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Friday's papers: English education, economic growth and slippery sidewalks

Steady demand for English-language early years education, Finland's economic growth forecast to slow more than expected and above-zero temperatures causing slick pavements.

 Jalankulkija kävelee liukkaalla jalkakäytävällä
Image: Jarno Mela / Lehtikuva

Daily Turun Sanomat writes that demand for English-speaking early childhood education in Finland remains steady outside the Helsinki region too and that daycare centres also offer instruction in many other languages.

Katri Mantere from the City of Tampere says there are several private institutions offering daycare in English. “In addition, we have one English-language group in a municipal daycare centre,” she says.

At the moment, 240 children are enrolled in English-language early years education in Tampere. “Our supply meets demand,” Mantere adds. Early years education is also available in French and German in Tampere.

What is more, Tampere and some other cities organise so-called "language showers" or language immersion programmes, where language teacher students from local universities visit daycare centres to teach and play with children. So far, such immersion groups have been organised in English, Spanish, Chinese, Swedish, French, German, Russian and Italian.

"These events serve as a basis for the culture and language education that daycare institutions offer on their own," says Outi Verkama, who coordinates the project in Tampere.

"They increase the feeling of community and participation," Verkama says.

Meanwhile, about 600 children in Turku are enrolled in English, French, Spanish, Russian or Estonian-language early years education.

“Most of them are in English groups,” says Vesa Kulmala from the City of Turku. “The number has remained quite steady over the years,” he adds.

In Oulu, early childhood education is available in English, German and Sámi, TS writes.

Growth to slow

Daily Kaleva reports that Finland’s economic growth is forecast to slow down more than previously expected next year.

According to the Research Institute of Finnish Economy Etla, because of its small size Finland is sensitive to fluctuations in the global economy and market sentiment, which have recently become more pessimistic.

What happens in the UK next year will have a significant effect on Finland, Kaleva writes. Etla director Vesa Vihriälä says Britain will likely organise a new referendum on its relationship with the European Union. "The alternatives are either accepting PM May’s agreement, a no-deal Brexit or remaining a EU-member," Vihriälä said in a statement, according to Kaleva.

"With some luck, the last option will gain the most votes," he added.

Etla also foresees that the relationship between the US and China will worsen next year. Retail sales and industrial production in China have already slowed and the trade war with the US could accelerate a global downturn, Kaleva writes.

Slick sidewalks

Finally, tabloid Iltalehti warns readers that sidewalks are likely to be slippery on Friday. Temperatures will rise slightly during the day, and it will be mild and cloudy in most areas of southern and south-western Finland. As a result, frozen snow on sidewalks and above-zero temperatures will cause moisture to build up on top of icy street surfaces, IL says.

According to Juha Sihvonen from the Finnish Meteorological Institute, this is "a perilous combination for pedestrians."

Fellow tabloid Ilta-Sanomat says pedestrians in southern Finland should choose their footwear carefully on Friday and wear spiked shoes, if possible.

Slippery pedestrian pathways tend to show up in accident unit statistics during the winter. Figures indicate that altogether Finland sees some 16,000 different kinds of falling, slipping or stumbling every year. Roughly 11,000 of them involve pedestrians.

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