The Master of Science in Education Management (MScEM) students and staff from Strathmore University had the opportunity to visit Finland in April 2018. The almost-tangible yet expected excitement gripped us when we arrived at Helsinki International Airport. Where we were welcomed by Joni, our contact person. The temperature reading outside the airport was at 2OC, giving us a clear reminder that we were in one of Europe’s Nordic countries.
Finland’s education system is ranked amongst best globally. Teachers from different parts of the world visit the country to learn about their outstanding system. The MScEM team were driven by curiosity about just what it was that sets Finland’s schooling system apart from the Kenyan model.
Our learning began at the Finnish Parliament, where we met Maria Hoyssa, a member of the Finnish Parliamentary Committee for the Future. She took us through the committee’s role and explained that the committee served as a think-tank for important long-term issues identified by the Finnish Government. Maria further described how reports informed the committee members on their deliberations about matters affecting future development research, as well as the impact of technological development. In effect, the committee is tasked with curbing apparent and not-so apprent short-sightedness by the Finnish Government. The subsequent discussions that ensued brought us to our familiar Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development.
From there we proceeded onto a visit to a public school that left our Strathmore team in awe marveling at the well-maintained facilities, staff commitment, and the overall friendliness of our new hosts. One clear highlight that emerged through our discussions with the Finnish teachers was their obscure concept of private schooling. The Finnish Government allocates sufficient resources for the government run schools creating low need for private learning institutions.
At the University of Turku, We were privileged to meet the Juha Kaskinen, the Director of the Finland Futures (Studies) Research Centre (FFRC), together with other students and members of staff who made presentations on future studies. The FFRC is a centre dedicated to research on possible futures, which is an emerging field of academic research in the Nordic countries.
At the Centre of futures studies
At the university’s Faculty of Education, we were given the opportunity to make a presentation to explain the Kenyan education system to our hosts. We then took this opportunity to show what Strathmore University has to offer. Here we engaged in detailed discussions about the Finnish education system and the training of teachers locally. The following are key areas that made the Finnish system stand out as a model of excellence were the following:
Equal opportunity availed to every child;
The training and hence availability of competent teachers;
Student counseling and support in learning;
The commitment to evaluation;
The use of a flexible system based on empowerment and immense cooperation.
The emphasis on health education cannot be overlooked. Physical education teachers felt that our visit would be incomplete if we did not view their state of the art indoor sports facilities.
Our whole experience was further enriched with visits made to the museum, castle and the enjoyable evening get-togethers. A Special thanks goes out to Dr. Alfred Kitawi for the Networking and a sincere appreciation to all the students who made the trip possible, not forgetting a dedicated lot of staff-members. God bless you all for making the trip what it was.
– Dr. Magdalene Dimba, Director, MScEM