On July 25, 2012 President Rosen Plevneliev awarded the Ambassador of Finland to Bulgaria Tarja Laitiainen in order „Stara Planina“ first degree. This is the highest state honors in Bulgaria.
Ambassador Laytiaynen kindly answered the questions of Academica BG.
– What has impressed you most in Bulgaria, what do you like best in this country?
– I have travelled quite a lot in the country and have been impressed by the beauty and variety of the nature, as well as by the rich cultural and historical heritage, especially from Thracian, Hellenistic and Roman periods, in addition to the living culture. Before coming to Bulgaria I was aware of the tourist attractions on the Black Sea coast, but not that the skiing opportunities were so many. I have enjoyed the hot springs in various parts of the country, and I’m glad to see that this sector in developing rapidly. You have rich agricultural lands with a lot of possibilities to enhance your market share by producing clean quality vegetables and fruits, for example. I have most appreciated the cuisine prepared on the basis of tasty fresh vegetables, quality sirene prepared from different milks, and good Bulgarian red wine.
– What can be attractive for Finnish citizens in the tourism and business fields in Bulgaria?
– Tens of thousands Finns spend part of their summer vacations at the Black sea coast; Finns love the hot sunny days, the sandy beaches and warm sea water – something they cannot find home in Finland.
Finns used to come on organized charter trips to popular Bulgarian spa resorts, a tradition that could be revived. Key to this in my view would be direct flights arriving near the spa destinations. The same applies to skiing holidays – if the travel connection would be good I?m sure you would see more of my compatriots on the slopes.
Bulgaria is not known as a destination for cultural tourism, despite its rich historical and cultural heritage. This should be put on the map, along with visitor-friendly improvements on the ground.
There is a lot of potential for increased business contacts, for example in fields where we have committed ourselves to make improvements, or where the European Union policies which we have accepted require us to do so. Areas like clean technologies, modern waste management, energy efficiency, information and communication technologies, innovative solutions for many of today?s problems, are among those where potential for mutual benefit is high.
– What is the essence of the Finnish educational system?
– The guiding principles of the Finnish educational system is Education for all – for boys and girls, rich and poor – free of charge. Furthermore, during the compulsory education years free meal is offered to all pupils at lunchtime, as well as free education materials, including books.
– The strength of the Finnish school system is that it guarantees equal learning opportunities for everyone – regardless of social background.
– Preschool instruction is provided for 6-year olds. This is voluntary, but almost the entire age group participates.
– The Finnish school system underlines the importance of lifelong learning. Plenty of training opportunities are provided by the public sector for adults, who are already employed.
– Finland regularly ranks at the top of the three-yearly appraisal of PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) which assesses how 15-years-olds master the essential knowledge and skills (mathematics, science, reading literacy and problem-solving skills) necessary for work and the quality of life in future society.
– Individual support for the learning and welfare of pupils is well accommodated, and the national core curriculum contains guidelines for the purpose. Special needs education is integrated into regular education as far as possible. Guidance counselors support upper grade students in their studies and choice of further education.
– Teaching staff in Finnish schools is highly educated. Teachers have an academic degree, including extensive pedagogical studies, as well as qualifications in special subjects.
– What can Finnish higher education offer to foreign students?
Lots of programmes in English
– Finnish institutions provide over 450 English-speaking degree and non-degree programmes. The degree and lead to an official Finnish higher education Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctoral degree.
– Finnish internationally acclaimed expertise and know-how are present in our international programs. These areas of expertise are ICT, biotechnology, forestry and environmental sciences, architecture, and arts and design.
– The content of our programmes is under constant development.
– Education is provided in English: lectures are held in English, books are in English and tests as well. General communication in campuses and elsewhere is in fluent English.
Quality: Our national education policy, excellent basic education, and student selection for higher education based on competition underpins the high standards in Finnish higher education.
Excellent facilities for work and fun
– The high standard of different facilities provided by Finland and especially higher education institutions is frequently commended by international students.
– In Finland all students have the right to use the institutions’ libraries freely with a library card.
– Well-equipped laboratories
– Excellent opportunities for sports and cultural activities from swamp football to modern opera are available almost everywhere.
Well –organized country
– Finland is a well-organized and efficient society. We rely on (and can rely on!) our general infrastructure as both public and private services are run effectively.
– Banking, safety, technology – you name it: everything works!–
– What is the impact of the economic crises on education in Finland?
– The Finnish education system is still today financed almost entirely from public funds. Part of the financing comes from the state budget, the other part from municipalities. Even tuition in universities is practically free of charge. This is also a way to promote social equality, one of the cornerstones of our society.
– Regardless of the economic situation the Finnish government continues to allocate more money to education and strives to keep the share of the GDP given for education every year.
– What types of professionals are most wanted in Finland now?
– According to the Employment Bulletin May 2012 of the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy there are most new vacancies at service and social and health care branches.
Press release of the Employment Bulletin:
– What % of GDP is allocated to education in Finland?
– In 2010 6,4 % of GDP was allocated to education, and the amount of funds has continued to increase every.
– What is the approximate number of Bulgarians living in Finland?
– There are around 800 Bulgarians living in Finland according to the official data.