Teachers are required to be up-to-date on their subjects in the interests of their students and also be familiar with the curricula and learning environment in educational institutions in an informal educational setting.
This was the message of education experts on the third day of the International Education Forum and Exhibition organized by the Ministry of Education in Riyadh.
Thousands of visitors, including elementary and high school students, came in groups to the exhibition on Wednesday. They visited the various stands of the participants both from within the Kingdom and abroad, including Numu Al-Elmia, Education Experts, Tatweer, Microsoft and Saudi Aramco. There were also some major internationally renowned companies from South Korea and Finland.
In her presentation, Teachers’ Preparations and Qualifications Help the Transfer to aKknowledge-Based Society, with a special reference to Finnish experience, Hannele Niemi from the University of Helsinki said teachers are responsible for creating a knowledge base in society.
They have a big influence on the younger generation’s capacity to face future challenges.
Outlining the high quality of the Finnish teachers, Niemi pointed out that they are expected to take responsibility to develop their profession, analyze complex situations like a researcher and make decisions on developing their teaching methods to suit different learners. They have to be thorough in their subjects and conduct research on the subject matter and how it can be transformed in relevant ways to benefit students, said Niemi, who is also an author of the book, “Miracle of Education, The Principles and Practices of Teaching and Learning in Finnish Schools.”
What makes Finnish teachers different, according to Niemi, is that all of them are masters in what they do.
“There is no school achievement testing, no probation period and no inspectorate,” she said.
According to Niemi, teaching is a demanding career which needs full devotion and life-long learning to impart high quality education to their pupils. “It is an active individual process, whereby learners are constructing their own knowledge base,” she said, adding that the concept of learning in Finland is different from conventional teaching methods.
Niemi said all teachers belong to the Teachers’ Union. She also pointed out that Finnish teachers have a moderate level of salary, but they show a high professional commitment.
“Learning is a process based on sharing and participation of different partners in a community which in the past used to be a receptacle for transmitted content. Today the acquisition of knowledge has become a renewable process in an active learning environment.”
The presentation explored the teachers’ role in a knowledge-based society in which knowledge plays an important role in transforming all segments of life. The lecture dwelt on the changes in the concept of learning and knowledge creation. To this end, teachers need competence to inquire, analyze and use different kinds of knowledge modes, including research-based knowledge. The concept of knowledge society also includes people’s capacity to use new technology for learning as well as knowledge inquiry and production. The lecturer explained how new technology can be integrated in everyday school life. It requires both pedagogical and organizational qualities.
Speaking on the occasion, Finnish Ambassador to Riyadh Jarno Syrjälä told Arab News that Finnish basic education is of the highest level in the world and can offer various courses on demand.
“We have established strong relationship with our friends in Saudi Arabia since the visit of our education minister two years ago,” he said, adding that his embassy is in close contact with Saudi officials both in government and private sectors.
He said in the private sector “we now have delegates attending the forum and having stands at the exhibition where universities from Finland are looking for partnerships. I am happy to be involved in education activities since my Finnish learning centers and universities are offering technical and vocational courses. We also seek cooperation in different levels.”
Professor Oon-Seng, dean of the college of education, National Institute for Education in Singapore, dwelt on the integration of technology in education.
The morning sessions hosted Alhagi Manta Drammeh, John Chappelear, Fahd Alshayaie and professor Ahmad Syed Khalil. The three speakers discussed teachers' professional development.
As part of the exhibition activities educational experts adopted a pilot training project to stimulate the teachers of the 21st century. Ahmed Al-Zahrani, projects director and committee chairman of the Social Responsibility at Education Experts Company (EEC), delivered the main lecture on a project.
Al-Zahrani clarified the idea of the lecture was focused on the ambitious project that design a special training course for teachers. This aims to meet the requirements of the transition to a knowledge-society, pointing out that Kingdom is keen to enrich and exhaust all possible avenues to ensure teachers will benefit.
He strongly calls for a smoothing of the transformations taking place in educational systems in developed countries.