Teachers Professional Skills Development in Special Education (30 cr) at JAMK University of Applied Sciences, Jyväskylä
Author: Merja Lammi
The aim of my development project was to make presentation of Immigrant Education in Jyväskylä College in English.
Two years ago our college got financing from Finnish National Board of Education to make Immigrant Educational Curriculum. The Curriculum became ready last May. During the writing session, I became interested in developing Immigrant Education more and we started to find different ways to organize immigrant education and improve the knowledge of personal in multicultural education.
The aims of immigrant education, for both children and adults, include equality, functional bilingualism and multiculturalism. The objective of immigrant education provided by different educational institutions is to prepare immigrants for integration into the Finnish education system and society, to support their cultural identity and to provide them with as well-functioning bilingualism as possible so that, in addition to Finnish (or Swedish), they will also have a command of their own native language. http://www.oph.fi/english/education/language_and_cultural_minorities
In Jyväskylä College, there are 140 out of 4500 students whose mother tongue is another than Finnish or Swedish. The biggest language families are Russian, Persian, Kurdish and Afghan.
The number of immigrant students has been quite low, but it’s growing year after year. Immigrant students are in 21 different vocational fields and this is a one reason why we have had difficulties to organize some common teaching.
The three most important things in the Curriculum are individually, developing teaching Finish as a second language and networking inside and outside College.
Also is it very important that student has his own person in school. It doesn’t matter if that person is teacher, guidance counsellor or somebody else, important thing is that immigrant student has his/her own person who can help student in every situation.
If immigrant student has problems with studying, we have to find out if there are question about learning difficulties. It’s very important to separate learning difficulties from lack of training.
First of all we have to check if skills and learning have developed during the education. Another important thing is check basic learning skills: reading, writing and calculating. One very easy way to observe skill of technical reading is to give to student text in students own language. In Internet are many pages in different languages, even in Finnish, so you can solve what kind of skills student has in his own language and student use it.
In the case of learning difficulties we have to plan support with multiprofessional specialist. Also we have to make sure if student needs support also in his everyday life or choice of career.
After six years working with immigrant education I have only more and more questions, not any answers, Immigrants without vocational competence are very big problem in our society. To solve this problem we have to work together with other immigrant organisations, give more attention how we organize our immigrant education and plan what kind of support and when we are giving.