“Nopo” catches dropouts

For many young people, the transition from junior high school (yläkoulu) to secondary education is difficult, and the risk of dropping out is high. Oulu has launched a pilot project to solve this problem. In the project, 9th graders in need of support can use a transition phase student counsellor, called a “nopo”.

Normal student counsellors have limited time available to help a large amount of students. “Nopos” Merja Airaksinen and Päivi Sarkkinen believe that “nopos” are trusted precisely because they have time for students.

– At first we were unsure whether we would gain the students’ trust, but we achieved it surprisingly quickly, Merja Airaksinen says.

The “nopos” have provided guidance to 50 young people in a year and a half. Their support needs have varied a lot. The “nopos” have helped the young people to apply for places of study, and others they have even brought them from their homes to school. In some cases, they have also co-operated with the youths’ parents.

Of the students Sarkkinen guided, only two were left without a place of study, and only one of Airaksinen’s. Airaksinen is certain that at least one of the students she guided would definitely have been left without a place of study without “nopo” guidance.