Category Archives: Finland

Roma Helpers Can Be Unhelpful!

The Finnish Ministry of the Interior has helped create the job of “Roma liaisons” whose task is ostensibly to assist Roma immigrants in the nation to secure housing and jobs. However, the Finnish Minority Ombudsman, Johanna Suurpaa, believes there is evidence the liaisons quite frequently interfere with efforts by Romas to live in certain communities. For example, in the Roma culture, two people whose families are at odds, might be prevented from obtaining housing in an area in which his “enemies” currently live. A Roma who is moving to another location must consult with a liaison.

Undoubtedly, Roma immigrants to Finland are in a strange country and do need assistance. The issue, most probably, is how to provide assistance that empowers people to make their own decisions.

One In Three Finnish Students Dislike School

The idea of an “education researcher” is unusual, given that this person after studying an issue for years arrives at a conclusion any teacher could have explained to him in one minute. Professor Jouni Valijarvi of the Finnish Institute of Educational Research has spent years to find out that about one third of Finnish students dislike school! Wow! Isn’t that surprising! The good professor also has discovered something only about 90% of educators knew from being a teacher– “weak skills, losing faith in one’ own ability to learn, and lack of enthusiasm for further studies tend to accumulate on the same pupils.” In plain English this means if you lack good reading or writing skills, grades go down and you wind up hating school.

Of course, the flip side of this story is that about 70% of students like school. Most feel this is “their school” and they enjoy being in it. It would be interesting to know what percent of teachers dislike school and dislike some students. After all, a teacher is really human.

Is It Always Illegal To Help Illegal Immigrants?

Mikel Storsjo, a Finnish business entrepreneur has been active in the fight for human rights. He confessed to being the man who smuggled into Finland fifteen Chechens who have been seeking a country to offer them asylum against the brutality which reigns in their nation. Finnish border police are familar with Storsjo whom they believe has previously helped illegal immigrants to enter their country. Storsjo admits he has helped those who seek asylum and has never hidden his actions. The refugees are technically Russian citizens so they do not need a visa to enter Finland.

Refugee experts argue that border guards should know that the entry of an asylum seeker into Finland is never illegal even if it takes place in an unregulated manner, and, even with false papers. Most probably the Chechens will be allowed to remain in the safety of Finland.

Racism Against Children In Finland

She was eight years old and boarding a commuter train in Helsinki when a man pushed her off the train back onto the platform and muttered, “get out of my way, you little monkey.” Amai Farah Abdi is the child of Somali immigrants who are trying to create a new life far from the madness and chaos of their native land. Her father said Amai had merely come to get money from him to purchase a transit pass when she encountered the bigot on the train. Fortunately, for Amai there was a decent woman who gently got her back on the train and protected the child from further abuse.

Anna Rastas wrote a doctoral thesis on the topic of treatment of immigrant children in Finland including those who were adopted and those who came with parents. After interviewing dozens of children she encountered repeated stories about prejudice and bigotry. Rastas believes many Finns are so unaccustomed to prejudice against children they are bewildered in how to react. Do they speak out, watch and shake a head or take action? Children often are always confused and many do not speak to parents and teachers about these incidents.

It might be wise for Finnish educators to develop programs which confront these issues and assist both victims and those on the sidelines of the importance of not merely speaking about them, but taking legal action.

Out Of Berlusconi’s Mouth Comes More Nonsense!

It is not very difficult to identify the leading spouters of nonsense in the world and certainly, Silvioi Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minister must rank as number one when it comes to opening a mouth and speaking utter inane remarks. The prime minister was discussing the beauty of Rome when he suddenly erupted with a comparison to Finland. “Can you imagine when I was in Finland they took me to see an 18th century wooden church. I remember how important this was to them. We woke up early in the morning and travelled to the church for three hours. Over here(in Italy) such a church would have been bulldozed to the ground.”

The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs did an investigation. Berlusconi was never in Finland at the invitation of the government and his only visit was in 1999 when he met with fellow conservatives. They checked his schedule for that visit and found no evidence he had visited any church while in Finland. The conclusion of the Finnish government is that Berlusconi may have confused Iceland with Finland. That is understandable, they both end with the letters, “land.” At least we know the Italian who roars nonsense does not like wooden churches.

