The strengths of the Finnish education system are being presented for Saudi Arabian teachers.

Saudi Arabian teachers to learn about Finnish education in Espoo   


Espoo participates in a teachers’ professional development programme between Finland and Saudi Arabia, in which approximately one hundred Saudi Arabian teachers and principals spend six months in Finland to learn about the Finnish education system and pedagogy.

The programme began in June when the teachers arrived in Finland. They spent the first months of the exchange from June to August by studying English and pedagogy at the University of Helsinki. From the beginning of September, they will get acquainted with practical school work in Espoo, Turku, Tampere and Joensuu.

Interest in the top results of the Finnish school system

From September to the end of November, Espoo schools will host 56 Saudi Arabian teachers and principals. In their home country, the teachers work in schools that correspond with the Finnish comprehensive and general upper secondary schools under the Ministry of Education.

Espoo schools participating in the programme are Espoo International, Kirkkojärvi school, Viherkallio school, Etelä-Tapiola general upper secondary school and the Swedish-speaking Mattlidens skola and Mattlidens gymnasium. In all schools, the Saudi Arabian teachers have a Finnish dedicated pedagogical mentor, who is there to explain the activities and practices of the Finnish school system and to support the implementation of the school immersion period.

During the school immersion, the Saudi Arabian teachers and principals follow lessons in small groups and reflect on their experiences under the guidance of the Finnish mentors. They learn about key aspects of the Finnish school culture, practical implementation of the curriculum, planning of multidisciplinary modules and other objectives set for the programme by the Ministry of Education of Saudi Arabia. The objective of the programme is to take the lessons learned and experiences gained and apply them in Saudi Arabia.

“The Saudi Arabian teachers are aware of Finland’s top results in the international PISA study and their first question often is how those results have been achieved. During this professional development project, we want to present the strengths of the Finnish education system extensively,” says Juhani Kurronen, a mentor and the principal of the Iivisniemi school. The schools participating in the programme will be paid compensation.

Most of the Saudi Arabian teachers have arrived in Finland with their families. Cultural and sports activities are organised for the families during the autumn.

Cultural diversity increases in Espoo schools

One objective of the programme is to develop the Saudi Arabian education system, and thereby the entire society. By participating in th exchange, Espoo contributes to promoting this shared goal.

"By taking part in the programme, Espoo also promotes the awareness of the Finnish and Espoo educational know-how abroad. The project raises Espoo’s profile as an international actor and pioneer in learning, says Aulis Pitkälä, the Head of Education and Cultural Services.

Additionally, education export collaboration increases cultural diversity in Espoo schools. “Collaboration is a way of interacting and learning about another culture. In this way, we increase the pupils’, students’ and personnel’s ability to understand other cultures. This opens new perspectives to the development of education and strengthening our own knowledge,” Pitkälä says.

The school immersion period in Espoo schools is arranged by the education export company Omnia Education Partnerships Oy. It is the largest education export project implemented in Finland so far.