A group of underage asylum-seekers will live in Joutseno and study Finnish over the winter. The youth are from Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Their studies are being paid for by the government.


Asylum seekers


The Joutseno folk high school has begun training young asylum-seekers. The youth at the school are aged 16-17. They have come to Finland in September from Somalia, Iraq and Arghanistan – all of them came to the country unsupervised.


The Joutseno school has hired five new employees to prepare for the coming of asylum-seekers. One of them is the assigned teacher of the group of boys and four are working as leisure time coordinators. An adult supervisor accompanies the teens around the clock.

Positive welcome


The group of 15 teenagers began their studies in Joutseno on Monday, principal Ulla Huhtilainen says.


«Even though we were well prepared, I admit I was a little anxious on Sunday night,» she says.


The students’ schedule is rigorous; teaching begins at 9 am and no tardiness is allowed. The group prepares their own meals over the weekends and holidays.


«The start has been great. The school staff and other students have reacted positively to the newcomers. And we’ve been contacted by several locals who say they want to help,» Huhtilainen says.

New home in sights


One 16-year-old from Kabul, Afghanistan has the best English skills of the bunch.


«English is easy for me. I think learning Finnish will take longer though,» he says.


In answer to questions about his future the teen said he hopes to live a good life.


«I hope I can stay in Finland indefinitely. I also wish for my family to join me in Finland so we can be together,» he said.


If a youth living at the school receives a refusal-of-entry decision, their education will be interrupted. Huhtilainen says that the studies carried out at Joutseno folk high school are nonetheless of significance.


«If nothing else, we hope that a positive experience here in Finland and at our school will remain a lasting memory for many for years to come,» says Huhtilainen.