Pasi Sahlberg

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Pasi Sahlberg for Public Education Day

In my global education mission I’ve been often asked: What is the most important thing you learned in school? Much of what was taught to me I have forgotten but one lesson will stay with me: Experience-based understanding that we are one but not the same.

I spent 12 years in public schools as a student with wide range of different youngsters from varying backgrounds. Still, we learned to be together, accept our differences, and respect one another as human beings. On my professional journey this has been critically important that has influenced me as a teacher, husband and father. But public education in Australia differs from what I left behind in Finland a couple of years ago.

We live in Sydney now where our children go to neighbourhood public school. If I would have the power to change one thing in our public education, I would make sure that public education would be 100% public – everything that children and parents need should be paid by the government. And more than that, public schools should be funded so that those schools that serve children who need more support and special care to succeed should get enough resources to do so from nation’s education budgets.

During the covid-19 that is more important than ever before. This pandemic exacerbates the effects and awareness of pre-existing social inequalities in our society. Strong public education system is the best guarantee for our nation to recover from the crisis with minimum harm to our children and each and every one of us.

Thanks for having me with you in this.


Professor of Education, University of NSW Gonski Institute for Education