Children sitting in classroom
Access to education is key in the fight against poverty. Photo from Eritrea: Jukka Tulivuori

NIRAS advises how Finland can help address the global learning crisis

NIRAS Finland issues its MFA-commissioned report - Stepping up Finland's Global Role in Education - on possible ways in which Finnish resources and knowledge can be used to address challenges to education

11. Sep 2018

The lack of basic education is a major driver of poverty worldwide. Without basic education, people lack the ability to escape poverty and struggle in their daily lives. School enrollment rates are often targeted in development efforts for this reason, but despite enrollment rates climbing worldwide, a learning crisis is emerging. By 2030, about half of the world’s children won’t have access to basic education, despite being enrolled and present for at least their primary schooling. The reason: schooling isn’t the same as learning, and the quality of education in some countries is such that most of their children finish school while still functionally illiterate.

The quality of education has not progressed in lockstep with access to schooling ... today much of the developing world faces a learning crisis in basic education. Despite spending years in school, students are not gaining even basic literacy and numeracy.

Stepping Up Finland’s Global Role in Education

With its reputation for educational excellence, Finland has the knowledge and experience needed to address the learning crisis. But in the face of such a large challenge, the question is how? What actions can Finland take to have a positive effect on the learning crisis?

Dr Ritva Reinikka, Team Leader, presents NIRAS' recommendations, outlined in the report

Finding Finland’s Way Forward 

In effort to answer this question, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Finland commissioned NIRAS Finland Oy to create a report, Stepping Up Finland’s Global Role in Education, on possible ways in which Finnish resources and knowledge can be used to address global challenges to education. Using interviews, focus group meetings, surveys, and document reviews, the NIRAS team - Dr. Ritva Reinikka (Team Leader), Professor Hannele Niemi, and Mr. Jukka Tulivuori - made several recommendations including that MFA Finland:

  • establishes a multi-stakeholder steering group comprising, among others, the Finnish National Agency for Education, civil society organisations working in education, universities, Education Finland, which focuses on education exports, and other relevant stakeholders;
  • takes a stronger global role in education while doing more to prioritise education in its development activities;
  • finds ways to deploy Finnish human resources in education and development to where they’re needed most; and
  • increases Finland’s budget allocation to aid for education to EUR 100 million per year over the next four years.

The learning crisis thus threatens to divide the world into two: one half where young people have access to a good education system which gives them multiple skills, while the other half enters an education system that fails them completely.

Stepping Up Finland’s Global Role in Education

Apart from education, there are few other global themes where Finland has so much to offer for international cooperation in terms of expertise, knowledge and experience. The learning crisis warrants the proposed investments and Finland’s stronger contribution. 

The contents of this report have been noticed by the Finnish press, including major media outlets such as Helsingin Sanomat, Kauppalehti, Taloussanomat, and Hufvustadsbladet. The proposals in Stepping up Finland's Global Role in Education will be discussed in Parliament this autumn. You can read the report here.


Photo @Avel Chukanov