”I am learning something new about Finland every day!”

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Adebimbe and Leylo are studying Finnish in a basic school in Vantaa and are planning their future professions. The Parents along to school and working life project is helping parents who have immigrated to Finland to learn Finnish, integrate, and find their own professional path.

Adebimbe, Saara and Leylo are sitting at the table.

There is a lot of activity and noise during recess in the Kaivoksela schoolyard, but inside in the premises of the afternoon club there is a completely different feeling: there Saara Al-Emara, who is in work practice, is watching a child sleeping in a baby carriage, waiting for the mother Adebimpe Oyemakinwa to return from the morning’s lessons.

Saara, Adebimpe, and Leylo Osman are participating in the Parents along to school and working life project. In it, immigrant parents are studying Finnish and math in schools in Vantaa, as well as integration training content, and getting to know Finnish school and working life. There are activities on four days a week and on three days they also participate in basic education lessons, like this morning.

The project has functioned in Vantaa since 2017. This school year, six schools in different parts of Vantaa are participating and there are a total of over 50 parents. 12 mothers go to the Kaivoksela School group.

-The group is really active, multicultural, conversational, and participatory. It is really wonderful to guide this group, says project teacher Heidi Naukkarinen from Careeria.

During the school year, in addition to grammar, they have gotten to know their own neighborhood, visited cultural sites, and made friends with other participants. Adebimpe especially remembers the visit to the Finnish Red Cross.

-The best thing in the course is Finnish, it is the most important. Earlier, I was at home and did not know the language, but now I know how to write, says Leylo.

The project is being implemented in cooperation with Vantaa’s basic education, professional college Careeria, as well as Vantaa’s competence center. Careeria’s teachers are responsible for the parents’ training and guidance, while basic education offers the premises for the training and an opportunity to get to know school life. Vantaa’s competence center offers, for its part, support and guidance to the parents for transferring to working life, for example, guidance in their choice of career.

In the Kaivoksela group, like in the other groups, also, the parents have under-school-age children with them. Work interns have been employed to take care of the children during the parents’ lessons. This way it is ensured that also parents of small children can participate. In the Kaivoksela group, this task is taken care of by two workers, of whom Saara Al-Emara is one.

-I like children. I have applied to study to become an educational assistant. Tomorrow I have the interview, Saara says excitedly.

After the winter break, the parents’ schedule will change a little: some of them will continue into a three-month long work practice in fields that interest them. The rest of the group will continue studying Finnish with the project teacher. The services of the Vantaa competence center are also available for parents who are still thinking about their choice of career.

-I want to study in a university of applied sciences to become a nurse. I like people, says Adebimpe.

Also Leylo wants to study more: she wants to attend adult basic education, and after that, study to become a professional cleaner.

The project that is funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture will end in May 2023, but making the rewarded model permanent in Vantaa is already being worked on. As Finland’s most multicultural city, Vantaa has an excellent opportunity to function as a pioneer in integration work.

-It is great that multiculturality is seen more and more in basic school. Pedagogy that is linguistically and culturally responsible is a part of daily life, rejoices Heidi Naukkarinen.

Next fall, a new school year will begin with new parents. Adebimpe, Leylo an Saara encourage other parents to participate in the activity.

-The course is very good and helpful. I encourage you to participate, says Adebimpe.

Saara adds:

-Finnish daycare centers and schools are good. Don’t be afraid.

Keywords

IntegrationStudyEmploymentImmigration