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Finnish school entrepreneurship programme wins education innovation award

A Finnish learning concept focusing on entrepreneurship, economy and society has been named the winner of the 2014 World Innovation Summit for Education. The project, known as Me & My City, was judged to be of outstanding quality and to have achieved exceptional impact through its target sixth grade students.

The Me & My School project exposes sixth grade students to a slice of life by introducing them to entrepreneurship, working life and society. Image: Yle

This school year around 70 percent of Finnish sixth-graders will participate in the Me & My City project, which gives students a chance to get their feet wet in working life, entrepreneurship and community activities.

The learning environment takes the form of a mini-city, where students practice the professions of their choice and participate in the micro-society as consumers and citizens. There are currently six such mini-cities operational and the programme is funded by the Ministry of Education, local governments, the private sector and various foundations.

The programme was developed by the Economic Information Office TAT and may be introduced in other countries; given its recognition by the judges’ panel of the World Innovation Summit for Education. The project received the award for unique and innovative education projects.

“Hundreds of different education projects from around the world participated in the judging. Nearly all of the most important players in the education industry are part of the WISE network. Now they want to follow the operations of the projects and its expansion, and they will support us in the future,” said project chief executive Tomi Alakoski.

Project generating interest abroad

The WISE award is not the first time Me & My City has been internationally recognised. Last year it received an award from the European Commission for promoting entrepreneurship.  This year’s WISE award and the international attention it has created may give rise to even more interest from abroad.

“Norway, South Africa and Britain have been very much interested. Sweden has visited Finland twice to review the project and we have also travelled there to present the concept. The city of Stockholm has given a green light for the project and is now looking for funding. Perhaps this programme will become another export product,” Alakoski added.

Two additional projects in Finland

Finland will launch two new Me & My City projects in Espoo and Oulu this school year.

“Then there will be a total of eight Me & My City projects and we are planning another in southeast Finland,” Alakoski explained.

When the eighth project is up and running, some 40,000 sixth graders representing 70 percent of their age group will be taking advantage of the programme. Project organisers say that it may be expanded to include upper students from grades seven to nine.

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