Ii Upper Secondary School has been co-operating Micropolis-centre, which has a central role in the local economy in Ii. Since 1996, our partner has been Detection Technology, Inc (DT).
To start with, our forms of co-operation included student and teacher visits to the company's local operations whereby the students had an opportunity to acquaint themselves with their high-tech production line. The company has organised a visiting lecturer at our school as well as given out grants to students who have shown progress in their studies. Both parties have expressed their willingness to take the co-operation further and in autumn 2003 a project was set afoot whereby the profile would be sharpened. The name of the project is Destination Beijing.
In autumn 2003 a project group of six first-year students was formed. A central focus for the project is to study the forms and requirements of operation in an international company. Often the approach involves studies in English or Physics. We hope the project will encourage students towards entrepreneurism. As regards educational methods, we intend to develop a new form of co-operation, in which the other party is a commercial company. We will also study the possibilities offered by PowerPoint computer program in reporting the results. One general aim is widening the worldview of students (and teachers) beyond the borders of Europe.
The municipality of Ii hopes that the company commits itself even further to its operations in Ii while, in the long run, the company looks for workforce willing to commit themselves to long terms of employment in Ii. It is important to make young people realise that their place of origin offers opportunities of livelihood and it is possible to come back to work there after a period of studies elsewhere.
In autumn 2003 a visiting lecturer from DT came to speak about the requirements for an employee in an international corporation. The students involved in the project monitor the media and collect information on the company (e.g. the nomination of the company's CEO as Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2003), on China (e.g. space research, the Olympics, language and culture) and on Beijing. This information is placed on a notice board for all the students to see. Students and teachers of Physics have familiarised themselves with the company's operations. The project group are currently learning to make a PowerPoint presentation in English about Finland, Finnish Upper Secondary School in general and more specifically the one in Ii as well as about our hometown Ii and our co-operation with DT. In April 2005, the results of our work will be presented at DT facilities in Beijing and a school in Beijing. The results of our project and a journal of our visit in China will be placed on our website.
The project work is integrated into normal everyday schoolwork although obviously a large part of the activities take place outside lessons. An attempt is made to offer the visiting lectures to all students. The whole school as well as the upper grades of Ii comprehensive school are kept informed about the progress of project work. One indirect aim for various international projects carried out at Ii Upper Secondary School is increasing the younger pupils' interest towards studies at Upper Secondary.
The project costs are covered by a grant from the National Board of Education and municipal funding. A sizeable portion of the money needed comes from the students and their families. We have sought different ways of earning funds and have been able to find some suitable sources of income. In addition to the actual money received, activity like this supports the central theme of the project, entrepreneurism.
While the culmination of our project approaches, we have also thought about the future. We have decided to look into possibilities of finding the funds and human resources for enhancing some forms of co-operation to the extent that they might even be part of the formal curriculum. We are also interested in joining or forming networks with schools and companies with similar aspirations.