Sharing with Andi, An Early Child Educator in Norway
In the commemoration of the International Day of Education on the last 24 January 2021, we had the opportunity to connect with Andi, an Indonesian native and an early childhood educator on the northern side of Norway.
When his first visit to Norway, he had no plan to reside or work as he just came to meet his friend. Then, he decided to live in Norway afterward.
“I attended the Norwegian language course provided by the government, and I started to find a job in six months,” Andi said.
He applied to be a teacher in a kindergarten nearby. Although he had limited knowledge and ability to speak Norwegian as his course prepared him for daily conversation, he thought this was the opportunity to learn and improve his Norwegian language.
“The headmaster asked my motivation to apply as I had no background in early childhood education. I said I love working with children and I would like the opportunity to learn the language while working with the children,” Andi remembered his first interview before being a teacher.
His employee granted him three months of probation and assigned him to a department for children aged 0-3 years, which quite supportive of his language skills at that time.
Andi absorbed and learned many important things during his work as a teacher. He reflected that early childhood education plays important role in social order in Norway. It demonstrates social competence, democracy, and solidarity.
“At aged 1, children have been taught various practices in a democracy such as queuing or waiting a turn. At aged 3, children can express themselves and their feelings directly. As a teacher, we assign to catch that without bothering the children when they play. The children can express themselves when they want to say no and respect privacy. You can be yourself,” Andi explained.
Moreover, diversity has been taught from an early age. The government encourages immigrants to work at kindergarten in their first year. The aim is to introduce diversity to children.
“We also create a festive list of children in kindergarten. For example, a child came from Palestine. We list his/her origin celebration day to celebrate it together. It does not mean when they live in Norway, they forget where they came from,” he added.
All culture is respected with upholding democracy, honesty, and equality.
Many people who move to a different cultural and social environment may go through different periods of feelings or commonly referred to as “culture shock” when they first arrive in a new country. New people, sights, and customs can be strange.
“For instance, domestic and care work can be equally shared among women and men here. That is something strange for those who came from strong patriarchal culture. And this is what we teach since the beginning about equality,” Andi said.
One of his “culture shock” moment was a work culture that implements well of work-life balance. It was different from his past experiences before moving to Norway.
After two years working in the department for children aged 0-3, Andi moved to another department for children aged 3-6 as his ability to interact and communicate in Norwegian has been well.
He shares his stories and experiences in Norway through his social media platform on Twitter and Instagram. He writes his social media posts in Indonesian to maintain the engagement with the Indonesian. It turns out his social media platforms are followed by many fellow kindergarten teachers in Indonesia.
“My social media posts have reached many kindergarten teachers in Indonesia. We get connected and arrange meetings and calls in zoom, teams, and google meet to share the experience on how early childhood education is implemented in Norway. Moreover, I also had sessions with Indonesian kindergarten children to show them around what Norway looks like and broaden their horizons,” Andi said.
Andi treasures his contribution no matter how small or big it is. Once he showed the children how to cross the road in the zebra cross. The children noticed that the driver immediately stopped their car. They were amazed at the behaviour as the driver follows the rule and respect the pedestrian.
He added, “I want to motivate Indonesian children through the virtual sessions that their teachers arrange. We never know that one day what the children will be. Maybe they will be the next president or minister in the future. I want them to experience good and positive things at their early age (0-5 years) that will affect them in decision-making for many people when they grow up. The children smile is priceless.”
Andi feels lucky to be an early childhood educator in Norway. He can understand how early childhood education in Norway shapes children's character towards democracy and equality.
He dreams Indonesian will be able to enjoy accessible and quality education for all across Indonesia. He hopes that teachers in Indonesia will have a decent and good quality of life to value their contribution to the next generation.