A kick-off event took place on 18 January in Dublin, Ireland, to officially start the Fostering Inclusive Quality Education in Finland and Ireland project. The multi-country project is funded by the European Union via the Technical Support Instrument (TSI) and implemented with support from the Agency.
With a particular focus on enhancing quality inclusive education, the project aims to improve the capacity of the two participating countries to foster inclusiveness in their education systems. More specifically, the project will support Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture and Ireland’s Department of Education to identify key objectives and plan actions to promote equitable learning opportunities, improve educational outcomes and increase access to mainstream education for all.
The project’s multi-country approach will provide opportunities for peer learning between the relevant authorities of both countries at regional and national level. The kick-off event brought together regional and local stakeholders from Finland and Ireland, to encourage them to engage in the project’s activities.
The event was opened by a video message by Josepha Madigan, Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion in Ireland. The Minister highlighted Ireland’s commitment to inclusive education and to the project’s aims, referring to the National Council for Special Education’s recent Policy Advice publication, which recommends necessary system level reforms. She invited all stakeholders to an open dialogue for a progressive realisation of a more inclusive education system.
In another video message, Mario Nava, Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM), emphasised the TSI programme’s investment in strengthening inclusive education through past and on‑going projects across the European Union.
Merja Mannerkoski, Senior Specialist at the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland, also provided introductory remarks, reiterating Finland’s commitment to ensuring quality in learning support provision across the country.
The event continued with a keynote speech by Lani Florian, Professor in inclusive education at the University of Edinburgh. Her presentation inspired participants to reinforce inclusive education and encouraged collaboration between national authorities and stakeholders.
The final part of the meeting involved focused discussions with national stakeholders, who shared their views on the strengths and challenges of their education systems and suggested key areas to be addressed during the project’s lifecycle.
For more information on the project and the Agency’s involvement in TSI work, visit the TSI web area.