On January 29, 2021, Finland rejoined GPE with a €25 million pledge, making it the first towards GPE’s 2021-2025 "Raise Your Hand” replenishment campaign.
The pledge marks the country’s reengagement with GPE and demonstrates the priority Finland is giving to education.
Ville Skinnari is the Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade in Finland.
1. How has Finland supported COVID-19 recovery efforts in low-income countries, especially around education?
Finland is strongly committed to international cooperation in our COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. With the unprecedented worldwide closure of schools many children and young people, especially girls, are at risk of permanent drop out.
Finland is strengthening our focus on education in emergencies. Additional funds have been provided to support distance learning, school health protocols and drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. We have contributed new funding to Education Cannot Wait and the World Food Program’s (WFP) school feeding programs.
Overall, I am pleased with the speed and flexibility with which the international community has responded. GPE’s targeted COVID-19 grants are an excellent example of this and I am glad we have been able to contribute there as well. GPE’s replenishment campaign couldn’t come at a more critical time. The financing gap for education is alarming, and we must not lose sight of the long-term agenda, and efforts to build back better, more resilient, equitable and inclusive education systems.
2. Why is education an important aspect of Finland’s development agenda?
Education is a fundamental human right and it is a smart investment for the future.
We are pledging to advance the equal right of all persons to access inclusive and quality education. Too many children and young people globally are deprived of this right, especially girls, children with disabilities and those living in situations of conflict and crisis. And too many children are not learning the basics. It is a global learning crisis, which the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated.
At the same time, we see education as an investment to a well-functioning, equal and competitive society. Here I speak from experience. In the beginning of the 20th century, Finland was a poor country where 40% of all 15-year-olds were illiterate. After the devastation of World War II, Finland developed from a poor and agrarian society into a prosperous Nordic welfare state, a global leader in innovations, technology and knowhow through our investments in education.
The international interest that our own education system attracts gives us even more reason to engage in the global efforts to build quality education systems leaving no one behind. Equally important to financing is the conversation around policies: good teachers, and inclusive education systems that embrace equality, equity and high-quality learning.