The international work of Espoo Education and Cultural Services made broad progress in 2019. The services were developed to meet the needs of the diverse people, and the citizens of Espoo were offered new possibilities to improve their international skills. Together with international partners challenges were solved. Due to the coronavirus situation the international cooperation has been done online since March.
The guidelines for international work of Education and Cultural Services are presented in the International and Global Education Programme of Espoo Education and Cultural Services (pdf, 5344 Kt).
Broad-minded, understanding and the sense of community
The citizens of Espoo come from all over the world and speak 150 different languages. Espoo Education and Cultural Services has a significant part in creating an appreciative and broad-minded atmosphere.
In day-care centres and in schools young people learn to understand otherness. In libraries and museums people can get to know new worlds. The culture and sports events create a sense of community over language barriers. During the past year, language minorities have celebrated their own roots and brought the citizens of Espoo together. For example, the Tanzanian Association of the Metropolitan Area celebrated The Tanzania Day in Opinmäki, and the traditional Somali Culture Fair was organized in Entresse library.
Expanding the language rich activities to 10 day-care centres was a significant opening in the field of early childhood education. The aim is to support and motivate children to learn and be interested in other languages and cultures. The development of language learning will continue further. The first bilingual early childhood education group is about to launch in autumn 2020.
International knowledge and understanding belongs to everyone
The city of Espoo grows to be more international and the citizens of Espoo relate to the rest of the world. Therefore, internationality is a basic skill that belongs to everyone. It consists of knowledge, skills and values with what we can act responsible as part of local and global community. At schools, internationality is present in different school subjects as well as in broad language course selection and international projects.
Throughout the year, Education and Cultural Services offered new possibilities to improve international knowledge and understanding. The highlights included young people from Espoo taking part in China Finland Year of Winter Sports launched by the Chinese and Finnish presidents. 30 young people from Espoo participated in the opening of a Shanghai ice park. During the Global Communications course the students from Espoo upper secondary schools learned new skills from top communications experts. In Youth Services’ new Erasmus+ project the young people from the Baltic Sea area improve the safety in everyday life.
The quality of Education and Cultural Services as an attraction
Good quality of Education and Cultural Services act as an international attraction. The services make citizens enjoy themselves and create a positive image. During the year, the international interest towards the Finnish education brought 600 international delegates to visit the schools. Espoo City Library was chosen as the best library in the world at London Book Fair 2019. International culture and sports events were organized in different parts of the city.
Accessibility is a significant part of the attraction of the services. Accessibility was improved in Education and Cultural Services for example by organizing multilingual parent teacher meetings and joint application guidance. The English language website was improved and Early Childhood Education Services opened a trilingual chat service. Espoo Education and Cultural Services also took part in improving The Hello Espoo website targeted to new citizens.
The shared future is created in international networks
Education and Cultural Services took actively part in European cooperation fueled by Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Espoo hosted the opening ceremony of the European Week of Sports in Leppävaara sports park. European Commissioners Jyrki Katainen and Tibor Navracsics among others attended the opening ceremony. Espoo presented good practices to advance sporty lifestyle. Furthermore, the opening ceremony was an accomplishment for the sports clubs and a celebration for the importance of physical exercise of children and young people: 8000 pupils tried new disciplines in pop-up points organized by more than 100 sports clubs.
Espoo became a leader of the Eurocities Culture Forum. As the Culture Forum chair, Espoo takes part in innovating the working of the Forum and set out the agenda for the cooperation. Eurocities promotes its member cities’ interests in the EU and offers a platform for the cities to exchange experiences. Member of Espoo City Council Jaana Jalonen is the Chair at the Eurocities Culture Forum. As chair, City of Espoo will also take part in urban agenda work for the EU as part of the culture partnership.
The shared future is created together with other cities in the international networks of the cities. Many challenges are global and therefore need global solutions and peer learning. Taking part in the international cooperation is also a way to take responsibility. Espoo takes part in the UNESCO network of learning cities and Union of the Baltic Cities. The Cultural, Education and Youth Services cooperate with different networks in their field.
Corunavirus moved the international cooperation online
The Education and Cultural Services will continue to implement the International and Global Education Programme of Espoo Education and Cultural Services. Internalisation at home will be strengthened and international cooperation online will continue as long as the coronavirus related restrictions are in place. During the spring, international city networks have for example organized webinars in which the cities from all over the world have shared their coronavirus related solutions.