Picture a large, well-lit school building with spacious open areas, glass walls and cozy groups of seats here and there. Everyone is in the clear view, but students respect each other’s needs for quiet work time. At Optima this is the daily working environment.
“Learning actually takes place everywhere in the building: in the cafeteria, on the sofas or in any room, for example the workshop or the utility room. We have invested in excellent learning facilities and competent staff and that encourages our students to see their own responsibility in learning. Meanwhile, our entire staff, from teachers to cleaners, have the role of educators in all situations – in the lunchroom as well as in the classroom,” says Rabbe Ede, Director of the education provider Optima, which is owned by the federation of municipalities on the coast of Ostrobothnia.
The success is based on thorough work. The organisation has carried out strategic work to improve the image of their education programmes. They have made sure to have the best conditions for success: competent teachers, good facilities and equipment and good contacts with working life. Up to date Optima has won the title of the best vocational school and also a quality award from the Ministry of Education and Culture.
“At Optima we are educators for the new generations and we focus on a new type of pedagogical thinking. One example is that the students have their own laptops. Typically we don’t distribute ready-made material during lectures, instead everyone is responsible for their own learning. This leads to good cooperation and productive discussions with the teachers. We believe that a positive atmosphere is an important factor in education,” says Tiina Sjölund, Administrative Manager at Optima.
Optima listens carefully to the needs of society to know what to focus on and how to make the education meet the needs of the working life. As a result, their students are in demand in the industry in the region. Two new study programs in warehouse operations and logistics were recently launched in adult education.
“There was so much interest in the warehouse operations study programme that we had to start two parallel courses,” says Rune Nyman, Director of adult education and training. The education is carried out in form of an apprenticeship and the diploma work aims to find areas of development for the company where the student is working.
“What was earlier called theory is now made interesting by involving the student in a practical way that gives practical advantage in working life.”
Business sector: Vocational education
Number of students: 1,600 diploma students; 3,000 course students