Abroad for the first time – Ahtisaari Days in Brussels

Published on Tuesday, 3rd of December 2019

This year, in addition to the annual event in Finland, the Ahtisaari Days were held abroad for the first time. Last week Ahtisaari Days travelled to the heart of Europe, Brussels, where CMI experts visited two international schools. In addition, the Finnish Embassy in Brussels hosted a lunch event discussing the future of the school.  

Henna Virkkunen and Arto Nyberg at the Ahtisaari Days lunch event at the Finnish Embassy.

The Ahtisaari Days have taken place since 2011 and this year for the first time they were held outside Finland. Brussels and the Finnish EU Presidency provided a great setting for the first international Ahtisaari Days. Ahtisaari Days’ themes of reconciliation and the importance of dialogue skills interested schools outside Finland too.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland has long been a partner of CMI and the Ahtisaari Days, and a discussion on the Ahtisaari Days was held at the Finnish Embassy in Brussels.

CMI’s Elina Lehtinen at the Scandinavian School of Brussels.

The CMI experts also visited pupils from the Nordic countries attending the European School and the Scandinavian School of Brussels. There, our experts got to see the everyday life of these international schools and to engage with local teachers and students. The message of the Ahtisaari Days resonated in the Brussels schools: pupils became enthusiastic about peace mediation and the classes prompted a stimulating discussion on the themes of the Ahtisaari Days.

Toward the school of the future

The Finnish Embassy in Belgium hosted an Ahtisaari Days discussion on the topic of the school of the future. Ambassador Riitta Resch opened the occasion by welcoming the Ahtisaari Days to Brussels and highlighting the importance of peace mediation to Finland.

The panel discussion held at the Finnish Embassy was moderated by Finnish journalist Arto Nyberg. Those taking part in the discussion included MEP and former Minister of Education Henna Virkkunen, Counsellor of Education Kristina Kaihari from the National Agency for Education, Riikka Marjamäki, Head of the Office of President Ahtisaari, and Olli Puumalainen from CMI’s group of youth peace ambassadors, the Lennons.


Councellor of Education Kristina Kaihari (middle).

“Guaranteed access to good education for all”

The panel discussed Finnish education and in particular its distinctive features. What lies behind the success of the Finnish school, and how can its high level be preserved in the future?

“The secret of Finnish education is Finnish teachers and their pedagogical expertise,” said Henna Virkkunen. Kristina Kaihari added that the work of the teacher in Finland is highly valued. As a result, unlike in many other countries, many young Finns are still interested in teacher training.

CMI’s Riikka Marjamäki at the panel discussion.

An equal and inclusive school system is definitely Finland’s strength. Inclusiveness is an important guiding value for peace mediation too. Riikka Marjamäki pointed out that the competence of both the peace mediator and the teacher require the same skills: an ability to listen to one another and treat everyone equally. In the changing world of the future curiosity about new things will also be important — a genuine desire to learn and try out new things, said Olli Puumalainen.

Read more about the Ahtisaari Days here.