In cooperation with the Ministry of Education, FinCEAL Plus Africa organized a side-event to the Ministerial visit of Sanni Grahn-Laasonen to South Africa in May. Finnish-South Africa collaboration in Research and Innovation has always been a priority for Higher-Education Institutions in both countries. Between 2009 and 2015, the two countries carried out 40 projects through the North-South-South funding instrument and 2 projects through the Higher Education Institutions Institutional Cooperation Instrument (HEI-ICI). The Academy of Finland and the National Research Foundation of South Africa have also had strong collaboration through their Joint Funding Call.

The workshop organized by FinCEAL aimed to build on this long-term interest of the two countries in the field of education and to explore new ways of how to take the collaboration forward. The event drew more than 30 participants from both Finland and South Africa working in education companies, higher-education institutions and government representatives. Minster Sanni Grahn-Laasonen who opened the event emphasized on the need for equal partnerships. She highlighted on the path that Finland had taken to reform its own education system, increasing both its quality and equality. The results of this transformation continue to be evident in the country’s international PISA ranking. Sharing ideas from Finland’s experience is one example of where the two countries could cooperate.

South Africa being an emerging economy and the 2nd largest in Africa, has a lot of possibilities to institute and reform its own changes in the education sector. The diversity of the country and large youth population provides an opportunity for innovative ways to build a knowledge economy and produce innovations that address local societal challenges.

Feedback from the workshop showed the interest from both parties to find mutual areas of interest through co-creation methods. The opportunity to interact and discuss about solutions to education challenges was highly appreciated.

The workshop was moderated by Melissa Arni-Hardén from Onnivation Ltd.