Finland and Ireland have recently launched a project called “Fostering Inclusive Quality Education in Finland and Ireland ” which is a significant step towards promoting inclusive education. This initiative, funded by the European Union through the Technical Support Instrument (TSI) and supported by the Agency began with an event in Dublin, Ireland on January 18 2024.
The main objective of this project is to strengthen the capacity of Finland and Ireland to create inclusive education systems. It aims to assist the Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland and the Department of Education in Ireland by identifying goals and planning actions to ensure equitable learning opportunities. The ultimate aim is to improve outcomes for all students regardless of their backgrounds or abilities.
The kick-off event marked the start of a journey towards achieving quality education in both countries. It brought together stakeholders from regional and local levels providing a platform for engagement in project activities and facilitating peer learning between relevant authorities at regional as well as national levels.
During the opening ceremony Josepha Madigan, Ireland‘s Minister of State, for Special Education and Inclusion delivered a video message.
She emphasized Ireland’s commitment to providing education and achieving the objectives of the project. She referred to a Policy Advice publication by the National Council for Special Education, which calls for systemic reforms. Madigan invited stakeholders to engage in a dialogue aimed at progressively achieving a more inclusive education system.
Mario Nava, the Director General of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM) echoed the dedication to inclusivity and highlighted how the TSI program contributes to strengthening inclusive education across the European Union through various projects.
Merja Mannerkoski, a Senior Specialist at Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture reiterated Finland’s promise to ensure quality learning support provision throughout the country. She emphasized Finland’s reputation for excellence in education.
During the event, Professor Lani Florian from the University of Edinburgh delivered a keynote speech on inclusive education. Her presentation not only motivated participants but also encouraged further collaboration between national authorities and stakeholders to strengthen initiatives promoting inclusivity in education.
In the concluding discussions of the meeting, national stakeholders shared insights into their education system’s strengths and challenges. These conversations laid a foundation for identifying areas of focus throughout various stages of the project paving the way for transformative changes, in both Finland and Ireland’s educational landscapes.As Finland and Ireland set out on this endeavour the initiative serves as a symbol of optimism for the advancement of inclusive education offering a pathway to fair and equal learning opportunities, throughout Europe.