Finnish ex-minister to lead International Baccalaureate

New IB director-general is Finnish educationalist who wants to tackle the 'global learning and teaching crisis'

Catherine Lough

Olli-Pekka Heinonen, a Finnish former minister, will be the new director-general of the International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate has appointed a Finnish education leader and former minister as its new director-general, to start from 1 May.

Olli-Pekka Heinonen has been appointed to the role after the current director-general, Siva Kumari, announced she was stepping down in November.


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Mr Heinonen most recently served as director-general of the Finnish National Agency for Education, which focuses on developing education and training, early years education and lifelong learning.

The agency also prepares the national core curriculum for general and early childhood education in Finland.

New International Baccalaureate boss vows to 'further develop the mission' 

Prior to leading the National Agency for Education, Mr Heinonen held various positions in the Finnish government, including state secretary and minister of education and science, as well as senior commercial roles in the Finnish National Broadcasting Company.

Mr Heinonen works with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and other international organisations to contribute views on the future of education, and is a regular speaker at global educational forums. 

Mr Heinonen said it was clear that there was a "global learning and teaching crisis" magnified by the pandemic, and that he was looking forward to addressing these challenges.

Dr Helen Drennen, chair of the IB board, added: “The IB board is delighted and privileged to welcome Mr Olli-Pekka Heinonen as the new director-general at a time of great change across the world.

"He will bring a leading, influential voice to shaping the future of international education and to the next era of the IB.“

Mr Heinonen said: “I am honoured to join the IB community to further develop the mission of creating a better world through education. It is clear that we are suffering from a global learning and teaching crisis, and Covid-19 has magnified these challenges.

"I am looking forward to working together with schools and educators to develop solutions to address these challenges and find ways to develop a strong future for our students.".

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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