Finland could have a stronger role in addressing the learning crisis in developing countries

NEWS FROM: um.fi / Press releases, 16.8.2018

Finland’s competence in the education sector is of the highest standard around the world. This should also be more strongly reflected in the priorities and funding of development cooperation, a new report suggests.

An increasingly larger number of children in developing countries have had the opportunity to attend school over the past few decades. However, the learning outcomes remain so poor that international operators in the development sector, such as the World Bank and UNESCO, are already talking about a global learning crisis. If no change can be achieved, around half of the children and young people in the world will end their schooling without basic skills in literacy and numeracy in 2030.

Finland represents the opposite end of the spectrum: it has one of the most respected education systems in the world that serves as a source of inspiration far and wide. Completed under the direction of Dr. Ritva Reinikka, the report, entitled “Stepping Up Finland’s Global Role in Education”, urges Finland to take a more active role in addressing the learning crisis in developing countries.

“The demand for our expertise is immense. Finland’s expertise attracts a large amount of interest and we are talked about on international forums, but we are often not involved in these discussions ourselves,” says Reinikka.

As a solution, the report recommends strategic cooperation directed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the establishment of a multi-stakeholder steering group. Finland should actively seek participation in international cooperation networks, such the Global Partnership for Education. The amount of funding should also be increased. According to the report, education should become a priority theme of development policy. Experts in the education sector should be provided with pathways to participate in the mechanisms of development cooperation and gain experience from developing countries.

“Finland is an education superpower. Based on the excellent results of our education system and our world reputation, it is justified to make the theme a more central part of our development policy, both in terms of content and financing,” says Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen.

The report praises programmes where development cooperation has been used for supporting the entire education system of partner countries. Finland’s long-term support has yielded significant results in, for example, Ethiopia, a country with a population of one hundred million.

“Our education system is based on equal opportunities and competent teachers. These strengths of ours are also of interest in developing countries where the learning crisis is the most severe,” says Minister Virolainen.

Published on Thursday, the report was prepared as a commission of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs by a working group consisting of Dr. Reinikka, Professor Hannele Niemi and Mr. Jukka Tulivuori.

Report on the Ministry for Foreign Affairs website: um.fi/publications

Further information: Satu Pehu-Voima, Senior Adviser, Development Policy, education, tel. +358 295 351 886.

Original press release link