After completing Helsinki Summer School in 2015, I had a strong feeling towards Finnish education system. The course intensively introduced us to the system, and we were fortunate enough to spend a day in Puistolan Peruskoulu, meeting teachers, pupils and the leadership team in that comprehensive school. I graduated from the course with a strong determination to go home and work on improving Khalifah Model School, both primary and secondary, to genuinely become a model school.
The idea is simple.
We must protect our children at schools from everyone whom their interest is not the children’s education and learning. Bureaucrats, politicians and business people must stay away from schools. If they want to do something, they should only give, and not taking anything for their interest. Teachers must be allowed to focus on their passion that is teaching and nothing else. The culture of trust must become the backbone of teaching professionalism, where monitoring and reporting have to be minimised near to none. When children come to school they have to be assisted to feel secured and happy, love learning and prepare themselves to become lifelong learners.
I wanted to. But I didn’t know how. I know Finland is good. But it is too good to be true, when Pasi Sahlberg’s Finnish Lessons are taken as my window to observe.
Now I have some idea. And that made me happy. My wife encouraged me to pursue my study in education so my work can be based on a strong foundation. Even though the University of Helsinki granted me 6 ects from the course, the university does not have intake in 2016. EDISO is cancelled until further notice.
I switched to another options. Jyväskylä, Tampere, Turku, Rovaniemi’s Lapland and many other universities offer good international master degrees in education, but I prefer these two courses offered by the University of Oulu. My options are between Learning, Education and Technology (LET), or Education and Globalisation (EdGlo). But based on the current need at Khalifah Model School (Secondary), I have to choose LET so that I will become someone who understand education and learning, plus how technology can assist.
Before submitting the document, I met Dr. Nurkhamimi Zainuddin in USIM, tried to learn intensively from him the current trend in education and technology. He evaluated LET program structure and shared his feedback on the program. I owed him a lot for helping me to understand many aspects of research and application and he became my referee for the application.
I had problem with my documents for submission. Jordanian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur refused to stamp on each page of the documents as specifically instructed. After negotiation, I gave up and made the craziest trip to Helsinki, to submit my document in person. In Helsinki I managed to certify my document at the Public Notary and submitted everything just before the closing date arrived. The temperature was -15ºC but worth everything.
I had a strong belief in my heart that I will secure a place in the program. I have to. Especially when Finland announced that 2016 will be the last intake for ‘no tuition fee’ scheme regarding non EU candidates like me. It’s either this year or never.
When my name is shortlisted for the interview, I was afraid to take the risk of not being offered. I have to make sure I get my place and for that, I made another unbelievable trip straight to Oulu to attend the interview in person. It was a very long journey. Throughout the trip I keep praying to Allah to help me with the interview, hoping it will be my major turning point in life.
Oulu was still freezing even in April. Snow was gradually melting and it was amazing to see how ice blocks floating around Oulu delta. I attended the interview with my proposal, focusing on the pedagogical usage of technology to eliminate indoctrination from faith-based curricular. The 40 minutes interview was amazing and I was very pleased with the committees. They’re very friendly and showed genuine interest to everything I said.
I returned home after the interview, with even a stronger belief that Inshaallah, this is it!
Alhamdulillah, a week later, I received the offer from the University of Oulu and I have been accepted to Autumn 2016 intake. Alhamdulillah!
After a very long process with visa, insurance, finance and passing over all my tasks to my team at KMSS, I left the country on the 14th of August 2016. Inshaallah my wife and kids will join me later on in October. We left everything and let go whatever we had, except the house, to make this plan into success.
The hijrah to Finland is a combination of many good reasons. I want to study, my wife has the same intention, and I also hope my kids will have a new experience living in a foreign land and hopefully can also benefit from Finnish education system during our stay in Oulu.
Hasrizal bin Abdul Jamil
LET, Oulun Yliopisto