YA equips its students with tools for the future and the present
At the Vocational College of Ostrobothnia, YA for short, work for a sustainable future happens in the day-to-day in three dimensions: ecologically, socially, and economically. Through their everyday choices, YA teachers and other personnel convey sustainability principles to the students to take with them into their careers. This guidance will hopefully lead to a better tomorrow, but it also has a positive impact on the students right now:
“Many young people struggle with eco-anxiety. By sharing facts and a sustainable way of thinking, we give our students tools to tackle our planet’s problems. We show them that our own small acts influence the future and make a difference”, says Anne Levonen, Headmaster at YA.
While YA’s sustainability work continues all year round, the school has recently launched an annual Sustainability Day at its four campuses. On this day, discussions and activities around subjects such as energy production and consumption, circular economy, waste disposal, and recycling are on the agenda. During the Sustainability Day in 2022, students in Vaasa, for instance, climbed up on the school building to learn more about the roof-top solar park that produces electricity for the campus.
Economic sustainability often goes hand in hand with ecologic sustainability, and at YA, students learn to reflect on their use of materials, water, and energy in their respective fields.
“Many of our students will have financial responsibilities in the future, perhaps in their future organisations but certainly in their private finances. It is important to give them economic tools for this.”
Levonen sees that one of YA’s most important tasks is to give its students a firm understanding of social sustainability. By focusing on values such as social justice, equal treatment, and involvement, YA students are encouraged to actively participate in making the school and its processes better. This work often happens in student unions, but at YA, one’s voice can be heard also in smaller settings:
“This year, we have focused on setting up discussion groups, where students can discuss social topics that interest them, such as student wellbeing and equality. There, they can influence matters they feel are important, even without being part of the student’s union.”