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Father, mother and son walking away from the protest of daycare workers at the Parliament Building in Helsinki on April 25, 2018. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

They simply can’t accept it.

So, on Wednesday afternoon, people working in kindergartens with various backgrounds in education walked out from various daycare centers in Uusimaa region.

About 2,000 gathered in a protest in front of the Parliament Building. Many were young, in their mid-20s or 30s, afraid of losing their jobs in 2030,  if the government proposal is accepted. In the proposal, the number of kindergarten teachers with a university degree would be doubled in 22 years.

“I am so glad that it didn’t rain today, it looked pretty bad in the morning,” said one of the speakers standing on the steps of the parliament in front of the disappointed crowd.

“It doesn’t matter!” a woman screamed. “For us, it has been raining every day!”

“For us, it has been raining every day!”

In the proposed law, only one-third of the personnel would be allowed to be childcare workers. Currently, about 60 percent of the personnel are childcare workers. “In practice, the new law would lead to a tremendous cut in the number of childcare workers,” said the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare JHL in a bulletin.

According to the Ministry of Education and Culture, the one-third philosophy would be applied to the whole personnel working in early childhood education. “One-third would be teachers, one-third would be Bachelors of Social Services and one-third would be childcare workers,” the ministry said in a bulletin.

According to JHL, the new law would accept kindergarten teachers only from university backgrounds, but the Ministry of Education and Culture gives us the specifics. “One could work as a teacher or as a Bachelor of Social Services with the current education provided by the degree of Bachelor of Social Services.” So, those with a degree in a polytechnic as the law comes into effect could still be teachers, but those who would like to become teachers in the future would have to apply for a university.

“The new law will ensure the quality of early childhood education,” said Minister of Education and Culture Sanni-Grahn Laasonen. The government has allocated 28 million euros to this. This is the strength of the Finnish education system, that we have teachers who are well-educated and professionals, and this is what we want to reinforce with the new law. The government does not develop the early childhood education based on discussions between different trade unions. Instead, we develop strongly by thinking what’s best for the children.”