Dr. Hüseyin Celik, Minister of National Education, ladies and gentlemen
I am very honored to be able to address this important meeting of Turkish teachers and experts of education today.
Surveys have suggested that the Finns are among the most eager seekers of education in the OECD countries at all levels, including adults. OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PİSA) place Finnish teenagers in a highest position for reading, acquisition of information, comprehension and interpretation of written material, and for their knowledge of nature. I am proud to say that Finland once again came out to be number one in the OECD's latest PISA study of learning skills among 15-year-olds, with high performances in mathematics and science.
Finland's success in the PISA surveys has focused international attention on the country's school system. Educators from around the world have shown huge interest towards Finland after the success of Finnish students in the PISA 2000, 2003 and 2006 surveys.
The success has also been a hot topic in international media and in different seminars and conferences. Thousands of teachers and other educators have come to Finland to see the Finnish school system for themselves.
Finland has gained a world-wide reputation as a country which invests in education, science and research to an exceptional degree. Finland is also known as a country which has gone for widespread adoption of information technology and transformed itself into a knowledge economy in a short time.
Education and training, culture and science are the key factors for the citizen's well-being in Finland. Finland is an example of a nation that has developed from a remote agrarian and industrial state in 1950's to a model knowledge economy, using education as the key to economic and social development.
Finland has done very well in international comparisons regarding economic competitiveness as well; Finland has been reported one of the world’s most competitive countries. These two – competitiveness and education - are linked together. We believe that education is a key factor for competitiveness. The education provided by society is regarded as a means of increasing the nation's intellectual capital, and Finland wishes to be at the forefront in achieving this.
All children in Finland are guaranteed opportunities for study and self-development according to their abilities, irrespective of their place of residence, language or financial status. The strength of the Finnish school system is that it offers equal learning opportunities regardless of social background. Parents trust in the education provided by public schools. Teachers are well trained and enjoy considerable respect by the other members of the society.
Turkey has made good progress in the area of education and training over the past decade. A well publicised girls’ education campaign has had a great success and progress has been made in increasing enrolment numbers at all educational levels. Turkey has been participating successfully in the EU Community programmes in the field of education and training – Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci and Youth that were launched in May 2004. Several Turkey’s institutions take part very successfully in these programmes today.
I am happy to say that increasing amount of Turkish students have chosen Finland as a place to study. I am happy to tell you that next week Nakkila secondary school students and teachers from Finland will visit Hacihamza school in Corum within the framework of a common Comenius project, and this is only one exemple of the fruitful cooperation between the schools.
Today we have two Finnish experts here to explain the 'secrets' of Finnish education system and to analyse the success of Finnish students in these PİSA surveys. I warmly welcome professor Kristiina Kumpulainen and Mr. Pekka Arinen from the University of Helsinki and Mrs. Claire Shewbridge from OECD Paris, who brings us the latest news from the headquaters of PISA analysis.
I wish to thank Dr. Hüseyin Celik, Minister of National Education, for his valuable support for this seminar. I am very grateful to Mr. Ibrahim Demirer, Head of Department for Educational Research and Development in the Ministry of Education, Mrs. Meral Hacipasaoglu, Deputy General Director, Mr. Ibrahim Zeki Karabiyik, Head of Department for International Relations and the whole team in the Ministry of National Education for their efforts in realizing this seminar.
I wish you a successful meeting and I hope it will reinforce the dialogue between the educational experts of our countries.