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President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, and the Finnish President, Sauli Niinistö, ready to start official discussions at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on October 20 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, was greeted with fanfares and a red carpet at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday morning, as she arrived in Finland for discussions and luncheon with President Sauli Niinistö. She also sat at the round table of investment company Finpro and took a spin around Aalto University. In the evening, she met with prime minister Juha Sipilä.

Rousseff visited Finland from Sweden, where she confirmed Brazil buying 36 JAS fighter aircrafts by the Swedish aerospace and defence company, Saab.

In Finland, Rousseff focused on business and pedagogical subjects, as the presidents discussed bilateral relations and cooperation within the fields of science, technology and education.


Presidents, Rousseff and Niinistö arriving at the press conference. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

At the press conference, Rousseff emphasised Brazil’s interest in the Finnish education system and teacher training.

“We would like to step up our cooperation for teacher training development for both through basic education and as well as technical and vocational education,” Rousseff said.

According to, nearly 18 per cent of the Brazilian population is functionally illiterate: they know words and numbers but are unable to comprehend a sentence or perform a simple mathematical operation. In addition, according to a study by a research company Ibope, 38 per cent of Brazilian undergraduates are also functionally illiterate. This is mainly because of the fragile and poor public education in public schools, which suffer from lack of teachers and overcrowded classrooms.

The Finns have long prided themselves on their educational expertise, and their stellar results in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) have increased the Finnish educational system’s reputation abroad.

“President Rousseff has lifted the renewals of the education sector as the main theme of the government. We are very happy to present the know-how of Finland,” President Niinistö said.

“Our cooperation has started for example in student exchange programmes and teacher training. We have a mutual goal and interest to increase this cooperation further.”

[divider]Dilma Rousseff[/divider]

Brazilian politician who in 2011 became Brazil’s first female president.

Rousseff was raised in an upper-middle-class household. Her father was a lawyer who immigrated to Brazil from Bulgaria, and her mother was a teacher. In her teens, Rousseff became involved in the left-wing opposition to the government. She was associated with the militant group National Liberation Command. In 1970, she was imprisoned for three years on the charge of subversion and during that time was subjected to torture by her captors.

Upon her release in 1973, Rousseff resumed her education; she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre in 1977. As the grip of the dictatorship weakened, Rousseff became active in local politics, and she was appointed finance secretary for Porto Alegre in 1986.

In 1999, she became affiliated with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores). Her standing in the party quickly rose, and she left her government job in 2002 to serve on the staff of Lula’s successful presidential campaign.

Upon taking office in 2003, Lula appointed Rousseff minister of mines and energy, and she was named chair of the Brazilian state-run oil concern Petrobrás.

Rousseff became President Lula’s successor in 2011, capturing some 56 percent of votes. She was sworn into office on Jan. 1, 2011.

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica


Tony Öhberg