CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FIT FOR PURPOSE EDUCATION MODEL Lagos State Education Summit 2022
Your Excellency, Governor Sanwo-Olu (jos paikalla),
Your Excellency, Deputy Governor Hamzat (on paikalla),
Honourable Commissioner Adefisayo,
Excellencies, friends and colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
It’s a real honor to speak at the Lagos State Education Summit today.
I am happy to be back on the African continent in my current position, as ambassador for education. It is my first visit to Nigeria and to Lagos, the vibrant economic hub of West Africa.
I am delighted to share with you the key aspects of the success behind Finland’s education system. I believe that through sharing of best practices we can learn from each other, build partnerships and find common solutions to learning and how to equip our youth with the skills needed for the future. I am also looking forward to learning from you on how you are tackling the challenges of the future of education.
I am very pleased to note that there is already a strong partnership between Finland and Lagos state in the education sector. Finnish education institutions and companies have been closely involved in developing the Comprehensive School Pilot Programme, and discussions are ongoing on broader cooperation, reaching also beyond the education sector. The memorandum of understanding between the Lagos Ministry of Education and the City of Tampere was an important step, touching upon other key areas of the Smart Lagos agenda. Close contacts have been established also at the government level. This is an excellent foundation to build upon.
In Finland, we value education highly as an investment into a well-functioning, equal and competitive society. It has enabled us to rise from one of the poorest countries in the world and become one the world’s wealthiest nations in 100 years.
We have a shared understanding that people are the nation’s most important asset and therefore the Finnish society highly values education.
Equal education and high quality teaching at schools are at the core of our education system’s success. We consider quality education a constitutional right, not a privilege. Our public education system guarantees equal opportunities for learning and well-being for all students. Leaving no one behind is at the core of our education system. Education is therefore free at all levels of education from pre-primary to higher education.
Teachers are the backbone of Finnish education system. All teachers are required to have a Master’s degree. Teacher education programs are popular and only the very best
students are admitted. The success of Finland’s education system is based on research-based teacher training.
This all means that the society trusts and values the teaching profession. Teachers have a lot of professional autonomy in their classrooms; they can decide themselves for example the teaching methods and materials they use.
Children’s well-being is looked at in a holistic way and learners are at the core of activities. Good learning results have been achieved with quite a short school day, little amount of homework and at average cost. We want to maximize the potential of every student and promote the joy of learning. Free learning materials, school meals and health care, as well as guidance and counselling services are available to all students. This has proven to have a positive impact on learning.
We emphasize new and innovative learning environments, as learning does not only happen in the classroom. For this purpose, our schools and teachers collaborate increasingly not only with each other but also with the surrounding society and community. This helps to ensure the relevance of education – and that children learn for life and work. Problem solving, critical thinking, media literacy and intercultural dialogue are the core competences needed for a sustainable future.
The good results of the Finnish education system were not achieved overnight. It has taken decades and many reforms to take the Finnish educational system to where it is now.
To remain relevant, both the school system and learning methods must change to keep up with the changing world.
We need to ensure that all citizens are equipped with future skills. In Finland, we are investing heavily in continuous learning, science and innovation. We have decided to raise the educational level of society as a whole, as this is the key in boosting equity, wellbeing and competitiveness.
The world of work, including TVET (technical and vocational education) also needs to be part of the solution to provide young people both in Europe and in Africa labor market oriented jobs.
I believe that it is of particular importance to invest in teachers: their competences, working conditions, wellbeing and the attractiveness of the profession. Teachers need to be supported and valued as pedagogical experts. In Finland, the autonomy and creativity of our highly educated and motivated teachers was a great asset during the pandemic, when schools and teachers quickly needed to adapt their work.
The conditions for learning have proved to be an important element of the Finnish school system: this has meant Investments in health, nutrition, pupil welfare services and support for learning. In Finland, over 70-year history of free school meals has made a major impact on equity in education and more broadly in society. Today, Finland works with countries from North to South on building a Global School Meals Coalition, which aims to ensure every child the opportunity for a healthy meal, every day in school by 2030 (twenty-thirty).
Finally, flexible education systems tend to be more resilient, as they are more responsive. In Finland, our system has no dead ends, as we want to ensure everyone the opportunity to always continue studies. Green and digital transitions require that everyone will be ready to learn new things throughout life career, to reskill and upskill.
I believe it is more important than ever to exchange and share experiences globally. That is why I am so happy to speak here today. I think that we should use every opportunity to showcase the power of education to transform societies. I believe Finland – one hundred years ago, one of the poorest countries in the world, and now a thriving welfare state, ranked as the happiest country in the world for the fifth year in a row – is a good example of this transformation.
In Finland, we have established an entire ecosystem from teachers to research institutions, public and private sector actors collaborating. Many actors offer top quality pedagogical, system-wide and policy planning expertise and solutions also internationally and are ready to engage in concrete projects.
I hope that there will be many more concrete opportunities for education sector collaboration between Finland and Lagos.
I am confident that our Embassy in Nigeria will support you in this journey.