Espoo Me & MyCity has begun operations at the Nokia Campus in Karaportti. It introduces sixth-graders, aged 12 and 13, to working life, entrepreneurship and society. They work in a profession, are paid a salary and function as citizens and consumers in a miniature city in both private and public sector organisations. Me & MyCity implements the objectives of entrepreneurship education as set by the City of Espoo. Entrepreneurship, education and working life skills are part of the core curriculum for basic education.
Directors, employees, customers
The first day is busy in the city as the pupils from three classes get to work. They pay bills and salaries, do their shopping using their own bank cards and apply for loans during the day, all according to the set script. Each child has their own role: there are managing directors, bank managers, employees and, of course, a mayor.
The highlight of the morning is the general meeting, where Oona, the 'Mayor', makes a speech.
"Please remember that together we are the city. By collaborating and following the rules we can ensure that things work smoothly and the city functions."
The Mayor reminds the residents to vote and and to ensure that companies are not ignored, but good customer service must be available at all times.
"Let's make sure that we work hard and are always polite."
After the Mayor's speech the managing directors of the various companies, bank manager, shop keepers and other entrepreneurs give a short speech about their businesses.
Oona thought that giving the speech to the other residents was the best thing about the day.
"The day will definitely be busy as I'll have to cover for a friend and do her job as well," says the energetic Mayor.
The best entrepreneurship education in the world
The Finnish Economic Information Office (TAT) coordinates the Me & MyCity project, which is a study solution for sixth-graders that covers society, working life and entrepreneurship. It was recently recognised as the best educational innovation by the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE). The Me & MyCity package includes ten lessons at school and a day-long visit to the city. The Me & MyCity project is organised by the Economic Information Office, which supplies the schools with books that help pupils to familiarise themselves with questions such as the basics of economy and society and their roles as employees and consumers in the city. During the lessons the pupils write a job application and go to a job interview, for example. While in the city, they work, earn money and pay taxes, and they also learn to control their spending.
Some 5,000 sixth-graders from Western Uusimaa, along with their teachers, visit Me & MyCity Espoo every school year. The partner municipalities are Kauniainen, Kirkkonummi and Vihti, and pupils from these towns come to Me & MyCity Espoo to study how business and society works. Their teachers participate in an afternoon-long training before the lessons.
Students from various institutions, including Laurea, Omnia, Luksia and Prakticum, instruct the children whilst they are in the city. The concept is provided in both Finnish and Swedish.
The companies operating with Me & MyCity Espoo are real businesses operating in the region.
Companies, organisations and partners involved in Me & MyCity Espoo:
City of Espoo
Metsämiesten säätiö/Suomen metsäsäätiö
The Ministry of Education and Culture
The City of Espoo's cross-sector programme Competitiveness, innovation and entrepreneurship has enabled the implementation of the Me & MyCity Espoo project.
Entrepreneurship better integrated into the national curriculum
The Me & MyCity initiative supports entrepreneurship education at schools. The versatility of the learning environment and working methods as well as interaction are important features at school, both now and in the future. Functionality, participation, knowledge building and experiential learning are also central. Entrepreneurship has a more prominent status in the new core curriculum for basic education. Children participate in the Me & MyCity activities that simulate real-life situations.
One of the objectives of the national curriculum is to teach children an entrepreneurial and proactive attitude and an understanding of entrepreneurship as an occupation. Skills for their working life and entrepreneurship will be included in the new curriculum, and entrepreneurship will be considered, among the younger school children in particular, to be an overall commercial mindset so that they learn to appreciate work as well as an entrepreneurial attitude, perseverance and industriousness in themselves and in others.
Images: Heidi-Hanna Karhu