We received good news in the beginning of autumn 2018 when we were told that Finland was appointed host country for the International Summit on the Teaching Profession 2019. This was something we in the Opetusalan Ammattijärjestö, OAJ, had lobbied, for before, without success. We are proud to contribute to the work of such a highly esteemed group, both on the education side and in providing assistance in arranging the conference.
We started our cooperation on the summit with Minister of Education Sanni Grahn - Laasonen and the officials of the Ministry of Education and Culture with great enthusiasm. The collaboration has been very good and both parties have listened and taken the other into consideration. The collaboration with Education International (EI) and OECD has also worked well and with great concentration on offering our participants, ministers, trade union leaders, observers and others a program that attracts, interests and inspires measures that increase the quality of the education. We have tried to grasp the global problems and the role of education; our future being our children, young people and students, as well as the great importance of leadership for an equal and high-quality education.
In addition, we tried to encourage discussion with good arguments, for an interaction where everyone gets space and where there is a fruitful collaboration between all parties. That is something where we have had success in Finland. Some things that we hope to see in the program have been developed with the OECD and EI for the ISTP.
This whole process has, of course, meant many meetings, countless contacts between those responsible and contacts with former host countries and responsible persons. We have tried to do everything as smoothly as possible, but there are many issues that need to be settled and many aspects that should be considered. The ISTP process is bureaucratic, but it is not hopelessly so, even though many large organizations and parties are involved. I think it is possible to make it less bureaucratic, but it would require more time and more meetings face-to-face, something for which we had neither opportunities nor resources.
We have great expectations for ISTP2019. Everyone who participated in preparations, in addition to their daily work, has been stretched to the limit. This has been a challenge, especially as Finland also will have the EU presidency beginning 1 July 2019 and we also have parliamentary elections coming in mid-April.
This is the first time in ISTP's history that one school level gets its own session. It will be session two - Building strong foundations through innovative pedagogies and practices, which will deal with Early Childhood Education, a school level which received less attention than others during previous ISTP meetings. It is a very conscious strategy and Finland has consistently improved its early childhood education in the last few years in the same direction as the other Nordic countries. Finland strives for higher participation in early childhood education and has consistently administered ECE as part of the education sector.
The third session "Towards sustainable schools" will also be an interesting part of ISTP. This is a real subject for the future, which will certainly receive great attention at ISTP 2019 but also at countless conferences around the world. We must address our serious societal problems in the education sector and promote quality education as the solution. Better education is the way to a better world! There is no time to wait and see.
We need answers to questions like:
- What are the challenges of our times affecting teaching, teacher education and the needs of pupils and students?
- How can teachers make the best use of new technologies in a pedagogically meaningful way to make learning relevant and engaging?
- What strategies and measures are needed to focus on sustainability in schools, and how can system-level policy support this paradigm shift? Do innovative pedagogies hold the potential to find new ways to promote sustainable ways of living?
The first session Leading together will have a lot to offer. Effective education systems require effective leadership at every level, from policy to practice. This session will explore the multidimensional leadership challenges of education systems, as well as policies and practices that strengthen the strategic leadership and management of educational institutions, while, at the same time, fostering collaborative work organizations.
The roles of different actors need to be taken into account, in order to achieve collaborative multi-level leadership, which reconciles political and pedagogical leadership of school heads.
ISTP2019 will offer a rich and interesting program with engaged discussions, good arguments, a pleasant atmosphere and a rich exchange of experience.
We wish to welcome all participants to Finland.
Remember, it can be cold in Finland in mid-March, but we Finns have a warm heart!