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Monday's papers: Teacher burnout, Helsinki roadwork and hospital fire

Finland's press examines teacher challenges in comprehensive schools, Hämeentie progress, and a Naistenklinikka blaze.

Paloautoja Naistenklinikalla.
The Naistenklinkka (Women's Hospital) is located in Helsinki's Meilahti district. Image: Tuulia Thynell / Yle

The school year has started in most of Finland, with the last of the young students returning to the classroom early this week. In response to news on increasing teacher burnout, the tabloid Iltalehti asked teachers who have left the profession to explain why. IL summarises over 150 responses into six main points.

First, teacher authority in Finland is crumbling. Ex-teachers reported having major troubles keeping order in the classrooms. "I switched careers due to the constant fear of assault. I had to call the police twice in one year," one teacher told IL. Another said that because they are not allowed to touch the children, it is in practice impossible to remove disruptive pupils from the classroom.

The second item listed by teachers was the seemingly endless meetings and reports that go along with the job these days. "The majority of my time was devoted to entering things in [the information sharing system] Wilma," says one teacher who left the field.

Third was growing class sizes that made it seem as if the work was never done, and fourth was the associated "ineffective inclusion push" that seeks to integrate special needs children or those in need of enhanced support into the regular classroom, which also increased the work load.

"Inclusion means that children with special needs grab the spotlight, and so the rest of the pupils start acting up just so they can get some attention. A spiral of negative behavior sets in, meaning that even three adults can't corral 21 kids. The feeling of inadequacy was just too much to take," an ex-teacher explained.

Fifth on the list were increasingly critical parents, some of whom give "demeaning and inappropriate" feedback or offloaded the responsibility of raising their children on the teachers. Last on the list was the lack of stable, long-term contracts in the sector. One ex-teacher reported working on consecutive temporary contracts that covered the months of the school year only - leaving her jobless for the summer months - for 14 years straight before she quit.

Tsarist pipes are history

The capital city daily Helsingin Sanomat checks in on the massive Hämeentie roadwork project that has ripped up one of Helsinki's most widely-travelled arteries.

The renovation, which the paper says "has proven to be just as difficult as experts feared", has however reached a significant milestone, HS writes. A 130-year-old trunk water line that "dates back to the era of tsarist rule" and extends from the Hakaniemi Market Square deep into the Kallio district has now been successfully replaced. A waterworks employee says one of the difficulties of the project is that the waterlines are located underneath all the rest of the many subterraneous pipes and technical links, and master plans of the network are notoriously unreliable.

HS says that the 17-million-euro Hämeentie roadwork project began in early March 2019 and is expected to continue until the end of the year. When all is said and done, two kilometers of new water pipes will be laid, along with five kilometres of new sewer pipes and 50 kilometres of cable protection pipes. Once the project is completed, Hämeentie will be devoted exclusively to public transportation. The use of personal cars on the stretch of road will be banned, with only visits to commercial properties allowed.

Women's Hospital partly evacuated

And the Lahti-based paper Etelä-Suomen Sanomat provides details about a fire last night at Naistenklinikka, Helsinki's hospital for maternity and women's care.

A fire apparently started in the hospital's garbage chute late Sunday evening, causing heavy smoke to spread to several floors of the building. Dozens of people, including newborn babies and their families, were evacuated. Rescue services extinguished the blaze within an hour, and the cause of the fire is being investigated.

No injuries were reported, but hospital officials say that some beds in the maternity wards will be out of use for some time due to smoke damage. On average between 10 and 20 mothers give birth at the hospital every day. Most of the people who were moved on Sunday were relocated at the New Children's Hospital.

Patients planning a visit are advised to call the hospital first for instructions, ESS advises.

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