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Tuesday's papers: Fake cops, vocational education reform, school tea ceremony

Dailies this Tuesday report on unscrupulous fraudsters pretending to be police officers, a new education reform that will make it possible to apply to vocational school all year round and in Kallio children are learning to respect one another by practicing an ancient art.

Teetä kaadetaan kuppiin.
The calming and shared experience of pouring and drinking tea is working wonders at a Helsinki primary school. Image: Susanna Pekkarinen / Yle

Papers today carry varied news, with tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reporting on a number of swindlers pretending to be police officers. Dozens of elderly people have been targeted by fakers who real police say have acted unconscionably.

In one case, the paper writes, a man introducing himself as a policeman called a pensioner on the phone and claimed that his credit card had been copied; the fake cop then told the man to bring his card to a specific tree. The elderly man obeyed and also divulged his online banking codes, losing hundreds of euros in the process. He never met the con artist, making criminal investigation difficult.

Not all victims end up losing money. IS reports that about a third of the 15 or so pensioners who were targeted in Helsinki actually had their funds stolen – but the sums still amount to a good haul.

"We're talking about losses in the hundreds of euros," says investigative chief Heikki Sandberg. "The biggest single theft has been at around 2,000 euros. Whatever they can take, they will take."

Some of the fake cops in the capital region have been apprehended, but the true blue authorities warn citizens to be on the lookout for brazen grafters.

Applications year round

Meanwhile the government handed in a bill on Monday that will change the timetable in which Finnish youths can apply for vocational education and conduct their studies. Regional newspaper Aamulehti looks at some of the main features of the upcoming transition.

Firstly, people will be able to apply to study at both basic and graduate level all year round, as opposed to only once in a big joint autumn push as now. Autumn will remain a favoured starting point, but will no longer be the only option.

"Personalised study paths make it possible for new students to jump in even in the middle of a school semester. This drastically shortens the amount of time spent by people on simply applying for vocation education," says Mika Tammilehto from the Ministry of Education.

A personalised path means that a new student's curriculum is devised based on their own desires and schedules, as well as the realities of working life, AL writes. Workplace teaching will also increase in order to ensure that students receive know-how on the job as much as possible, and prior studies or work experience will factor in heavily when personal curricula are being designed.

Groups such as the Trade Union of Education in Finland (OAJ) and the Association of Finnish Independent Education Employers have lauded the law change.

Primary school tea time promotes peace

In today's hectic socio-political climes of haste and insecurity, principles of peace and understanding are vital; and what better place to teach those values than in primary school, when children enter one of their first intense periods of learning manners and habits as part of a community.

The Kallio School in Helsinki uses a tweaked age-old method borrowed from various cultural traditions, namely the tea ceremony. Helsingin Sanomat writes that children have already benefited from the innovative custom of respect and concentration, and have told teachers they enjoy the opportunity to do something nice for another person.

The tea ceremony, which includes dozens of minute details and requires attention to etiquette and to one's fellow drinker, involves the children taking turns pouring hot water and performing other tiny tasks while engaging in creative story exercises. The concept was brought to the school by a father who HS says wants to remain anonymous.

"Let's just say this is my 100th birthday gift to Finland," the enigmatic man says.

Helsingin Sanomat also asks readers to write in and tell them about other innovations that could be brought to schools as methods that promote peacefulness and respect; things already in place at certain institutions or ideas that have yet to be implemented.

In Kallio, when the school's eight-year-olds are asked what they are doing as they meticulously follow the ceremonial sequence of calm, meditative movements and gestures, their answer is almost Zen-like: "We are making tea."

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