Regional daily Savon Sanomat reports that Finland lacks competent teachers of Islam. According to the paper, there are currently only 20 qualified teachers for 10,000 Muslim pupils in Finland, while 100 are needed.
Tuomo Laakso from the Trade Union for Education OAJ says that at the moment many teach the subject without appropriate qualifications. A teacher of Islam must have a Master’s degree, which includes pedagogical studies in the subject.
“But currently, the teachers of Islam have very diverse backgrounds: Some may be experts in Islam, others may have studied at the university, or even be qualified as teachers, but in another subject,” Laakso says.
Because of the shortage of competent teachers, Laakso proposes an easier route to becoming one.
“We need a special educational programme, where those with some university studies could apply. The course would be temporary and funded by the state,” he says.
If a school is unable to offer instruction to pupils in a given faith, a religious community may organise it instead. However, in that case it is impossible for the school to monitor the curriculum, according to Laakso.
A community group, the Muslims of Helsinki, is concerned that Islam is taught to children by non-Muslims. In Finnish schools this is possible, because religion instruction can be given by persons not affiliated with the faith.
"Of course we hope, and even demand, that a Muslim child receives education in Islam by another Muslim,” says imam Juho Heinonen.
“We have received complaints about atheist teachers, who say they do not believe in God,” he adds.
“In such cases, we have organised instruction outside the school, in a mosque or elsewhere.”
Ice cream sales heat up
Business paper Talouselämä features a story on Finnish ice cream makers whose sales have gone through the roof thanks to the prolonged heat wave.
”This is definitely the best summer for us. We were slightly cautious first, because Finland has had the coldest summers in 50 years, and now we have the hottest summer in 100 years,” says chief executive Horst Neumann from Suomisen Maito, which manufactures Jymy ice cream.
Similarly, chief executive Heikki Huotari from Kolmen Kaverin Jäätelö says sales have increased by 50 percent this summer. “We currently produce as much as we can in our facilities. We have had to turn down new clients.”
Both companies have also gone international with their products. Jymy exports to Germany, Japan and Sweden. “We have sold our ice cream in London as well, but that just got difficult due to Brexit,” Neumann says.
“But in Japan, there’s a three-billion euro ice cream market to tap into. Finland also has a good image there, with connotations to lifestyle and design,” Neumann adds.
However, international customers are not necessarily keen on Finland’s favourite flavours. “The Dutch and the northern Germans might like liquorice, but the Japanese prefer more basic flavours like vanilla and blueberry.”
Kolmen Kaverin Jäätelö has also taken their products to Sweden and Germany. “We just started exporting to Germany a month ago, so it’s too early to say how our products will fare there,” Huotari says.
One of the company’s bestselling flavours in Finland is blueberry-cardamom. “Let’s see if the Germans like that.”
Finns ambushed in Australia
In other news, the BBC reports that two Finnish backpackers were attacked in Western Australia on Saturday. A man and a woman, both 33, were hiking on a popular Bibbulmun Track near Perth, when they were ambushed by a 36-year-old Australian man.
According to the police, the assailant drove a four-wheel-drive into the Finnish man and then attacked him with a shovel. However, during the fight the woman was able to grab the shovel and subdue the aggressor, while a passer-by helped to restrain him until the arrival of the police.
Both Finns were taken to hospital. The motive for the attack remains unclear. The assailant is due to appear in court on Tuesday.