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Ville Kohvakka, Swedish People's Party of Finland

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Election Talk gives candidates running in the municipal elections a chance to discuss their views on the increasingly international aspect of Finnish society, as well as how this will affect their work if they are elected. Voting will take place on 9 April 2017, with advance voting between 29 March and 4 April.

In a global economy cities are becoming more and more important, both culturally and financially. Cities are truly global centers of encounter. As a candidate in the municipal elections, I see the connection between Helsinki and the rest of the world as one of the most important questions in our near future. Helsinki must be a city where people from overseas can move to as easily as possible. We need a labor force and skilled experts to strengthen the economy. In return, we must allow people to be part of Finnish society. Housing must be available for a reasonable price, and families should be able to find healthcare, daycare, primary schools and other forms of education with ease. This is a fair deal. Helsinki needs to be developed into a true international hub where everybody from everywhere is welcome.

One person cannot give the answers and solutions to all existing problems. I have worked for 12 years within the Finnish school system as a teacher, author and Director of the Society and Economics Stream at Kulosaari Secondary School, which means that I can emphasize with a good conscience the importance of education. Being part of a school community is the most natural way for citizens to engage with Finnish society. Here they can live the same life as the locals. This doesn’t only apply to children, but adults as well. As a candidate this is something I think Helsinki can do better. For those staying here temporarily, there must be enough schools that can offer an education in English and other European languages. For those settling, good schools should be the key to integrate them into Finnish society. This certainly does not mean giving up your own identity, but rather integrating yourself into an international Finland.

At Kulosaari Secondary School we provide education in both English and Finnish. Students study according to the Finnish curriculum, but mostly in English. Our school gives an opportunity for international families to be “Finnish” and for Finnish families to be part of an international community. Altogether we have 43 different nationalities in our school – learning, taking exams, dancing the traditional Vanhojen tanssit and graduating from secondary school – side by side. In our international politics course we have Finnish, Russian, Estonian, American, as well as Jewish and Muslim students, discussing global conflicts and climate change. We believe bringing people together is the answer. We do not fear one another – we enjoy one another’s company. Where someone might see a threat we see an opportunity. I want to see Helsinki’s future looking like our school does today.

Ville Kohvakka

- Candidate for Helsinki, representing the Swedish People’s Party of Finland (SFP-RKP) in the Finnish municipal elections 2017
- Born 25th August 1977
- Worked as a teacher for 12 years
- Currently Director of the Society and Economics Stream at Kulosaari Secondary School
- Author for Sanoma Learning & Education
- Part of Model European Parliament and United Nations educational programmes
- Loves sailing, cycling and rugby

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