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Thursday's papers: Smaller school classes, tech start-up investment, Moomin mug mania

A new report shows that elementary school class sizes have fallen, allowing for more individually-oriented teaching.

Kodjalan kyläkoulun valmistavassa luokassa on ukrainalaisia lapsia, joita opetetaan.
Additional funding has been used to hire more teachers. Image: Lassi Lähteenmäki / Yle
Yle News

Jyväskylä's Keskisuomalainen (siirryt toiseen palveluun) is among the papers on Thursday reviewing a fresh report from Finland's teachers' union (OAJ) which shows that fewer than one in 10 elementary school classes today has more than 25 pupils. 

According to the OAJ survey, 59 percent of elementary classes have fewer than 20 pupils. Only eight percent have more than 25 pupils, 33 percent have 20-25 pupils. 

The situation has shown a marked improvement since a similar 2019 survey by the National Agency for Education which found that 18 percent of teaching groups had 25 or more pupils. 

"The situation has improved due to funding provided during the coronavirus pandemic and equality promotion funds distributed to the organisers of educational services. The money has been used, for example, to hire 'resource teachers', that is additional teachers for classrooms. In this way, it has been possible to divide classes into smaller teaching groups or split classes," explained Nina Lahtinen, the OAJ's director of education policy.

Many schools have split lessons, meaning the class is divided in half and the teacher instructs half of the class at a time.

In addition, according to Lahtinen, group sizes are affected in some areas by the regional age structure, reflecting the decline in the size of younger age groups.

The OAJ's own recommendation is that elementary class size should be no more than 20 pupils. According to Lahtinen, learning by children with lower socio-economic backgrounds especially suffers in large groups.

"For this reason, large groups increase inequality and also the differences in school success between girls and boys. It is more difficult to use individually-oriented working methods in large groups, which in part undermines learning outcomes," said Lahtinen.

Slush funds

Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) takes a look at preparations for the annual Slush startup and tech event that begins in Helsinki on Thursday.

Aimed at bringing together startups and investors, this year's sold-out event is expected to draw about 12,000 visitors, of which 4,600 are startup entrepreneurs and 2,600 are investors.

According to Slush CEO Eerika Savolainen, the investment funds that will have representatives attending manage a total of around one trillion dollars in capital specifically targeted at startups. Included are prestigious investors such as Benchmark Capital, Pear VC and Founders Fund. Speakers include Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP).

Back in 2011, Slush was a modest event of that brought together fewer than 1,400 people in the old Cable Factory in Helsinki, with no laser light shows or big corporate booths. At the time, the entire growth business ecosystem in Finland was still very much in its infancy.

Helsingin Sanomat writes that direct international investments in Finnish growth companies have increased tenfold since 2010.

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Cold night

Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) notes that the thermometer plummeted to -23.6 Celsius in northwestern Finnish Lapland overnight.

In eastern Lapland, the temperature has remained at around -10C, while the rest of the country, with the exception of the south and west coasts, have seen temperatures a few degrees below zero.

No major change in the weather is expected during the day on Thursday, but this coming weekend, the southern part of the country may be hit by snow showers. Some areas along the south coast got a first light dusting of snow on Wednesday. 

On Sunday, in particular, southern parts of the country may possibly see 1-5 centimetres of snowfall.

Moomin mania

Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet reports that a mug featuring Tove Jansson's Moomin characters is up for sale (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on the Swedish auction site Tradera with a starting price of 120,000 SEK, or over 11,000 euros.

The mug up for bids is called a "Fazer mug", one of 400 specially ordered in 2004 for the Karl Fazer Café in Helsinki. It features a Christmas-themed advertisement for the café drawn by Jansson in 1951, which was found in Fazer's archives.

The highest-priced Fazer mug to date was sold on the same Swedish auction site for 16,097 euros in March this year. 

Only one other Moomin mug, the prototype of the "Dive" series, has sold at a higher price, fetching 22,794 euros at auction in October 2021. 

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