Global South coordinators meeting presented insightful sessions and discussions
Over the course of two days, the 'Focus on the Global South' meeting welcomed over 80 participants from more than 25 educational institutions across Finland.
The event brought together professionals involved in Global South partnerships, targeting specifically higher education and vocational education staff involved in HEI ICI, TFK, Erasmus+ Capacity Building, and other global and bilateral projects with the Global South.
The aim of the event was to create a forum where project representatives could share their experiences and insights to collectively shape the future of collaboration in the Global South.
Exploring overarching themes on United Nations Day
The first day of the event centered on overarching themes and objectives, hosting sessions that were tailored for all EDUFI Global South actors.
Coinciding with UN Day, October 24, a day emblematic of global unity, the occasion added a layer of depth and meaning to the day's agenda for all present. Maija Airas, Head of the International Higher Education Cooperation Unit at EDUFI, drew attention to this timely convergence in her welcome speech.
"The alignment of our gathering with UN Day is a reminder of our shared commitment to fostering global partnerships and understanding. At EDUFI, one of our current focal points is to further Finland's Africa strategy, aiming to diversify and strengthen our ties with African countries."
Following the welcome by Maija Airas, the event transitioned into its main sessions.
AnneSophie Hokkanen, Senior Programme Adviser at EDUFI, introduced participants to the current support landscape for cooperation with Global South. The session featured contributions from various speakers, including Iina Soiri, TFK expert in Southern Africa, who shared updates on HEI cooperation and TFK services in the region.
Subsequently, Marjo Mäenpää, head of the Finnish Centre of Expertise in Education and Development (FinCEED), took the stage to address the critical role of providing expertise in addressing the global learning crisis.
An afternoon full of mutual learning through collegial encounters
In the afternoon, the program continued with a panel spotlight that showcased project success stories from different regions.
The three panelists, Irmeli Maunonen-Eskelinen from Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, Liisa Timonen from Karelia University of Applied Sciences, and Dipjoy Chakma from the University of Helsinki shared their rich experiences with attendees.
Topics ranged from the importance of needs analysis to building trust in partnerships. One panelist emphasized, "Recognizing needs is the first step in the project journey. It's not about what we assume we can offer but, more importantly, about understanding what is genuinely required."
Panelists recognized the significance of groundwork, also referred to as ‘footwork’, highlighting the value of face-to-face discussions in building trust and understanding.
Discussions also touched upon the sustainability of projects, emphasizing the need to engage institution management at an early project stage, as well as collaborate with local authorities.
The afternoon proceeded with an ethical guidelines workshop led by Sini Piippo, Programme Manager at EDUFI. Working in table groups incited open discussions on the challenges and nuances of ethical partnerships.
One attendee voiced, " We all learn through the process. Making mistakes is OK. It's through these errors that we truly understand the depth of our work.”
As the day began to near its end, Anna-Maria Strengell, Communication Specialist at EDUFI, took the floor in facilitating a practical workshop focusing on impact and impact thinking in project communications. Attendees were actively engaged in a practical exercise that encouraged them to apply the concepts discussed during the workshop.
Following the workshop, the day drew to a close with concluding remarks from guest speaker Johanna Kivimäki, TFK expert based in São Paulo, who joined remotely to extend greetings from the higher education field in Latin America.
After an information-filled day, participants left anticipating the next day, which promised further networking opportunities and focused discussions in program-specific meetings.
Attendees were not disappointed as the second day of the event delivered on its promise, with many sharing their appreciation for the enriching dialogues.