Äänekosken lukio is the General Upper Secondary School of Äänekoski. We have about 30 mostly full-time teachers, along with other employees, and some 300 students, aged from 15 to 19. Our students have finished their obligatory nine-year basic education and represent about half of their age group, the other half doing vocational studies. We have plenty of experience in internationalization. Apart from small-scale exchanges, we have taken part in EU projects involving a variety of countries. Encouraged by past and current experiences we want to continue on the same path.
Äänekoski is the third-largest town in the province of Central Finland with about 19,200 people. Provided the location and the socio-economical profile of this industrial town, it is safe to say that some of our students would not travel abroad without projects of this kind. We decided to join this project because we find it meaningful and motivating. Addressing local, regional or global issues with people from different countries and through the method in question seems fruitful and inspiring.
The person with most responsibility of the project would be the coordinator of internationalization. Our long-standing coordinator will leave her post, but a new one will be chosen for the school year 2018–2019. The coordinator leads a team of 4–5 teachers, who serve as the coordinator's right hand, but the project will also involve other teachers, as well as the principal and the deputy principal. In case some of the key people are no longer available, their duties will be taken over by another teacher.
The challenge addressed in Finland would be reducing the use of plastic – a global challenge, but one that requires actions on different levels. This theme suits us very well because with the world's largest bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, bioeconomy is one of the focuses of our school and the whole town. The mill serves as a platform for new development projects involving lignin products, textile fibres and biocomposites. An environmental topic of this kind is very much in line with the values that, according to our national core curriculum for general upper secondary education, should permeate our teaching. These values include active citizenship, entrepreneurship and working life; well-being and security; sustainable way of life and global responsibility; as well as technology and society. Another pair of values is cultural knowledge and internationalization, which invites us to go beyond our national borders.
We believe that including one challenge that involves natural sciences can motivate different kinds of students to take part in the project. On the other hand, we acknowledge that the topic can be approached through many different school subjects. It would also be natural for us to model modern uses of ICT, involving both hardware and software. In our new school building, we have some of the latest technology, and we use different digital resources on a daily basis.