Research co-operation with universities

Viittakivi Oy and the Savonlinna School of Teacher Education started co-operating to support and research the Savonlinna reception centre’s asylum seekers’ integration on 1 January 2016. During 2016 and 2017, students of primary education, kindergarten education, crafts and home economics have taught approximately 600 sessions to asylum seekers. People have attended these classes over 1,500 times. This has given the university students a unique opportunity to understand and comprehend the problems of multiculturalism on a practical level. The co-operation has covered all levels of studies from candidate level Master’s theses all the way to professional researchers.

The KOTO: Integration with skills and art project was a main project with Southern Savo cultural funding in 2016. It was led by professor Liisa Karlsson from the Savonlinna campus of the University of Eastern Finland. In the project, for example, the effects of co-operative education and asylum seekers’ children’s ways of talking and telling stories were studied. The research material concerning children has been gathered using a highly regarded method used ‘to encourage story telling’ by asking them to tell fairy tales, and can be regarded as a unique experiment in Finland and across Europe.

In the Savonlinna reception centre, we have also studied asylum seekers’ integration into Finnish pre-integration education. As many as 181 refugees over 17 years of age took part in this study. The main focus has been asylum seekers’ socio-demographic backgrounds, psychological well-being, participation in pre-integration education, reason for not participation and, for example, the contents of the pre-integration education. An intermediate research report has been published Akkulturaatio – Perhe, työ ja opiskelu. Elämässä tärkeänä pidetyt asiat ja ylpeydenaiheet yli 17-vuotiaille turvapaikanhakijoille (Hartonen 2016). Education coordinator Ville Hartonen of the Savonlinna reception centre runs the research concerning asylum seekers’ integration into pre-integration education.

In autumn 2016,Viittakivi started a Religion in the Reception Centre project in co-operation with the University of Helsinki’s Theological department. In connection with this project, Viittakivi is taking part in project called Developing a culture and religious consideration sensitive learning and guidance environment together with the University of Helsinki, University of Jyväskyä and City of Espoo. Also, in autumn 2016 we started planning an Everyday life in the reception centre project with the University of Helsinki’s Theological department and the University of Eastern Finland’s Social Studies department.