Student involvement in strategic planning in rural Vestland

On the left: teacher Hilde Gjester Hoel, Odda Upper Secondary School
Young students: Hanna and Ylva
Below: Inge Håvard Aarskog, Head of economic development in Ullensvang Municipality

Good collaboration between our school and enterprises is important. Show us better which opportunities does Ullensvang give us?
We need to utilise all resources we have in Ullensvang for development and innovation.
-More variation in job offers, good work climate and gender equality.
-Ullensvang needs more local meeting places for all citizens in all ages, not only sport activities.
-We need something to come home to in the weekends and after finished higher education

These are just a few of the comments the students at Odda Upper Secondary School made during the 45 minutes digital meeting with their municipality this week. Teacher Hilde Gjester Hoel had prepared the students (aged 16-17) in her class, well in advance of the meeting. As part of their social science class, they had analysed the proposed strategic business plan of Ullensvang municipality.

The students showed that they are very much interested in the development of their rural home area. They want to make their rural community more attractive for inhabitants and attract new people to Ullensvang. The students have many concrete ideas and they liked to be invited to this dialogue meeting with their municipality. They touched on several topics, from good housing, leisure activities, public transport and safe roads to better language training for immigrants.
The young students also called for more collaboration among enterprises and for more innovation and new ideas, for example in the field of tourism. They want to put their municipality on the map by better promoting already existing festivals in Odda and Ullensvang. The students mentioned also some new concrete ideas, like “cycle for rent” and “building a cider-centre”.

Inge Aarskog, Head of Economic Development, was impressed after the meeting:
“They showed that they really care about the development of Ullensvang.”

Teacher Hilde is directly involved in YESpecialists project and said:
“It is very inspiring for the students to be actively involved in the development of the place where they grow up. Through this dialogue meeting with the Municipality they learned about strategic planning. We need to link entrepreneurial skills to all subjects in school, and we should preferably start already at kindergarten level.”

Next on the agenda is a meeting with the Head of Culture Else Marie Sandal, who was observer during this first dialogue meeting. She is looking forward to co-create the Culture plan together with the young students, not only listening to their good input but also challenging them: How do you see your role in this?

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