Team Finland Knowledge network expanded to four new countries

Ministry for Foreign Affairs 17.10.2019 14.12
News item

In September, the Team Finland Knowledge network consisting of specialists in the field of higher education and research expanded to four new countries. The new Senior Specialists began their work at the Finnish embassies in the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, India and Russia. In addition, a new Ambassador for Education Exports Marjaana Sall started working at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in September.

People mentioned in the article together. The new Team Finland Knowledge –Senior Specialists Sari Eriksson (left), Jaakko Skantsi, Iina Soiri and Mika Tirronen. ©OKM/Katarina Koch Jaakko Skantsi: This cooperation is a learning opportunity both for Finland and for the United Arab Emirates

Jaakko Skantsi has assumed office in Abu Dhabi, but his area of responsibility covers not only the United Arab Emirates but also other states bordering the Persian Gulf. Skantsi expects to see various actors representing the Finnish education sector at the World Exhibition 2020 to be organised in Dubai.

“The World Exhibition will help us get a better hold of the local education and science policy situation and find new opportunities for cooperation. In addition, we can expand our networks in the field of education exports and explore opportunities for Finnish actors in the United Arab Emirates and the Persian Gulf region in general,” Skantsi says in an interview (in finnish) by the Ministry of Education and Culture.   

Skantsi knows the United Arab Emirates well, as he has worked there as a teacher and a mentor in a project of EduCluster Finland at the beginning of the decade.

In addition to comprehensive school education, Skantsi estimates that there is also potential for cooperation in the fields of special needs education and higher education and research. He thinks that this cooperation will be a learning opportunity both for Finland and for the United Arab Emirates.

Iina Soiri: I want people to see that Africa has potential, not only challenges

Iina Soiri, who has worked in Africa already for 20 years, has just assumed office as a Senior Specialist in Pretoria, South Africa. Soiri has extensive experience of working with African affairs, and she has worked as the Director of the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala and in development policy tasks at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, for example.

“I consider that my work is, first and foremost, networking with the local operators, marketing of the Finnish education sector, and exploration of local needs,” Soiri says.

She says that Africa has a great deal of potential for research cooperation required for solving global problems, for example. Although Finland’s cooperation with southern Africa has long traditions, Soiri says that there is an increasing need for genuine partnership in the future.

“We must be able to build cooperation that supports African people's own work. We must also recognise their own knowledge and skills, which are often innovative and insightful,” Soiri says.

Mika Tirronen: India provides top-level partners for Finnish researchers and universities

Mika Tirronen, who now works in New Delhi, has earlier experience from China, for example, where he worked as an expert in a Team Finland Knowledge pilot project. 

In addition to teacher education, Indians are interested in the Finnish early childhood education and care system, comprehensive school education, and vocational education and training.

“The relevance of vocational education and training, meaning whether it meets the requirements of today’s labour market, is a particular theme of interest right now,” Tirronen says.

Sari Eriksson: Finnish expertise is highly regarded in Russia

Sari Eriksson, who earlier worked as a researcher at the University of Helsinki, has studied the higher education sector in the territory of the former Soviet Union. She has also worked with education exports in Poland.

“Russians are interested in Finnish education. It is important that we seize the existing interest more effectively,” Eriksson says.

In addition to following higher education and science policy, Eriksson’s work includes developing student exchange schemes and attracting Russian talents to Finland.

Eriksson thinks that it is important to highlight Finland's expertise, because Russians are interested in and willing to conduct international cooperation expressly with those who are more competent than they are.

Read the entire interview with Sari Eriksson (in finnish) on the website of the Ministry of Education and Culture.