Sai Väyrynen

Sai Väyrynen [Ph.D.(Ed.), MA (Ed.), MA (Special Ed.), Docent /Adjunct Professor (Education)]

Sai has been involved in the development of inclusive education since 1993.

She has a teaching career as a primary school teacher in Helsinki, and she has also worked as a special needs education teacher in Helsinki and Rovaniemi, Finland.

Sai has more than two decades of service in international education as an adviser to a number of Ministries of Education in developing countries. She has also experience in the UN system through her work as a programme specialist at UNESCO. Sai has trained teacher educators and teachers, made presentations in international fora, as well as written, reviewed and edited a number of articles and resource materials. She has working experience from several African countries, and countries in transition in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. She has lived and worked in Zimbabwe, France, South Africa, Tanzania and Ethiopia, and studied in the UK.

In Finland, Sai has worked as a ‘critical friend’ or mentor in an early childhood education development initiative in a municipality in Southern Finland. She gives continuous professional development courses in inclusive education for practicing teachers and pre-primary educators, and her students have appreciated her ability to translate theories into practice. She has explored the processes of inclusion and exclusion in her doctoral thesis on two different schools in Finland and South Africa, and her research interests are related to development of inclusive education, ethnography and critical theory. In 2009-2015 she worked as a Senior Lecturer in Special Needs Education at the Faculty of Education, University of Lapland, and led an international inclusive education project in three universities in Finland and North-West Russia. She has been working as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Helsinki, Open University since 2015, and took leave-on-absence after being appointed as Counsellor (education) at the Embassy of Finland, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2017-2020. In Ethiopia, she co-chaired the donors’ and Ministry of Education’s coordinating group. She is now back at the University of Helsinki, leading the Global Innovation Network for Teaching and Learning (GINTL), coordinated by the University of Helsinki.

Sai works in Finnish, English and French.