10.06.2020, Johanna Järvinen-Taubert
How has Finland coped with the Covid-19 crisis?
This blog post is part of Maltese radio interview with Johanna Järvinen-Taubert in May 2020, 1/3. Radio interview was arranged by Dr Kenneth Vella, headmaster of the St Joseph Mater Boni Consilii school in Paola, Malta.
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit Finland as it has hit all the other countries. There was a lockdown in the whole country, as there were restrictions for public gatherings. People were instructed to work remotely from home, if possible. Also, all schools were closed since mid-March till mid-May.
So, from normal daily work in Finnish schools and classrooms, the whole education system was changed to distance teaching literally during one day. As in many other countries, this has never happened in Finland before.
Teachers had practically only one day to prepare for distance teaching in Finland. Distance teaching has been used mostly in higher and adult education before this pandemic in Finland. So, changing the contact teaching to distance teaching mode was new to almost all teachers in basic and upper secondary education.
However, there has been a strong push to use more digital devices, applications and digital materials in regular, face-to-face teaching in Finland for several years already. Our current curriculum emphasizes the use of digital material and devices in all subjects strongly. So many of the teachers had some experience of the digital applications also before this. Of course, teachers had very different competences with e-learning and digital aids: some of them had only a little experience with devices and applications, whereas some of them had a lot of experience and very advanced skills with them.
But this current situation forced all the teachers to adapt and learn new skills in a very short time. Considering this, the change happened surprisingly smoothly. Teachers, principals, students and parents have all been amazed, how well distance teaching and studying has worked. To our point of view, a generally strong professional and pedagogical expertise of Finnish teachers has helped a lot in this transition.