Finns Losing Desire To Deal With Global Warming

According to a recent survey conducted by Helsingen Sanomat the desire of Finnish people to make personal choices aimed at slowing climate change has declined since last year. The greatest reluctance is cutting back on flying or improved use of public transport. Fewer people are willing to recycle, to sort out waste, to purchase energy-saving products or to reduce their use of cars. On the other hand, a large number of people are willing to pay a climate tax, perhaps, they regard a single tax as a simple solution to a complex issue.

It appears a higher percentage no longer regard climate change as an event that will directly impact their lives. If climate changes over a long period of time it may reduce the sense of urgency than if it came upon the populace in a sudden dramatic way. It is interesting that a large number of people are now more willing to accept the concept of nuclear plants.

Multiple Discrimination?

A new report by the Finnish League For Human Rights (FLHR) revealed data about the range of discrimination in Finland that raises the question of “multiple discrimination.” This expression refers to examples in which an individual encounters discrimination due to a variety of causes ranging from age, sex, country of origin, religion and so on. For example, an aged immigrant woman can be confronted with prejudice because she is female or old or an immigrant to the country. Current Finnish law makes it important to cite the specific reason for someone claiming discrimination.

The report urges that the ombundsman for minorities be given greater latitude in identifying cases of discrimination. The ombundsman for minorities does not have jurisdiction in cases of work place discrimination. Perhaps, they should have the power.

Sweden Works At Integration Of Immigrants

Among the remarkable aspects of world wide immigration since the end of World War II has been the influx of thousands of people from African and Middle Eastern nations into Nordic societies. in the Swedish city of Malmo about 86% of those living in a suburb are first or second generation immigrants. As Americans quite understand the arrival of strangers from far off nations whose skin is darker than typical Swedes has resulted in a white flight. Anis, an immigrant from Bosnia, comments: “when I first got here fifteen years ago, I had Swedish neighbors. Today, there isn’t a single one left. Several who were interviewed in The Local argued the departure of native born Swedes has opened the door for a small but active group of fundamentalist Muslims to exert power in the area.

Maxine Camara, who heads Rosengard’s refugee welcome committe, laments that Islamic militants are able to obtain support since so many people are under-employed and have tales of prejudice. “A lot of young people here are out of work. Their parents don’t work, and they get their only social interaction in the Islamic millieu, which complicates integration.” Integration requires opportunity to work, to interact with people of diverse backgrounds and to become an active member of the community.

Both sides claim the other is at fault which is the norm when dealing with issues of integration of immigrants. Step one, as always, is securing meaningful work for those seeking employment and for schools that are successful with all students.

Dealing With Finnish School Shooting After Effects

Shootings in schools attract enormous attention in the world press and frequently give the illusion that such events are common in schools. Despite the rarity of such events, they are traumatic to children, to educators and to the community in which they occur. People assume a school is a safe area and children are protected in them against the evils of society. Last September, Matti Juhani Saari, a Finnish boy, entered a vocational high school and killed nine students and a teacher as well as himself. The Kauhajoki Project has been established to work with teachers, students and the community as emotional feelings continue to impact individuals. The project emphasizes, as part of a three year effort to assist the community a focus on students and the families of dead children. A budget of one million Euros has been allocated to provide trained professionals to work with those in need of emotional support.

This is an intelligent approach. It is all too often for communities to go through shock and pain and then attempt to put the event away. We lack these approaches to systematic study of what happens in a community in the aftermath of a school shooting.

Finnish Youth Fear Or Don’t Fear Future?

Recent surveys indicate a rather confused outlook on the future by Finnish youth. Although 85 percent agreed with the following statement: “my life is happy at present,” nearly 35% said they were depressed and 45% insisted they were lonely. Yes, 85% said they were happy but 42,000 young people claim they are unhappy as they prepare to enter the world of being an adult. At the moment most of them believe life is OK, but hovering in the future is an unknown factor. More than 80 percent believe their work future is OK, but half of the women fear they will lose their jobs. However, 90% believe fervently that an individual who has skills and works hard will always find a job. At the same time, 60% think they will not be able to get the job they desire in the future.

What does this confusion mean? Most probably it is a combination of age, the current times, and an awareness the world is moving through some form of transformation in which the end result will be different for most people, particularly those who live in more industralized societies. It is difficult to escape the sense of change, but as in most change, one can not see a clear outline of the process.