The first graduation ceremony

The first training programs of the Kalevala Training Center started running in September 2020. Students of information technology, hairdressing and tailoring degrees started their studies.

The students' enthusiasm and expectations were high. Many hairdressing and tailoring degree students dream of starting their own company. Local teachers took care of the content and implementation of the courses.

The hairdressing and tailoring degree students got practice clients shortly after starting. Practical customer work has been the preferred way to learn for many, and real commissioned work has created a small additional challenge. Sewing students have made school uniforms, dresses and alterations. Hairdressing students, on the other hand, have done various treatments for customers, hair washing, hairstyles, as well as braiding.

The education level of the students created a challenge from the very beginning: some of the girls had not attended school at all and some had already dropped out of elementary school. Their reading and writing skills are therefore weak. This required a lot of ability from the teachers to adapt to the situation and shape the program so that everyone stayed involved in the theory sections as well.

The IT students went through basic computer usage, after which they quickly moved on to Microsoft software. They implemented at least one student project with each software. For example, they wrote a job application letter, designed a business card, gave a presentation, practiced spreadsheets with an accounting example, and designed advertising materials.

The first to graduate were the hairdressing and IT students at the end of November – 14 hairdressers and 12 IT students. We organized a ceremony and invited the students' parents. The students also arranged the program numbers by category, with which the guests could hear what the students had learned.

The first months of the Kalevala Training Center have taught us a lot. We have received a lot of new ideas about how the operation could be developed and in which direction we want to take the whole training center. In particular, support for disadvantaged students and securing study opportunities must be ensured. Our students are also threatened by both forced marriages and the challenges brought by poverty. Our most important task is to do our best to ensure that all students who have started the education are able to attend classes and complete the course on schedule. Besides that, the general well-being of the students is of course a top priority.

We also want to develop more opportunities for students after their studies. We have already organized CV writing classes and job search support for graduated students as an extra course. In addition, the teachers of the courses have organized internships and opportunities for the students to get to know companies. Soon we will also start a new course set on entrepreneurship, where students who have already graduated and are interested in starting their own company can join.

There is room for improvement, but basically it has been a great pleasure to observe the students' learning process and enthusiastic attitude towards education. Every time I visit the classrooms, the students are excited to present their work and new skills. Their development has been amazing!

Now, after the first graduation ceremony, it's good to move forward even more experienced. The first group of the tailoring degree will continue for another three months, but the other groups of IT and hairdressing students have already started their first courses.

Follow the everyday life and progress of the Kalevala Training Center - and you will hear how the Finnish jewelry not only brings joy and good mood to its wearer, but also tangible good in a small Kenyan village thousands of kilometers away.

Read more about Kalevala Training Center news.

Article author: Viola Wallenius, Makongen, Kenya