A group of 25 Namibian school teachers have graduated from a two-year Master's Degree Programme in Primary Education at the University of Eastern Finland.
The programme – commissioned by the Namibian Students' Financial Assistance Fund – has its roots in a 2014-2016 pilot project where six teachers from the University of Namibia studied to a Master's level at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF). Following this success, UEF was asked to build a programme specifically for primary education that teachers from schools around Namibia were then encouraged to apply for. The 25 teachers were chosen from these applicants.
The teachers gave a performance at the graduation ceremony.
"We built the programme around the most relevant issues for effectively teaching young children at the primary level in Namibia," says the University of Eastern Finland's Professor Sari Havu-Nuutinen. "In addition to providing content knowledge about pedagogy that the teachers can use in the classroom, the programme also gave teachers the research-based tools they need for developing curricula."
This research-based approach is fundamental to Finnish pedagogical studies and curriculum development. The programme looked at examples of pedagogical research from around the world, providing tools that the teachers then used to collect empirical data for their own Master's theses. As the teachers came from a variety of backgrounds, some grounded their research in language-learning or arts and crafts, and others in science-based subjects.
"There was a deep practical component to the programme too, as we really wanted the teachers to learn from Finnish society's attitude towards education," says Professor Havu-Nuutinen. "We visited several Finnish schools, looking at how we design them, how the schools are part of the community, and the different roles of pupils, parents and teachers."
The two-year programme is underpinned by the strong diplomatic links between Namibia and Finland, as explained by the Ambassador of Namibia, H.E. Bonny Haufiku (see full interview).
"Since Finnish education is regarded as the best in the world, and with our strong links to the country too, it's logical for us to send students here," he said. "Investing in education is a wise step, and teachers are the key to development. With these 25 graduates, we have planted a seed that will bloom in the future."
Former President of Finland, UN Special Envoy to Namibia and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Martti Ahtisaari also sent a special congratulatory message to the new graduates:
"Our society is as strong as our children are; the future is in their hands," he said. "If we invest in children and offer them equal opportunities in life, our societies are more likely to remain peaceful. Equality is one of the building blocks for peace, and schools play a significant role in this."
"Finnish education is regarded as best in the world" Read our interview with the Namibian Ambassador to Finland, H.E. Bonny Haufiko
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