In January 2017, 25 Namibian primary teachers travelled to Finland to join the University of Eastern Finland at the Joensuu Campus. They are studying in the two-year Master’s Degree Programme in Primary Education, commissioned for them through Finland University.
The programme has turned out to be a real success so far, says Professor Sari Havu-Nuutinen, the programme’s Academic Director.
“Our students’ expectations have been exceeded. Straightforward and supportive communication between students and teachers from the outset has enhanced the positive ambience on campus”, describes Ms. Havu-Nuutinen.
The programme is commissioned by the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), whose main objective is to further develop the Namibian education sector.
“These students are ambitious, motivated and keen to improve things in their home country through education. From the Namibian point of view the Finnish education system is highly appreciated. Blended learning, advanced use of ICT solutions in research-based learning and active workshops are examples of Finnish uniqueness and effectiveness”, Ms. Havu-Nuutinen adds.
According to Ms. Havu-Nuutinen, Namibian students find Finland safe, clean and interesting country, where everything works smoothly. She also wants to thank the Embassy of Namibia for their constant and active support during the programme.
“Cooperation with the Namibian Embassy has been great all along. Namibia’s ambassador has visited us in Joensuu four times already”, Ms. Havu-Nuutinen says.
Mr. Kari Sormunen, Senior Lecturer of Physics and Chemistry Education, agrees with Ms. Havu-Nuutinen. He has taught Namibian students on a regular basis this past year.
“Namibian attitude towards life is extremely positive. They take their studies seriously, which is important too. I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching and getting to know them. This whole experience is unique for all of us here”, Mr. Sormunen says.
The University of Eastern Finland also engages in research collaboration with Namibian partners in other fields, including forest sciences and geographical and historical studies.
Laughter echoes from classrooms at the Joensuu Campus when the Namibian students walk in. One of them is Ms. Mirjam Sheehama.
“The best part of being in Finland is to be here at the university. For me the exposure to the university has been an informative, enthusiastic, life-changing experience”, Ms. Sheehama smiles.
She praises the equality and freedom Finnish education system represents.
“It was pleasant to find out that in Finland you can make your own choice about what to study, something I have never experienced before. I have learnt so many things and I am eager to put my knowledge to use back home”, Ms. Sheehama says.
“Flexibility and independence” is how Namibian Master’s Degree student, Mr. Kelvin Mubiana Katukula describes his experience in Finland.
“I admire the friendliness Finnish teachers have for their pupils. The whole atmosphere is informal and warm which will lead to better learning results. I think we need to reduce the formality of teaching in Namibia in the same way”, Mr. Kelvin says.
“This has been an eye-opening experience”, he adds.
University of Turku in collaboration with Finland University is hosting a similar group of Bachelor degree students studying in Rauma, west coast of Finland. Education programme started in beginning of 2017 and takes three years. The first two years of the education are organised in Rauma and the third year including practical training periods and distance learning is organised in Namibia.
Pekka T. Saavalainen, CEO Finland University
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