Plenary speakers

Prof. Heikki Lyytinen, UNESCO Chair on Inclusive Literacy Learning for All (2015-2022)

Prof. Heikki Lyytinen, the Emeritus Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology at the Dept. of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, and UNESCO Chair on Inclusive Literacy Learning for All, will be the opening plenary presenter at the 4th Baltic Sea Conference on Literacy


As UNESCO Chair on Inclusive Literacy Learning for All (2015-19 and 2019-2021) he is focusing on GraphoLearn research to show that the digital learning environment distributed by GraphoGame succeeds in helping children globally to become literate, that is to overcome biological/genetic bottlenecks and compromised opportunities to receive sufficient instruction.

His previous work includes the following large-scale research projects:
-Learning Disorders as a Barrier to Human Development (EU-COST A8) 1994-1998 (the founder and chair through the entirety of the action)
-Jyväskylä Longitudinal study of Dyslexia (JLD), leader and PI
-Center of Excellence “Human Development and Its Risk Factors” (Vice director) funded by the Academy of Finland 1997- (JLD as a central project of the CoE)
-Centre of Excellence (CoE) “Learning and Motivation” (Vice-leader of the Center) funded by the Academy of Finland 2006-2011 (JLD as a central project of the CoE)
-LukiMat 2007- leader of the Ministry of Education funded operation for building for Finnish children a digital support service of the acquisition of basic scholastic skills
-RESUZ –Reading Support for Zambian children (PI, Academy of Finland (2010-12)
-Predicting and supporting reading acquisition via computer games for children at risk for dyslexia (PI, Chile-Finland collaborative project, Academy of Finland) 2010-2012
-Comenius FLUENT – A Science-based tool for training fluency in literacy for teachers and learners (PI, funded by EU 2011-2013)
-CAPOLSA – the Finnish founding representative of the Centre for the Promotion of the Literacy in the Sub-Saharan Africa (in the University of Zambia; 2011-)
-GRAPHOWORLD – founder & chair of the GraphoWorld Network of Excellence supporting the development of the GraphoGame (GG) with representatives eg. from e.g. Cambridge, Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, Yale, Zurich universities (2011-), see
-GLIDE PI, Tekes 2012-15 for building of “entity” for the preparation of global distribution of the GG
-SAVI, collaborative research with US-experts for building support of reading comprehension, Academy of Finland & National Science Foundation (US) (2013-15)

Presentation on the topic: 
Early identification and prevention of compromised acquisition of the basic reading skill

Two big studies will be summarized. One is based on the Jyväskylä Longitudinal study of Dyslexia (JLD) and the other on the work resulting in regiment of preventive training of children who are at risk of dyslexia whose detection the JLD offers valid tools.  The preventive training is based on a digital game based on GraphoLearn technology, which has been developed to help children to learn the basic reading skill in an enjoyable way - originally in Finland and today in more than 30 languages. It advices teachers in the identification of children who had to be motivated to use the game as a preventive training environment at the beginning of the first grade so that they would not need to face an experience of being different from their classmates in reading acquisition. Around 10 to 15 % of children in developed world and close to 100% in many African countries are in need of such support for learning the basic reading skill to reach the developmentally typical reading level. Our basic principle of developing the training regimen is that the efficiency of the implementation of the content to each reading environment/writing system has to-be documented by published empirical research. It advises users in each country how to get the full benefits from its dissemination to children and teachers. This presentation describes the 20 years process from the original idea of how reading acquisition can be compromised and then how to  overcome the related problems independent whether these are biologically based or due to insufficient instruction or social support  including the proceedings in making it open to-be distributed to global use as GraphoGame.

Anu Raud, Professor Emeritus

Anu Raud is one of Estonia’s leading textile artists.


Since graduating from the Estonian Art Academy (Estonian State Art Institute at the time) Raud has been involved in researching and collecting Estonian folk art. Anu Raud worked as a professor at Estonian Art Academy for 20 years (1972-1995) and from 1994-2001 Raud was a professor of Viljandi Culture Academy. She is a member of Estonian Academy of Science since 2016.

Anu Raud has designed several works to decorate public buildings and held numerous personal exhibitions in Estonia and abroad. Anu Raud’s “Emapuu” (Mother Tree; 1995) is located at UN’s headquarters in New York. She uses folk art as a springboard to tell stories about simple things that create continuity and serve particular pedagogical functions or embody the nationhood and basic values to be eternal. By emphasising roots and ancestry, heritage naturalises the conditions of belonging and diverts attention away from inequalities among ‘heirs’, and away from contemporary issues of unity and diversity waiting to be addressed in Estonia and elsewhere.

While Anu Raud summons her audience as the inheritors of ancestral wisdom, she also lives what she preaches. She left Tallinn nearly two decades ago to settle on her grandparents’ farmstead in southern Estonia and has since developed it into a centre for studying and experiencing folk art. In the early 1990s, a period of harsh economic uncertainties, Raud used the money she had made from selling her works in Sweden to buy an adjacent old school building and turned it into a museum that houses her vast collection of Estonian traditional folk art, which she started while still a student. In 2009, when the Estonian National Museum celebrated its 100th anniversary, she donated the museum building and its contents to the Estonian state.

She said:

I come from a family of writers, where verbal communication, words and sentences, are in the centre of attention. My favourites are words of gratitude and magic, both of which are in short supply in our modern times.

There are three types of knowledge in this world: emotional intelligence, wisdom gained from experiences and book learning. For me the first two are more important. Not so much the book learning, rather the creativity, life experience and know-how of making/ doing something, and seeing the bigger picture.

Anud Raud has received several awards and honors including state 3rd Class Order of the White Star for preserving national art traditions in 1998 and Estonian National Lifetime Achievement Award of Culture 2018.