How Finland’s education system inspires the DreamStarter project

May 14, 2019 11:43
Finland's educational institutions have won acclaim for their student entrepreneurship programs. Photo: Bloomberg

I was in Sweden recently to share some insights on the DreamStarter project. Inspired by Finland’s education policy, DreamStarter has achieved a lot in Hong Kong.

DreamStarter is a community initiative that makes dream projects initiated by students come true, providing assistance through raising awareness, mentoring, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing support. Hong Kong students usually excel in reading, mathematics and science in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). However, local students have to pay a high price for that, such as lengthy learning hours and great academic stress.

It has been found in the past that except for primary school pupils, most students in Hong Kong had no dream at all, other than getting into elite colleges or buying their own properties someday.

A couple of years ago, I joined a group of passionate teachers on a trip to Finland. We wanted to find a solution based on their education system.

The Nordic nation has a similar population as Hong Kong. Its economic scale and PISA ranking are far behind that of Hong Kong, Shanghai or Singapore. But its education system excels.

Borrowing directly from Finland may not work, so we have to adopt the 'think global, act local' approach.

We decided to copy the model of crowdfunding website Kickstarter to DreamStarter. Students are encouraged to write their business plans and raise funds. Schools are setting aside time for them to start up their business and instill innovation, and encouraging the students to think like entrepreneurs. Simply speaking, children need to think and learn independently and possess a positive mindset in solving problems.

DreamStarter has turned out to be a big success. It was listed as setting a world record for fund-raising by children below 18. The program was also recognized by the UNESCO.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 10

Translation by Julie Zhu

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Hong Kong Information Technology Federation Chairman