist the Indonesians.
‘The journal will be launched in July this year. We in Finland will support it for five years, and then we can withdraw.’
University Lecturer Pekka Räihä intends to follow the careers of the Indonesian Masters of Art (Education) even after their graduation.
‘Once they have been working for a year, i.e. in September 2018, I will travel there to collect materials and find out what their work entails. After all, we should know what type of impact the training has. That type of research can’t be carried out just by collecting materials via the Internet,’ says Räihä.
for teachers in Thailand
While the Master’s degree programme for Indonesians was being implemented, university teachers from Thailand were also being trained in Tampere.
Teachers from Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi participated in a contact teaching period in university pedagogy, which is part of a larger study module in university pedagogy that started in October last year.
The University of Tampere implemented these training programmes in cooperation with Finland University, the joint education marketing company of the University of Tampere, University of Turku, Åbo Akademi and the University of Eastern Finland. Cooperation with Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi will also be continued in the future.
Text: Heikki Laurinolli