KUALA LUMPUR: The new Malaysian government’s strong interest in Finland’s education system can assist in improving Malaysia’s education system.
This is provided that the ongoing reformation within the system be given ample room for development.
Finland Ambassador to Malaysia Petri Puhakka said although his country’s education system is regarded as one of the best in the world, Malaysia must also strive to emulate the structure based on local surroundings and habits.
“We have a good story to tell but it was not done overnight. The work has taken many decades and the reforms continue all the time.
“It is good that the new government has decided to look into this and I am sure there is always room for improvements. The requirements of the society, and even more those of the working life, evolves so fast that one needs to be on constant guard to avoid being left behind.
“We are very happy to continue discussions on this field and share experiences.”
Puhakka said this to Bernama International News Service in an interview on several bilateral matters in conjunction with the one-year rule of the new Malaysian government under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.
The coalition made history when it became the government of the day after winning the 14th General Election (GE14) on May 9, last year.
He pointed out, therefore, that Finland is more than ready to assist Malaysia in modifying its education system.
Citing the “Finnish Experience” – a first of its kind two-day programme held in Taiping recently to expose participating teachers to the Finnish education model – he said the workshop was a good example of an exchange of experience between two nations.
“If these activities prove to be efficient and bring added value, they could be duplicated wider. We could also explore possibilities of enhancing student and even teacher exchanges with Finnish universities,” he said.
Touching on other development regarding Malaysia-Finland bilateral ties, Puhakka expressed hope that the new government will resume negotiations on the proposed European Union (EU)-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as soon as possible.
The FTA potentially creates new possibilities to increase bilateral trade, he added.
“Hopefully there would soon be a decision to continue FTA negotiations with the EU. Speaking of trade, the role of the big Government-Linked Companies (GLC) is sometimes not so clear.
“When a state is both business owner and regulator of the industry, there can easily be conflicts of interest and this can cause inefficiencies. We are strong believers in equality of opportunity and it would be very much welcomed if there are any new steps in this direction,” he said.
To date, the EU already has FTAs with Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia, and is currently negotiating with the Philippines.
Malaysia has yet to have an FTA with the EU, as reported by Bernama in December last year.
The envoy added that more people-to-people contact could be established to deepen current bilateral ties under the new Malaysian government.
“I wish there was more people-to-people communication and tourism in both directions to enlarge and deepen the general knowledge of our respective countries, as I have noticed during the past three years that the level of knowledge, in general, is rather low.
“Bilateral ties have always been very good. And now, with more emphasis on issues like human rights or gender equality or fighting corruption, the prospects of enhancing these ties seem good,” he said. — BERNAMA