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Teachers' union slams municipalities for unfair hiring practices

Chair of the Trade Union of Education Olli Luukkainen has accused Finland's municipalities of unfair teacher hiring practices, as some local governments refuse to draw up a work contract until the first day of the school year. The union is also calling for lower teacher-student ratios in classrooms in the face of growing learning outcome disparities.

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The gap between successful and struggling students is rising, says OAJ. Image: Milla Takala / Lehtikuva

In an appearance on Yle's Aamu-tv programme Friday, President of the Trade Union of Education in Finland Olli Luukkainen criticized Finnish municipalities for their 'unfair maneuvering' in the provision of teacher work contracts.  He says many cities have adopted a practice of only hiring teachers on the first day of school, for example.

The OAJ says signs of decay threaten Finland's premier status in comprehensive education, with performance inequality and regional disparity both on the rise.

The union proposes several things to address this, including a system of nationwide norms that are independent of the political arena and better teacher training.  

The OAJ says that among the Nordics, Finland puts the least amount of resources into teachers' continued skills development. It is also highly variable, as different municipal authorities attach varying degrees of importance to professional advancement.

"Teachers and rectors need better training to develop their pedagogical skills," he says.

The union also proposes setting a maximum class size to ensure that each child receives enough attention.

In early childhood education, a maximum of seven 3 to 5-year-olds would be assigned to a teacher, while in first and second grade there would be one teacher for every 18 students.

In order to achieve equal and optimal results, the OAJ says teachers should be responsible for no more than 20 students in grades 3 to 9, as well as in high school and vocational school.

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