For the first time of my life I am ashamed to tell people in the world that I am from Finland, all thanks to your new government that seems to live on some racist planet of their own and try to take us back a few hundred years in development. This seems to include education. I shivered when the government announced their plan to develop education by changing digital devices to books. That got me thinking about the new literacy programme where the Finnish National Agency of Education launched last year their goals of digitalisation in education. The guiding idea is (or was?) that every right has the right to be part of the digitised society.
As an advocate for children’s education, I firmly believe in instilling a sense of purpose and self-discovery from a young age. In Finland, we teach our children that school is not just about gaining knowledge, but also about understanding who they are, exploring their interests, and envisioning their future paths. Our goal is to nurture good citizens, individuals with the competence to work and learn continuously, and who care for themselves and the environment, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come. In this pursuit, we hold dear the value of uniqueness, ensuring that every child, regardless of their challenges, feels valued, learns, and contributes meaningfully to society.
As educators, we recognize that the children attending schools today will shape the future. We understand that the society they will be a part of 60 years from now will be vastly different from what it is today. Therefore, we actively anticipate changes and modify our education system to equip our children with the competencies needed for the future. We embrace the fact that certain skills may become redundant, while new ones will emerge.
In our skills anticipation forums, we are currently focused on identifying the competencies required by 2035. Among the various skills, two key areas stand out: digital skills and soft skills. Digitalization has permeated all aspects of our lives, and its impact will only grow stronger. To prepare our children for this digital future, we don’t treat ICT skills as a standalone subject. Instead, we seamlessly integrate digital devices, tools, and services into every aspect of teaching and learning, from kindergarten to university level. Whether it’s math or art, we ensure that digital and soft skills complement the subject being taught. In addition to digital tools being part of how we deliver education, they are naturally also a focus of education, for which reason we want to make sure children, youth, adults and seniors have the digital skills they need to be able to function in our digital society.
Children’s right to education goes beyond acquiring knowledge; it involves equipping them with the skills to navigate an ever-changing world. Reading books is great and I do think people, including myself, should find more time to read books. But books can not fulfil the goal of digital tools in schools, they especially can not replace digital tools. Letting of digital devices at schools ultimately breaks the guiding value of education: the right of children and youth to be part of the digitalised society.