Embracing Education Beyond National Borders: The Collaborative Journey of SIFTED

In the ever-changing world of education, collaboration transcends geographical barriers, cultural differences, and institutional boundaries, unifying educators with a common goal of enhancing teaching and learning globally.

At the forefront of this collaborative endeavour lies the Sino-Finnish Teacher Education and In-Service Teacher Training (SIFTED) project group, from the School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education, and the School of Educational Sciences and Psychology, at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF). The project group is part of a pilot network of internationalisation fuelled by the collective efforts of passionate educators from the Global Innovation Network for Teaching and Learning (GINTL).

Since 2022, the SIFTED project group has been at the vanguard of fostering collaboration between Finland and China, two nations renowned for their commitment to educational excellence. With the generous financial support of Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture, SIFTED is embarking on a transformative journey, opening the door to innovative partnerships and groundbreaking initiatives in teacher education for UEF.

One of the cornerstone achievements of the SIFTED project group is the establishment of a strategic partnership with Capital Normal University, Beijing, China. Through the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU), SIFTED and Capital Normal University have laid the foundation for the co-development of a joint master’s degree program in Education, starting from mobility of courses, students, and faculty. This visionary initiative brings together Finnish pedagogical expertise and Chinese educational insights, offering students, teaching staff, and researchers from both countries a unique opportunity to engage with diverse perspectives and approaches to teaching and learning.

Furthermore, SIFTED has played a pivotal role in shaping the future of Sino-Finnish joint degree provision by actively contributing to the development of Quality Assurance Guidelines for Sino-Finnish Joint Degree Provision, in collaboration with esteemed colleagues from the Sino-Finnish Education Research Centre, Faculty of Management and Business, Tampere University. The Guidelines serves as a compass for ensuring the delivery of high-quality education that adheres to rigorous standards of excellence, thereby fostering mutual trust, quality culture, and confidence in joint degree programmes between Finland and China, for the SIFTED project, UEF, and beyond.

In addition to institutional collaborations, the SIFTED project group has also embarked on a scholarly exploration of the implementation of Finnish educational approaches by Chinese educators. Through meticulous research and analysis, they have sought to uncover the underlying principles and practices that underpin the successful adaptation and integration of Finnish pedagogy within the Chinese context. By sharing their findings through a research article, SIFTED aims to facilitate cross-cultural understanding and promote meaningful dialogue between educators from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Besides, with a vision to foster inclusive education practices, the project group has also embarked on a journey to empower Chinese educators through online courses. These courses serve as a bridge between two rich educational traditions, intertwining the innovative approaches of Finnish pedagogy with the unique needs and context of Chinese classrooms. Through this cross-cultural exchange, educators in China gain invaluable insights and tools to create inclusive learning environments that support learners’ diversity and nurture every student’s potential.

SIFTED’s collaborative efforts have an impact that goes beyond academia and has broader societal and cultural implications. By fostering cross-cultural exchanges and mutual learning experiences, SIFTED contributes to the cultivation of a global community of educators who are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and cultural competency to navigate the complexities of our interconnected world. Through their actions, they not only enrich students’ educational experiences but also promote intercultural understanding, cooperation, and mutual learning.

In addition, the SIFTED-led collaborative initiatives have the potential to catalyse wider societal transformation and sustainable development. By fostering closer ties between Finland and China in the field of education encouraged by the Joint Action Plan between China and Finland on Promoting the Future-oriented New-type Cooperative Partnership 2019-2023, SIFTED is a catalyst for building bridges between nations, encouraging diplomacy, reciprocity, and cultural exchange between Finland and China.

As we look forward, the journey of SIFTED proves the transformative power of collaboration in teacher education. SIFTED remains committed to shaping a more inclusive, equitable, and interconnected future of teacher education, by forging new potential partnerships, pioneering innovative initiatives, and promoting cross-cultural understanding.

Suhao Peng
Project researcher
School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education, University of Eastern Finland

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Note: The author declares that ChatGPT was used to improve readability and language.