Generous donation enables further research and a professorship in early childhood education

The foundation Brita Maria Renlunds minne celebrates its centenary year in 2018 by donating millions to research and education in the field of pedagogy. The donation will fund a permanent Swedish-language professorship in early childhood education at the University of Helsinki.

The chair is the first Swedish-language professorship in early childhood education at the University.

“Professorships are extremely important to the development of an academic field. Professorships bring postgraduate education, which in turn generates new generations of researchers, furthers international collaboration and benefits community relations. This strengthens the research and education in the field,” says University Lecturer Jan-Erik Mansikka at the Faculty of Educational Sciences.

“Early childhood education is a relatively young field in academia, which is why the new professorship is particularly important,“ Mansikka adds.

In Finland, kindergarten teacher education only became part of higher teacher education in 1995, twenty years later than its counterpart in basic education.

Early childhood education is a relatively young field in academia, which is why the new professorship is particularly important.

“Kindergarten teachers are still in the process of developing their own teacher identity and professional status. This is partly due to the fact that daycare belonged to the social sector up until 2013.”

In 2013, early childhood education and care became the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Culture, and since then it forms part of an educational spectrum that begins with daycare and continues all the way to university.

“This involves an increased emphasis on the development of children’s competencies and learning, which is also expressed in the new national core curriculum for early childhood education and care issued by the Finnish National Agency for Education in autumn of 2016,” says Mansikka.

School system in Finland

 

År 2013 flyttades ansvaret för småbarnsfostran till undervisnings- och kulturministeriet och är nu således en del av del av en pedagogisk helhet som sträcker sig från daghem till universitet. Grafik: vecteezy.com & Vera Schoultz

Quality teacher education produces high-quality teachers

Initiatives with long-term benefits for children and youth are important to Brita Maria Renlunds minne, a foundation that celebrates its hundredth anniversary this year.

“We have chosen to celebrate our centennial year by making a number of large donations and endowments to universities and higher learning institutions that are committed to the development of early childhood education through research and education,” says Gun Sandberg-Wallin, CEO of the foundation.

“High-quality teacher education results in high-quality teachers for children and youth.”

The foundation was established in 1918 by the businessman Karl Herman Renlund in memory of his mother Brita Maria Renlund. Its objective is to offer support to the daycare and school environment and the wellbeing of children and youth who receive their education and instruction in Swedish.

Thanks to the foundation and other generous donors, a flourishing Swedish-language pedagogical community has evolved at the University of Helsinki.

The centennial donation is the foundation’s second large endowment to the University of Helsinki within the space of a few years. In 2014, the foundation made an endowment of €2.1 million, which is being used to develop the Swedish-language class teacher education programme.

Thanks to the foundation and several other generous donors, a flourishing Swedish-language pedagogical community has evolved at the University of Helsinki. The first class teachers will graduate from the new programme in a couple of years.

“Both staff and students are very enthusiastic. It’s exciting for everyone to participate in building entirely new programmes. The students like the degree programmes’ profiles and the emphasis on diversity, multilingualism and social justice,” says Professor Gunilla Holm, who is responsible for the class teacher programme.

“I feel the same excitement coming from our kindergarten teacher students. They are united in their desire to work with children and in the satisfaction this gives them. Areas of particular interest to the students include linguistic development, children’s rights and gender-related topics,” Jan-Erik Mansikka says.

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