CFP Forum 2016 Review——From Xinhua News

Video: CFP Forum opening video

Img: cfp 2016 participants' group foto


Xinhua News Tampere, Finland on 14th, August.

Title: Children should take a leading role in learning - A comparison between Chinese and Finnish curriculum reforms

Xinhua News Reporters: Jizhi Li, Xuan Zhang


Chinese education reform aims at strengthening the most essential qualities of students. At the same time, Finnish primary and secondary schools are starting the first semester after the implementation of the new curriculum. The reform aims at shifting the focus from “what to learn” to “how to learn”.

Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a worldwide study done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It started in 2000 and has been repeated every three years. Both Finnish and Chinese students are among the top performers in the PISA test.

The current curriculum reform in Finland is focusing on improving the students’ competences in adapting to the modern society. The question is whether this new reform will help Finland to maintain its leading position in education. During the 2nd China-Finland Principals Forum, we had the opportunity to interview some education experts from both China and Finland to find out what they have to say about the education reforms.

“The outline of the new curriculum requires the students not only to receive the information, but to also understand the importance of the information,” summarised Mr. Jari Anderssson, the Chairman of Finland-China Education Association (FICEA), the Chairman of the Sastamala city council and the Principal of Sylvää School. Andersson mentioned that one important learning method is “phenomenon based learning”, which breaks the boundaries of different subjects. For example, the topic of “climate change” can cover subjects such as geography and biology and the topic of “United Nations” covers subjects like English, geography and history. “We have arranged phenomenon based learning -classes on a regular basis in Sylvää school ,” added Mr. Andersson

The outline of the new curriculum also encourages teachers to gather with students to look for answers rather than to offer the knowledge to them straight away. Teachers should try to possess students’ passion in studying and not to point out the right or wrong answers immediately. In addition, teachers should inspire students to discover their own strengths and weaknesses and help them to explore their own potentials. In order to help students to think independently and to communicate between different cultures, schools should focus on self- and peer-evaluations rather than standardized tests.

Ms. Sanna Lauslahti, the vice chairperson of the Ministry of Education and Culture, senior advisor of FICEA and the chairperson of the CFP 2016 told us, “The world is changing so fast. It is likely that the knowledge that we are teaching today is going to be outdated in a few years, and no one knows what the world will look like when our students start their careers. Hence, the current curriculum reform emphasizes the leading role of students in learning. The most important thing is not offering only the knowledge, but helping children to learn by themselves and to adapt to different environments.”

Mr. Chunyan Gong, the Head of Chongqing Education Evaluation Institute said, “For a long time, China has taken influences from different countries such as Finland. We have been trying to push forward the curriculum reforms in primary and secondary schools. This year, we are going to revise the curriculum standards based on the selected core competences.”

Chinese education experts consider the basic education cultures of Finland and China moving towards the same direction. For example, quality and equality are emphasized in both countries, and each country has set up their own core competences for students. But due to the differences in country contexts, the approaches to meet the goals are different too.

Chongqing Xiejiawan Primary school is one of the pioneers in basic education reform in China. A few years ago, they integrated more than ten different subjects into six main subjects. During the reform process, Principal Liu Xiya was under a lot of pressure because of the parents. She told us, “Our basic education is still hovering between ‘essential-qualities-oriented’ education and ‘exam-oriented” education. It is much harder to implement curriculum reform in China than in Finland.”

One important factor in curriculum reforms is the improvement of teaching evaluation system. Mr. Dong Li, the Vice Chairman of FICEA, told us, “In China, we are using a different system to evaluate the teachers’ teaching levels and students’ overall qualities. It is a problem that we have to solve when we are pushing the curriculum reforms further. Mr. Gongchun Yan also commented, “The key for Chinese education reform is evaluation system. We have started the pilot project of National College Entrance Examination (NCEE) reform in several places, and this is a step-by-step approach.”

Compared to the reform in NCEE, the reform in basic education is carried out at a larger and deeper scale, especially in primary education. Some schools have adopted the evaluation system of giving students different grades rather than scores. “We are not only evaluating how good the students are at theoretical studies — we are also scrutinizing their overall competences in communication, enduring difficulties, practices and adapting to the society and its rules,” commented Gong.

During the CFP-Forum 2016, many prominent speakers delivered interesting speeches. Xiping Tao, a well-known Chinese educator, analyzed the trend of Chinese basic education reform. Arto Satonen, a member of the Finnish Parliament, hoped that the communication and cooperation between Chinese and Finnish education experts could further the development of education in both countries. Aulis Pitkälä, Director General of the Finnish National Board of Education, introduced the core concepts, goals and structure of the current curriculum reform in Finland.  

 Opening speakers and keynote speakers

Henna Virkkunen: Member of the European Parliament, Former Minister of Finnish Education Ministry

Opening keynote: Leading Position of Finnish Education in Europe

Arto Satonen: Vice spokeman of Finnish Parliament
, Senior advisor of FICEA

Opening speaker

Aulis Pitkälä: Director-General for Finnish National Board of Education

Keynote: Finland's Curriculum Reform

Sanna Lauslahti: Chairman of CFP 2016, Senior advisor of FICEA, Vice Chairman of Education Culture Committee in Finnish Parliament, senior advisor of FICEA

Opening keynote

Gao Yuhang: Head of Embassy Education Sector

Opening speaker

Leena Kostiainen: Deputy mayor of Tampere

Opening speaker

Jari Andersson: Chairman of the Sastamala city council, chairman of FICEA

Opening speaker

Xiping Tao: Honorary President of Asian Pacific Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centers and Associations

Keynote: The Trend of Basic Education Reform in China

Riikka Lindroos: Chairman, the Association of Finnish Principals

Keynote: What Makes a Great School

Xiya Liu: Vice director of Education Commission of Jiulongpo District (Chongqing), Principal of Xiejiawan Primary school

Keynote: Curriculum Reform in Primary School-The Path of Integration

Taina Peltonen: Director of Education and Culture of Mänttä-Vilppula city

Keynote: Responsibility for curriculum work and cooperation

Arja-Sisko Holappa: Senior Counsellor of Education in the Finnish National Board of Education

Keynote: Finnish Curriculum System & Local Leadership

Chunyan Gong: Head of Chongqing Educational Evaluation Institute, Researcher in Chongqing Research Academy of Education Sciences,

Member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference of the municipal government of Chongqing

Keynote: Curriculum Reform in China & Finland Through Yang Jiang's Ideas

Ari Pokka: President of International Confederation of Principals (ICP), Principal in Schildt Upper Secondary School

Keynote: 21st Century School Leadership & Management

Benzhong Wang: Expert committee on basic education curriculum

Keynote: Principal Leadership in Chinese Upper Secondary Schools

Maarit Rossi: Top 10 Finalist of The Global Teacher Prize-contest, Founder & Chair, Paths to Math Ltd

Keynote: Mathematics Can Be Meaningful, Easy & Fun

Langlang Yang: Director of the Education Institute in Chongqing, Principal of Renmin Primary school

Keynote: The Logic of School Development

Fengqin Wu: Vice Principal & Director of International Department of Beijing National Day School

Keynote: Education for Autonomous Development of Every Student

Mauri Ylä-Kotola: Principal, University of Lapland

Keynote: ICT and Future Education

Li Luo: Vice director of the cooperative education department of Beijing Normal University

Keynote: Basic Education Reform from the Perspective of Cooperation between Universities & Local Governments

Dong Li: Secretary general and vice chairman of FICEA, Senior education advisor


Seppo Kerranen: Director of "Finnish education export" program

Keynote: Finnish digital school

Education Seminar