(MENAFN - Arab News) Finland will be the honored country at this year's International Exhibition and Forum for Education (IEFE "2013), Naif Al-Roumi, Under- Secretary for Planning and Development at the Ministry of Education, announced.
The five-day event is being organized by the Ministry of Education under the aegis of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
Al-Roumi made the announcement at a press conference on Saturday after signing contracts with the event's main sponsors, including Saudi Aramco, Tatweer, Education Experts, Obeikan, Saudi Research and Marketing Group and Numu Al Elmia.
The under-secretary said: "Assessment for Improvement and Development" will be the theme of this year's event to be held February 18-22, at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center. Over 200 companies (foreign and domestic) representing more than 20 countries are participating in the event.
Responding to a question on Finland being chosen as the guest of honor, he said that until the late 1970s, Finland was classified as the least successful European country in the field of education. However, it has managed to reverse that status situation in a short time.
"Finland has recorded the historic achievements of topping the United Nations annual list of leading countries in education. The UN classification is based on testing," he said, adding, "This year's event will present the most distinguished and successful international experiences related to the improvement of education environment and development strategies."
Finland's Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Jarno Syrjala, told Arab News in an exclusive interview that this event demonstrates again the importance of education as the bedrock for development in the Kingdom.
The extensive efforts and investments have made it clear that education is one of the key tools for the Saudi Government for developing the Saudi society into a knowledge-based society, he added
"Today's Finland is one of the nations that tops the international rankings in various research reports. From our point of view, one of the key factors behind the success is definitely education and investments in it," he said.
"Today, for many, we are the model for creating an efficient and sustainable educational system," he added.
"We also see that our know-how and expertise is something that we should share with the rest of the world. This is why we are happy to participate in IEFE 2013. We bring to Riyadh our best experts and companies.
"We are deeply honored to be the official guest country at the IEFE 2013," the envoy said adding "we are sure that IEFE 2013 will be a great success."
The Third IEFE-2013 includes over 200 companies (local and overseas) representing more than 20 countries. As many as 43 foreign and local experts will address the event including speakers from the US, Finland, Britain, Switzerland, Singapore, France, and Spain besides local and Arab experts. It will also feature about 113 activities during the event.
Saudi government policy is focused on infrastructure and social programs. Over the last five years, the Saudi Budget has markedly increased from 28.12 billion to the highest level ever of 54.54 billion in 2012. The allocation of such a large budget to the education sector reflects the government's focus on the development of education, science and technology.