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Studying online when attending school is impossible, Finland

Kiia’s story, Finland

Despite high educational achievements in Finland there is a small group of students who are unable to attend school due to various psychological or somatic challenges. They are often hard to help by using the traditional educational methods and are left with only little pedagogical support. Tuuve, a supported online teaching project was developed for these students. This is a story about Kiia, a 16 year old girl who studied in Tuuve project in 2015 – 2017.

My problems started to build up when I lost a family member and failed to get psychological help in time to overcome my loss. During that time I also had issues with my friends and I was bullied at school. By the time I was 14 years I was diagnosed with social anxiety and depression. Going to school daily was a big effort and I started to have panic attacks. All my energy went to surviving through the lessons and none was left for learning. Finally I couldn’t make myself go to school anymore. After various attempts to organise my schooling my mother contacted Tuuve project.

Tuuve’s purpose is to offer supported online teaching for those students who are unable to attend school. At the moment the project is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Education. Tuuve functions closely with the local schools and students’ families. Otava Folk High school provides the e-learning platform and online materials. Learning is supported by the subject teachers who teach online in various subjects and also by special needs counselling and tuition from Valteri.

My studies in Tuuve started with a face-to-face meeting where I, my mother, a consulting teacher from Valteri and the school personnel met at the local school. At that point I was missing some of the 8th grade and all her 9th grade (the final year) studies. It was agreed that some parts of the studies would be done in the local school and most parts online in Tuuve.  The division of work was documented in a learning plan together with a preliminary timetable.

For me studying in Tuuve has meant e.g. joining in online group lessons with other students, keeping a learning diary, studying independently with e-materials and doing art projects for my local school. After two school years I will be getting my diploma this spring. Progression in studies has had it’s ups and downs and has also followed my psychological healing process.

Being able to study online has given me moments of happiness and success. It has meant a possibility to continue my education even though I wasn’t able to attend school at that time. Little by little I have got back my self-confidence and my dreams. Now I have applied to the local vocational school to become a practical nurse. I hope that in the future I can work with children and youth in international surroundings.

Further reading:

European Toolkit for Schools. Promoting inclusive education and tackling early school leaving.

Reducing early school leaving: Key messages and policy support. Final Report of the Thematic Working Group on Early School Leaving (2013)

iScoil is an online learning community that offers an alternative path to learning, accreditation and progression. They provide a safe environment where young people can re-engage with education, achieve recognised certification and access further education, training and employment opportunities.

The project presents a comprehensive, intersectional and gender sensitive approach of the issue of Early School Leaving (ESL) in Europe aiming at in-depth analyses of existing data and the collection of new empirical data in order to innovate educational systems at the European, national and regional level.

Written by

Johanna Sergejeff
Consulting Teacher
Valteri Centre for Learning and Consulting