Keynote Speakers


Pasi Sahlberg is Finnish educator, author and scholar. He has worked as schoolteacher, teacher educator, researcher and policy advisor in Finland and has studied education systems and policies around the world. In his long career in education he has served the World Bank in Washington, DC, the European Commission in Torino, Italy, and the OECD as an education expert. He is an advisor to several governments about education and chairs the Open Society Foundation’s global education advisory board. His recent books include “Finnish Lessons 2.0: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland” (2015) and “FinnishED Leadership: Four Big, Inexpensive Ideas to Transform Education” (2018). His new book with William Doyle is “Let the Children Play: Why More Play Will Save Our Schools and Help Children Thrive” (2019).

His professional honours and awards include the 2012 Education Award in Finland, the 2013 Grawemeyer Award in the United States, the 2014 Robert Owen Award in Scotland, 2016 Lego Award in Denmark, and 2017 Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency. He is a former Director General of CIMO (Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation) at the Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture in Helsinki and visiting Professor of Practice at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. Pasi is Professor of Education Policy at the Gonski Institute for Education, University of New South Wales in Sydney. More on his website: and Twitter: @pasi_sahlberg.

Keynote: Let the Children Play
For as long as there have been children, they have learned through play. They have learned by moving, exploring, discovering, practicing and experimenting with life. Play, both intellectual and physical, is critical for the healthy growth and learning of a child. Despite strong medical and scientific consensus for play as a foundation of education, play is an increasingly endangered experience for many of the world’s children.

This presentation will focus on children’s play as an essential element of early childhood education, learning and growing up - including looking at how children around the world experience early childhood education today and providing a case study of the Finnish model of play-based early childhood education. Conclusions include practical suggestions to early childhood educators and leaders to strengthen the role of play or otherwise improve work with young children.