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Bringing play-based learning to India

“Learning happens naturally through everyday activities and goes beyond just curriculum,” said Lasse Lipponen, founder of Hei Schools.

Bringing play-based learning to India
[Source photo: Shireen Khan/Press Insider]

Finnish education firm Hei Schools this week announced the opening of its first two schools in India: at Bangalore and Gurugram.

The kindergartens, developed in collaboration with the University of Helsinki, will incorporate the Hei Schools curriculum, inspired by Finnish pedagogy, while also complying with India’s National Education Policy.

The company has set up their learning centers all around the world, including countries like Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, China, Egypt, Malaysia, and Argentina.

The schools are known for their focus on play-based learning, inspired by the Finnish education system and preparing children for the future through creativity, critical thinking, and social-emotional development.

The announcement comes as part of Hei’s global expansion plans.

Lasse Lipponen, founder of Hei Schools and a professor of education at the University of Helsinki told Press Insider that instead of ‘implementing’ the concept of Hei Schools from top down, they would rather take a collaborative approach. 

“We want to respect the local cultures and because there is a Hei School in every continent, we accept cultural differences when it comes to education. The idea of play-based learning in the Finnish pedagogy is something that we want to take everywhere with us, that learning shouldn’t be treated like office work,” he said.  

Finnish early education ditches the cog-in-the-machine approach for a more play-like environment and instead of children competing with each other, and learning happens naturally through everyday activities, according to Lipponen, and goes beyond just curriculum.

Tito Gronow, the deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Finland in India also shared that education is one of the key priority sectors for the Nordic country. Ranking fourth in the United Nations Development Program’s 2019 education index, the country assigns an immense importance to an education system that starts early. 

“India is a growing market and we have seen the country gain both political and economic importance at a global stage in the last 25 years. Its significant population and segments in the society create an education market where parents are constantly on the lookout for the best of the best. I believe Finland can definitely provide a better option for parents when it comes to a balanced early education,” said Gronow. 

The franchise concept of the schools includes a comprehensive teacher-training program, carried out onsite by Finnish educators to make sure that the pedagogy is implemented in the right way. 

“The Finnish model is very progressive, so the teachers we look for have to have an open mind and willingness to do things a little bit differently than what their personal experience was back when they were children,” said Heikki Vartia, director of partnerships at Hei Schools.

“We have more inquiries coming out of India than from any other country, right now. We have shortlisted multiple locations for future branches, like Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, and Chennai,” he said.


Shireen Khan is a Senior Correspondent at Press Insider. She covers lifestyle, culture, and health. More

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