The Finnish primary school system currently has just two dozen or so Islam teachers for a Muslim student population of between 8,000 and 9,000 students. One educator believes that the specialist teacher crunch is due to immigrant-background candidates lacking the Finnish language skills to be admitted to university teacher training programmes.
Education officials believe that there are many reasons for the scarcity of teachers to instruct primary school students in the fundamentals of Islam. Pekka Iivonen, a counsellor with the National Agency for Education, said that immigrants who would like to be teachers are finding it difficult to pass university entrance exams.
"Language skill is a major issue. People speaking languages other than Finnish have difficulty getting into teacher training. This means that the number of teachers is growing more slowly than the number of [migrant] students," Iivonen noted.