Alfred Salmela’s house

Forsbackantie 9 Räyrinki Veteli


Alfred Salmela (1897–1979) was born as the sixth child of a farmer family in the village of Räyrinki, in Veteli, and lived there until his teenage years. He first attended an ambulatory school because his father did not let him attend primary school, which he thought was “intended for the lazy ones”. Despite the hindrances set by his father, Salmela was able to complete further studies at the folk high school of Ilmajoki and the coeducational school of Lapua, and finally at the Jyväskylä Teacher Seminary. Already at the age of 30, he was appointed to the post of counsellor of education at the National Board of General Education (present National Agency for Education). Before his long career at the National Board of General Education, he worked as a primary school teacher on the Karelian Isthmus and as a primary school inspector in Lapland. Salmela retired from the National Board of General Education in 1964.


Salmela participated in developing free municipal lower secondary education (keskikoulu) and a two-year education (kansalaiskoulu) after primary school for pupils who did not continue their studies at the secondary level. The social reforms carried out in the primary school system under his direction were significant especially for families of limited means and in remote districts: free school meals, free school commuting, school libraries and school health care. However, Salmela was critical about the comprehensive school reform launched in the 1960s because he found it might reduce pupils’ possibilities to choose between different subjects and make teaching less practical. According to him, pupils’ individuality should not be made uniform even in the name of equality. Salmela published books related to school administration, wrote textbooks on ethics and such areas as gardening for primary schools, and actively wrote for newspapers. He received the honorary title of professor in 1964.