A presidential delegation from Iceland visited the University of Turku in May to sign an MOU that brings Finland’s anti-bullying programme KiVa one step closer to Icelandic schools. The signatories to the agreement will now be able to launch a formal process for evaluating the implementation of the KiVa programme in Iceland’s 180 primary and secondary schools.
The President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson gave a speech at the signing of the MOU as a part of his state visit to Finland.
Developed in Finland by the University of Turku, KiVa is one of the world’s only evidence-based programmes for tackling school bullying. KiVa and its international partners licensed to run the programme have been widely recognized both in Finland and abroad, receiving the European Crime Prevention Award in 2009, national awards in Finland on multiple occasions, and most recently the National Violence Prevention Award from the Estonian Ministry of Justice. Today, the programme is used by schools in 19 countries around the world.
KiVa – which means “nice” in Finnish – is effective because it tackles bullying as a group phenomenon; as a behaviour that bullies use to gain, demonstrate and maintain power among their peers. This insight is central to the programme’s structure and teaching methods.
Signing the MOU: Finland University CEO Pekka T. Saavalainen (left), Rector of the University of Turku, Professor Kalervo Väänänen and Assistant Professor at the University of Iceland’s School of Education Halldóra Vanda Sigurgeirsdóttir.
Presidential support from Iceland
Iceland’s participation in KiVa is being driven by Halldóra Vanda Sigurgeirsdóttir, an assistant professor at the University of Iceland’s School of Education. She has been working with bullying and other childhood social problems for more than 30 years.
“The main reason I want Iceland to look more closely at KiVa is because we don't have any evidence-based programmes in use in our schools,” she says. “I like how KiVa is a tried-and-tested framework, and how it takes the social aspect of bullying strongly into account.”
“I’m very proud of our president for being so interested in preventing bullying in Iceland’s schools that he has even put the topic on the agenda for a state visit to Finland! I also think Finland should be very proud of KiVa.”
KiVa around the world
Iceland would be the fourth Nordic country to implement KiVa. In addition to its use in Finnish schools, 14 schools in Sweden as well as one international school in Norway also run the programme.
As KiVa recognises and tackles universal behaviours and peer dynamics, the programme can be adapted and implemented in any international context. For example, there is currently a large KiVa evaluation study taking place in Chile’s capital Santiago, where the programme has been implemented in some 33 schools for underprivileged children.
The KiVa programme is continuosly developed and can be adapted and implemented in any international context. Christina Salmivalli (right), Professor at the University of Turku, is one of the main researchers behind the programme.
The University of Turku’s Professor Christina Salmivalli, one of the main researchers behind KiVa, says her team is continuously developing the programme with new understanding and support materials.
“Something we are currently very interested in is learning more about KiVa’s sustainability; about why some schools stick with the programme for 10 years or more, and others don’t. Our researchers are now visiting schools in Finland to find answers to this question,” says Salmivalli.
“At the same time, we’re also bringing several new things into the programme, including updates to our materials for teachers.”
Photos: Hanna Oksanen, University of Turku
Additional information: Ari Koski, Key Account Manager, Finland University, firstname.lastname@example.org
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