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International Partnerships
News announcement3 June 2021Directorate-General for International Partnerships2 min read

Special Advisers to Commissioner Urpilainen appointed on Education and Youth

The EU will invest in quality education, including digital education, paying particular attention to the inclusion of girls and women and other vulnerable groups

The College has endorsed the nomination of two Special Advisers to Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships. Dr. Ritva Reinikka was appointed as Special Adviser on Education, and Bitania Lulu Berhanu as Special Adviser on Youth.

These appointments send a strong signal of this Commission’s and my personal determination that youth and education must be at the heart of our International Partnerships. I strongly believe that young people have the potential to transform their societies, and education and skills will empower them to do that. We must listen to young people but also invest with impact in education. This is why I have launched a Youth Sounding Board and decided to increase to 10% the funding for Education in the regions under my responsibility,” said Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen.

Special Adviser on Education

Dr. Ritva Reinikka has significant expertise in development policy and practice. Her career includes 20 years of combining research and operations at the World Bank, culminating in directorship of the Human Development department in the Africa Region. She also co-directed the 2004 World Development Report Making Services Work for Poor People.

Dr. Reinikka holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oxford, where she was a researcher at the Centre for the Study of African Economies. In 2014, she was awarded the annual prize of the Finnish Cultural Foundation for her contribution to academic development economics and practical development policy. She is currently Professor of Practice at Helsinki Graduate School of Economics, and has been advising on Finland’s development policy.

Education is central to the European Union’s political objectives of equality, human development and sustainable development, and Commissioner Urpilainen has decided to increase its allocation to 10% of the portfolio under her responsibility. The Special Adviser on Education, Dr. Reinikka, will be able to offer valuable insights into the most effective use of these funds.

Special Adviser on Youth

Bitania Lulu Berhanu has helped establish several youth-led programs, and played key interventional roles for Youth Inclusive policies and projects nationally, continentally, and globally. She has been the voice of the youth at several dialogues with Heads of States and policymakers.

Ms. Berhanu holds a Master of Arts in Human and Economic Development in African Studies from Addis Ababa University. She is the founding Executive Director of YALDA Addis Ababa University (YALDA-AAU), where she partnered with the African Union Commission to hold the first ever AU AGENDA 2063 Youth Summit. She currently works as Researcher at the Centre for Dialogue, Research and Cooperation (CDRC) and chairs the Amref Youth Advisory Group.

Ms. Berhanu’s passion and commitment to sustainable development have been recognised with a listing in Africa Youth Award's 100 Most Influential Young Africans in 2016. Commissioner Urpilainen will consult her on the best ways to promote youth participation and empowerment through international partnerships, with a particular focus on youth in Africa.


Publication date
3 June 2021
Directorate-General for International Partnerships