#StudentVoice - Helsinki embraces the power of youth in shaping education

The City of Helsinki has empowered students and young people to help shape the future of education during Helsinki Education Week – an annual week-long celebration, with more than 250 events aimed at sharing best-practice from the world-renowned Finnish education system.

Adopting the theme of ‘Student Voice’, over the course of the week, students participated in student-led events held throughout the city designed to encourage greater engagement and inspire an increase in student activism and enthusiasm for education.

Student-led events included workshops about nature, technology, science and art for students of all ages take part in throughout the city:

  • At Vesala Comprehensive School, students participated in a number of activities including student planned workshops, for students from other schools about natural sciences and robotics; an escape room activity, that adopted a creative approach to learning about space sciences; and a presentation from students responsible for looking after the school’s animals on how animals have influenced their learning and created a calmer school environment by lowering their blood pressure.  
  • At Aurinkolahti Comprehensive School, international guests attended student-hosted workshops on ‘smart’ wearables of their own design, demonstrating an innovative approach to edtech learning. 
  • At REDI shopping mall, more than 2,500 high school students learnt work skills in a gamified event designed to improve student employability. 
  • At Oodi Central Library, students connected with pupils in Malawi, with the help of the Malawi National Broadcasting Company, sharing ideas about education and learning, developing a kinship across cultures and discussing ways in which to make student voices heard.

Further amplifying student voice, the Helsinki Youth Council invited the Executive Director of Helsinki Education Division to discuss how young people can influence policy makers. The youth representatives were especially interested in how schools can be supportive of student activism. Students’ ideas on renewing policies were then collected and shared with Finland’s Ministry of Justice before being shared publicly during Children’s Rights Week this week.

Held in partnership with HundrED, a leading international not-for-profit committed to improving education through innovation, Helsinki Youth Council representatives also met with HundrED Youth Ambassadors at a Youth Summit to share ideas on how education could be revitalised and better prepared to support future generations.

Ms Liisa Pohjolainen, the Executive Director of Helsinki Education Division said:

“Today’s decisions influence the youth of tomorrow. It is good demonstration of democracy in action when we involve youth in influencing and shaping education policy. “We’re delighted that we have been able to present our pedagogical expertise to a large and international audience this year. We’re very proud of our education professionals and the work carried out in our educational institutions. The student engagement we have witnessed throughout the week has been incredibly inspiring and encouraging for the future.”

Helsinki Education Week is fast becoming the leading opportunity for all those with an interest in education to explore its future landscape, to discover the ways to empower teachers, to be inspired by outside-the-box thinking, and to ensure that students are truly at the heart of their learning.

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