Education International
Education International

EI Welcomes New Leader of Finnish Education Union

published 21 May 2010 updated 21 May 2010

EI congratulates Dr. Olli Luukkainen who has been elected the new President of OAJ, the Finnish Teachers’ Union.

Dr. Luukkainen, 52, who was head of the OAJ’s Educational Affairs Department since 2008, is a leading expert in professional development, and succeeds Erkki Kangasniemi who retired at the OAJ Council meeting on 18 May after 15 years of dedicated service.

ETUCE President, Ronnie Smith, who addressed the opening session of the OAJ conference, congratulated the Union OAJ on being able to consistently and successfully influence Finnish education policy, which brought the country to the top of PISA league.

Finnish Education Minister, Henna Virkkunen, then told delegates at the conference, that her priority in the years to come was to develop better use of new technologies in education and to improve teachers’ training.

Also addressing the conference was EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, who said that the key to achieving quality education for all rested with present and future generations of qualified and dedicated teachers.

“Twenty years ago your country established a whole new approach to the teaching profession. You established high level entry into the profession, requiring a master degree to become a teacher. You built in support for new teachers and professional development throughout their careers,” van Leeuwen said.

“You are our crown witness. Today Finland is an outstanding example of a country that has reaped the benefits of quality education – in terms of economic success, but also in terms of quality of life.”

With more than 120,000 members, the OAJ is one of the largest trade unions in Finland and more than 95% of the country’s teaching force is a member of OAJ.