Education export: Evidence-informed approach
Effective educational systems and well-trained teachers are on demand worldwide. Finnish education with good reputation, especially in the PISA results, is well-known and also thoroughly studied. However, the education export sector has a major challenge in transferring the know-how to interested teachers in different cultural contexts. It is not enough to copy the teaching contents or methods and repeat them elsewhere.
So, what are the cornerstones of successful education export? I suggest four cornerstones:
Get to know your clients; their needs, values, competences, resources and socio-cultural environment and readiness to change, learn and improve their education.
Forget the know-it-all mentality; instead, be ready to serve the clients, empower them, transfer, adapt and adjust your education approach and tools to the context.
Co-create the relevant and salient know-how and capacities in the cultural context.
Build monitoring, assessment and evaluating systems to give feedback of the success; adjust the development of competencies, methods of teaching to learn from practice and improve the future ways of working and sustainability.
To build the four cornerstones for each cultural context calls for creative and tailored solutions. What works in Finland can also work elsewhere when it makes sense in the new context and ‘when the soil is fertile’.
I can honestly say from my own experience in the education export field that when we could not build our projects on the four cornerstones listed above, we did not fully succeed in our project aims. Some lessons learned are described in the paper (Experiences with the Export of Education in Health Sciences from Denmark to Saudi Arabia) on our education export project in Saudi Arabia.
On the other hand, my research experience in developing (health) policies in different societies in the last 20 years has taught me how sustainable, real-world policy making is influenced by contextual factors such as priorities, values, resources and culture, in addition to the available research evidence. Thus, both education export and policy development are only informed by (research) evidence, not based on it. Those interested in learning more about the evidence-informed approach, may visit the website of the REPOPA project (www.repopa.eu) and have a glance at the published papers there.
In EduRes Consulting we aim to apply this evidence-informed approach in consulting and training trainers; building on the approach and methods shown effective (e.g. in Finland), we provide tailored, salient services for different cultural contexts. Our work is built on the four cornerstones of needs assessment, serving mentality, co-creation and learning from practice and experience via evaluation.