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IB Director-General

EducationWorld August 2023 | EducationWorld People
-Paromita Sengupta (Bengaluru)
Olli 2

Heinonen (centre): successful Festival of Hope

Finland-born Olli Pekka Heinonen is Director-General of the globally respected Geneva-based International Baccalaureate (IB, estb.1968) examinations board which offers Primary and Middle Years curriculums, International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) and the International Baccalaureate Career-Related Programme (IBCP) school-leaving examinations written by higher secondary students worldwide.

Newspeg. In late May, Heinonen was in India (Gurugram and Mumbai) to launch IB’s Festival of Hope initiative in collaboration with Pathways School, Gurgaon and Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai. This festival was attended by students of 100 IB-affiliated schools in India. Designed to unite the global community around the most pressing challenges the world is facing, the festival successfully brought together IB students to engage in impactful dialogues through a combination of in-person workshops and exhibitions.

History. A law postgraduate of Helsinki University, Heinonen served in several top leadership positions of the Finnish government as minister of education and science (1994-1999); senior commercial officer of the Finnish National Broadcasting Company (2002-2012); and State Secretary (2012-2016). Between 2016-2021 he served as Director-General of the Finnish National Agency for Education.

Heinonen is also actively engaged with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and other global organisations, where he contributes his expertise on the future of education including personalised and lifelong learning, the impact of technology and professional development of educators. In 2021, he accepted an invitation from IB to take charge of this prestigious international examinations board which has over 5,600 high-end affiliated schools in 159 countries including 209 in India.

Direct talk. “The Festival of Hope started in the UK and US to support innovative ideas and conversations that translate into positive action. The exhibits by students in Gurugram and Mumbai have proven to be powerful testimonials of this vision. What we experienced was truly phenomenal and has strengthened our conviction in the potential of students in India benefiting from the IB and IBCP curriculums. I am especially pleased with the growth of the IBCP programme in India. While in Mumbai, I visited the Children’s Academy International School which is the latest school to affiliate with us to offer its students the IBCP program in the academic year 2023-24. Our partnership agreement with the Haryana State Board of Education on teacher education was another highlight of my India tour,” says Heinonen.

Future plans. Currently, Heinonen is focused on fulfilling IB’s 2030 goals. “We are fully committed to the continuous improvement of IB’s support systems and services and new initiatives that will transform the higher secondary education landscape. The reception of schools in India to the IB and IBCP has been very positive. I am confident that with the Indian government’s National Education Policy 2020 welcoming foreign universities to establish campuses in India, the number of IB-affiliated schools will multiply,” says Heinonen.

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