New type of support for evaluating the quality of Sámi early childhood education and care – with the aim of strengthening and maintaining the linguistic and cultural heritage of Sámi

Early childhood education Virpi Pietiläinen

For the first time, the National Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) is developing an evaluation tool for evaluating the quality of Sámi early childhood education and care (ECEC). The tool is being tested in six municipalities in different parts of Finland that organise Sámi ECEC. This will be the first time that nationally standardised evaluation tools are used for Sámi ECEC. The aim of the evaluation tool is to harmonise the quality evaluation of Sámi ECEC and support personnel and management in the evaluation. Sámi ECEC plays a key role in the transmission, strengthening and revitalisation of Sámi languages and cultural heritage.

The new evaluation tool allows ECEC staff to evaluate their own activities in the implementation of Sámi ECEC pedagogy. The evaluation focuses on the key themes of Sámi ECEC, such as supporting the Sámi language development and learning of children, the connection to nature, traditional livelihoods and community orientation. The tool has been developed in cooperation with Sámi ECEC personnel and experts appointed by the Sámi Parliament. The development of the tool has been carried out with the aim of ensuring that its contents comply with national legislation and guidelines governing ECEC. The tool is available in Finnish as well as in all Sámi languages.

– The evaluation tool has the potential to promote the implementation of high-quality and equal early childhood education and care for children and families participating in Sámi early childhood education and care. It is worth highlighting that the development work is being carried out in close cooperation with the Sámi community and that the evaluation is focused on the core contents and values of Sámi pedagogy, says Senor Advisor Sivi Harkoma.

In the past, municipalities have evaluated their Sámi ECEC independently using various tools. In the future, however, the evaluation tool will make it possible for evaluation to be uniformly planned and implemented throughout Finland in all municipalities offering Sámi ECEC.

Sámi ECEC is developed in cooperation with municipalities and the Sámi Parliament

The piloting of the Sámi ECEC evaluation tool commenced in October 2022. The aim of the pilot is to test how well the form included in the evaluation tool supports the evaluation and development of Sámi ECEC. In addition to this, the pilot involves testing how material collected from different ECEC units and municipalities can be reported and used to support the self-evaluation of personnel.

The pilot is being carried out in cooperation with municipalities that offer Sámi ECEC and the Sámi Parliament. For participants, such as ECEC organisers, managers and personnel, the pilot provides an opportunity to develop quality evaluation with the support of FINEEC, as responses and feedback collected from personnel will be used to further develop the evaluation tool. In addition, the piloting of the evaluation will help the Sámi Parliament to develop Sámi ECEC. A report on the implementation of the pilot and personnel feedback will be published in spring 2023.

The Valssi quality evaluation system provides tools and support for quality evaluation

The Sámi ECEC evaluation tool will eventually be integrated into the digital quality evaluation system Valssi, which is currently under development. Valssi is a national quality evaluation system designed to support the evaluation tasks of ECEC organisers and service providers. The development of Valssi is part of FINEEC’s national evaluation task, the aim of which is to promote the functioning of the education system and support continuous development in ECEC. The development of Valssi is funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture. For more information on Valssi, please visit FINEEC’s website (in Finnish).

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