Director General of the Finnish National Agency for Education, Mr Olli-Pekka Heinonen, has visited Shanghai and Hong Kong.
In China there is an ever-growing interest towards the “Finnish education miracle”, further fueled by the recent high-level visits between the two countries. This visit by Mr. Heinonen – who was traveling together with a business delegation of Finnish education technology companies and education experts – was aiming at solidifying education cooperation between Finland and China on many levels. The delegation’s visit was a continuation to the visit Finland’s education minister Ms Sanni Grahn-Laasonen made to China in autumn 2017. The visit was part of the operations for Education Finland, a national government-level programme aimed at boosting Finnish education export.
The delegation comprised twelve companies and organisations representing various branches of Finnish educational solutions: learning environments, digital learning solutions, education tourism, learning contents, early childhood education and care, and higher education.
As a new approach the Finnish organisations (in addition to both private and public sector organisations, such as Shanghai Education Council and Hong Kong Education Bu) also met Chinese educational investors.
As a part of the busy three-day schedule in Shanghai, educational collaboration between Finland and China reached an important milestone: 22 upper secondary vocational students from Shanghai Commercial Accounting School received a Finnish vocational education certificate after completing a study module in Marketing Communications. Mr. Heinonen awarded certificates to the students. The certificate was the first of its kind in China.
The study module in Marketing Communications forms a part of the Finnish Vocational Qualification in Business and Administration. The training was carried out by Jyväskylä Educational Consortium Gradia in co-operation with EduCluster Finland, an education expertise organisation. Export of Finnish vocational qualifications has been possible since 2017, when 11 Finnish education providers received a pilot license to provide qualifications outside Europe. Gradia was one of the licensed education providers.
“Finnish education has a great reputation in China. Our countries share a long track-record of fruitful collaboration in educational issues. I am pleased to be here to witness how also Chinese investments in Finnish vocational qualifications are bearing concrete results. This is a major milestone for Finland and Finnish educational business,” said Director General Heinonen.
The Finnish vocational qualification programme received excellent feedback from Chinese students. In particular, they enjoyed the experience of learning together in teams, having close dialogue with teachers and learning by doing.
“What was new to the Chinese students was learning outside of school, and the fact that evaluation was based on practical competence demonstrations and an evaluation discussion,” said teacher Johanna Ärling from Gradia.
The investment in education in Shanghai was Gradia and EduCluster Finland’s second education export collaboration in vocational qualifications. The first qualification programme was launched in late 2016, and is currently being implemented in Qatar. In Qatar, local school staff are being trained as learning assistants, in accordance with Finnish vocational qualification requirements. The graduation ceremony will take place in May 2018.
In Shanghai, Mr. Heinonen also visited for example the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission. For the business delegation there was a separate pitching event with Chinese investors interested in education business.
Sources: Consulate General of Finland in Shanghai, Finnish National Agency for Education