Equality Through Knowledge - Elina for the Helsinki City Council
Quality education for everyone
Education is amongst the best ways to root out inequality in society. We are proud of our primary education, which is the best in the world. Let us keep it that way and avoid a class society for children.
- A place in a school close to home must be guaranteed. All the schools – be they suburban or central – must be of equally good quality. We need to take steps to avoid school picking and schools must not be allowed to diverge further. It’s possible to make schools more attractive by offering music classes, art classes and classes with other emphases.
- There have to be enough adults in a school. The school community is more than teachers and students. School psychologists, counsellors, nurses and special needs assistants play a big role in the students well-being. Student wellfare services must have the resources to match their demand.
- Gender sensitivity must be applied at all levels of education. Every child and young person should be treated as an individual and not simply as a representative of his/her sex or any other group he/she might belong to.
- Students with immigrant backgrounds need special support. We need a possibility of longer periods than the standard one year in instruction preparing for basic education. Children preparing for basic education need to have access to special needs education if required.
- Positive discrimination funding must be guaranteed. Schools that take in a large portion of their students from families with low income and education or from families with immigrant backgrounds have an ongoing need for extra funding to cope with their requirements.
- Digitalization in schools has to happen with a pedagogics-first approach. Good digital learning needs practical and appropriate learning materials and teaching. We also need to invest in educating our teachers.
Every child has a right to early childhood education. The subjective right to day care has to be upheld in Helsinki.
- Early childhood education has to be free of charge for children of 3-5 years old.
- A place in day care should also be found close to home. Early childhood education should be given all around the city. A special focus needs to be set on having enough places in day care to match their demand.
- Let’s bring psychologists into early childhood education.
- Smaller group sizes in primary education and early childhood education should be made a priority. One professional in early childhood education should have no more than seven children of three years or more at his/her responsibility and no more than four children younger than three.
- No cuts should be made to contact instruction and qualified teachers at schools. Taking education to work places can not happen at the expense of pedagogics and the quality of teaching.
- We need free-of-charge learning materials to the secondary level.
- Student wellfare services must be available to students at all levels.
- Everybody has the right to lifelong learning. The resources for non-formal adult education have to be secured.
Helsinki – equal city
Helsinki has to be good to all of its residents independent of their age, wealth, sex, ethnicity, invalidity or the place they live. Everybody has to be taken care of from the beginning of life to the very end. Inequality must be countered at all sectors. We can not make politics only at the terms of those who can make their voice heard.
- Services have to be provided close to those who use them. This includes schools, day care, youth centers, libraries and services of culture and sports as well as social services and health care. In stead of centralizing we need an encompassing network of services at all sides of the city.
- All crucial services should be based on public funding. This will secure the decisions about them will remain at the hands of the citizens. The services should not be moved to companies, which would weaken democracy and the transparency of decision-making.
- When new residental areas are built, it has to be done with services in mind. The housing at new areas must be diverse. Apartments should be built in different sizes and private housing should be mixed with public housing.
- Decision making in Helsinki should emphasize participation of the citizens. Citizens must be heard in their own causes and their opinions should be taken into account.
- The expense of housing in Helsinki is a problem to many citizens and a source of poverty. We have to build enough of reasonably priced apartments – the Left Alliance has suggested up to one third of all new apartments built. We also need to raise the goal for amount of total new housing built in Helsinki. An apartment is a fundamental right for everyone.
- The gender impacts of decisions need special attention.
- Everyone has a right to move freely in the city. All public spaces must be accessible, the ticket prices of public transport must remain reasonable and cycleways should be kept up.
- We should extend our solidarity to the whole of humanity and we should counter climate change by making Helsinki a carbon neutral city.
How do we pay for all this?
Actually many of these goals save money in the long run. By properly resourcing our student welfare and special needs education we prevent problems from growing and becoming harder to manage. A healthy city is also better off financially.
However if the need should arise, I am prepared to back up a modest rise of the city tax. This is also the stand taken by the Left Alliance Helsinki. The most recent calculations say that the Helsinki city economy is in a far better shape than has been assumed. The tax income for example has been far better than expected.