We need a shared vision of a better future and a long-term plan for funding education

15.03.2019 - 18:47 Blog

I hope this ISTP has helped us all to understand, that the top countries in education have not attained their status by chance, but by investing in education and the teaching profession.

As the first ever Nordic country, Finland hosted the International Summit on the Teaching Profession (ISTP) on 14 and 15 March 2019. ISTP brings together countries with the best performing or rapidly improving education systems as measured by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

It was a fantastic meeting and we are very proud that Finland had the opportunity to organise this international summit of the top countries of education. I’m especially delighted that so many country delegations chose to participate It has been winter outside but the atmosphere inside has been warm and even cosy.

"Together we can do so much"

At ISTP, we really tried to grasp the global wicked problems of our world, our future being our children, young people and students, as well as the great importance of leadership for an equal and high-quality education.

We, of course hope, that we offered all the participants inspiration, good discussions as well as a great ISTP event as a whole. I hope the themes of the ISTP were rewarding and I believe that we all came up with especially relevant comments and ideas regarding the future of our youth and children in the whole world. And I hope we, as organizers, reached our goal to offer a rich and interesting program with engaged discussions, good arguments, pleasant atmosphere and a rich exchange of experience.

The author Helen Keller put it like this: “Alone we can do so little: together we can do so much”.

Early childhood education in focus

This was the first time in ISTP's history that one certain school form got a completely own session. Early Childhood Education has received less attention than other school form during previous ISTP meetings.

I think it's very wise to consistently improve early childhood education and to strive for higher participation in early childhood. I hope this meeting will lead us to a strengthened learning path from the starting point. I hope we will get a better understanding and a vision, that the impact of early childhood education to the learning, growth and development of each child is understood and acknowledged internationally.

As OECD puts it: “The first five years of a child’s life are critical to his or her development. During this period, children learn at a faster rate than at any other time in their lives. The rapid pace of development in early childhood means that investing in young children, both through their families and through access to high-quality early childhood education and care, leads to strong personal, social and economic returns. Disadvantaged children benefit from quality early childhood education and care the most, which could boost social mobility and inclusive growth”.

But this means Early Childhood Education is given by well trained professional teachers with decent working conditions. The education and training of ECE personnel should be comparable to that of primary school teachers with equivalent professional status and responsibilities; and should promote autonomy and creativity in teaching. High quality ECE is maybe the best way to tackle the equity problem in our education.

We need a vision to tackle global problems

I am certain that this event was not the last time we talk about sustainable schools and sustainable education. Climate change and other global problems require a vision of how threats to the environment and humanity can be solved.

Education, training and research help humanity survive, change our lifestyle and consumption habits as well as solve problems. We need a shared vision of a better future and a long-term plan for funding education. Education, training and research must be recognized as our most important investments.

Like John Bangs put it: “Wicked issues stay wicked because they are tough to tackle. Use this summit to start an all year dialogue to try and solve them.”

Leadership is most crucial when talking about developing schools and improving results in education. I hope this session has provided you with new knowledge, and practical understanding of what modern collaborative leadership really is about.

People of our time need multilevel collaborative leadership to meet the challenges of our modern society. Also the school culture should be collaborative. Anthony Mackay put it well: “If we want collaborative leadership, we need to have a collaborative system”.

What to focus on next?

What should we focus on at upcoming ISTP-meetings? I have a few ideas.

Vocational training and, in particular, continuous life-long learning, deserve special consideration.

It is essential that persons with a low level of education, and even the ones without education, as well as all those at work including other working age people should have a possibility to improve continuously their level of basic skills.

Invest to success

I hope this ISTP helped us all to understand, that the top countries in education have not attained their status by chance, but by investing in education and the teaching profession.

These countries, that want to be at the top, understand the value of education in a society and they invest in the future by retaining education on a high level and by reforming it. Their success story can continue only if we invest enough funds in education, research and innovation.

And last but not least...

I want to thank everyone who made this meeting possible. This was a wonderful journey through our chosen themes.

I would like to extend my thanks to the Ministry of Education and Culture, OECD and EI as well as thank all of you who have struggled and worked to make this meeting come true.

Special thanks for Anthony for moderating this meeting once again, in an excellent way. A big thanks to all the participants. Without you there would be no ISTP!

We´ll meet again 2020!


Olli Luukkainen,

Trade Union of Education in Finland, OAJ

Olli Luukkainen
Olli Luukkainen