Espoo strengthens international collaboration on continuous learning

Published: 8.10.2021 8.07Updated: 19.10.2021 6.44
Osanin kaupunginjohtaja Kwak Sang-Wook

The City of Espoo and the City of Osan, South Korea, have agreed on a collaboration aiming at strengthening lifelong learning. The collaboration starts with knowledge exchange in the field of learning, as well as with esports collaboration. The idea is also to offer young people from Espoo the opportunity to learn about South Korea's language and culture, the City of Osan, and its young people.

The agreed five-year-long collaboration will develop gradually according to the needs of the cities. A large part of the collaboration is carried out with the help of digital connections. 

Learning, sustainable development and UNESCO collaboration unite 

Espoo and Osan have been building the collaboration for several years. Representatives of the cities originally met through the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities, where Espoo in 2015 was awarded among the first cities as a pioneer in lifelong learning. Mayor Jukka Mäkelä visited Osan in 2019 and the mayor of Osan Sang-wook Kwak has visited Espoo twice. In addition, a few expert groups from Osan have benchmarked Espoo's learning practices. For instance, the makerspaces of Espoo City Library have inspired Osan to develop learning labs. 

“We are a more successful learning city because of Espoo”, said Mayor Kwak at the digital signing ceremony of the collaboration agreement.  

Osan, like Espoo, is an active member of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities and committed to carbon neutrality. In Osan, more than 100 new resident gardens have been set up in the last three years and the city's premises have been opened for residents' learning purposes. The city profiles itself as a child- and family-friendly learning city, which invests in the welfare of its residents. Osan has a population of 240,000 residents and is located 20 kilometers south from the capital city Seoul.  

Together towards a desired future 

The new collaboration is a good example of a partnership that benefits both parties. Finland and South Korea are among the world's leading information societies, and both Espoo and Osan are committed to developing continuous learning. At the beginning of the collaboration, the intention is to share best practices and knowledge about learning. For example, education for sustainable development, digital learning, and the importance of well-being for learning are of interest to both cities. 

South Korea is successful in esports, and the University of Osan will launch a new esports program in 2022. Espoo also develops opportunities for studies, hobbies and entrepreneurship in esports. The goal is to bring together parties involved in esports in both cities to share knowhow. 

The aim of the cities is also to identify opportunities for collaboration that interests young people. Learning about global connectedness, languages and cultures is a central part of learning objectives in both South Korea and Finland.  

Mayor Jukka Mäkelä signed the collaboration agreement at a virtual event on 29 September 2021.