Not every secondary school can proudly say it has accomplished so many international projects and started cooperation with so many schools from abroad as Gymnázium Teplice. Thanks to the interest and enthusiasm of its employees and students this school has been doing well at it for a long time. Already 13 years ago this school has joined the EEA and Norway Grants for the first time. The gymnasium contacted first secondary schools in Norway in 2006. The gymnasium had established cooperation with these schools and the first two-sided visits of teachers and students had been realized. And in 2007, cooperation with the Icelandic school Menntaskólinn í Kópavogi begun and both scholls still closely cooperate.
Within the EEA and Norway Grants the school has already implemented 3 projects (ESEI, TIME and POINTS) and 2 bilateral activities supported by the Fund for Bilateral Relations. Currently, two further projects under the current Programme “Education” have been approved.
The first project financed by the EEA and Norway Grants was the project ESEI - Education, Science and Environment Interactively. The aim of the project was to support the environmental education and the natural sciences by using modern didactic techniques. The project also created a set of interactive aids for students, which are still being used by students in the corridors of the grammar school. In the second period of the EEA and Norway 2009-2014, the school prepared two more projects: TIME - Technology in Modern Education and POinTS = Progressive Opportunities in Science and Technology. We asked about these two projects the Deputy Director, Ms Marcela Řeháková and the Project Manager, Ms Ilona Kuboňová.
What is the idea standing behind these two projects?
“We have established a strong and a high-quality cooperation with schools from Norway and Iceland, with which we have been working since 2007. Thanks to the EEA and Norway Grants, we have prepared one project with each of these schools. We wanted the students to benefit from the projects as much as possible, although they could not be directly involved in foreign trips due to the rules set. They were therefore actively involved in educational excursions within the project, as well as in webinars, which we tested in practice for the first time. During the lessons we contacted the classroom in Iceland or Norway and the students presented each other “online” interesting facts about the Czech Republic and vice versa. ”
Do you still use the outputs/results of both projects?
In both projects, teaching modules have been created in the science subjects, both in the class education and in optional subjects. The modules summarize working procedures and practical tasks for students within individual courses and are still being used by guarantors in the given subjects. The modules are also free to download for others on our website.
How do you assess bilateral cooperation with your partner organizations?
Having a partner is very important in projects. We are glad that we have been able to establish high-standard partnership cooperation so soon and that we are still continuing in it. The partners from Iceland even liked us so much that during their free time they organized a trip for their teachers and all of them came to visit the Czech Republic. In total there were 55 people and all of them had the opportunity to visit our grammar school. Our mutual cooperation will continue in other projects.
What kind of projects are you just preparing?
Currently we have 2 more projects approved and we are very happy that this time our students will be directly involved. In March 2020, a group of 13 children will travel to Iceland and 13 children to Norway, and in April a group of children from Iceland and a group of children from Norway will come to us. It will therefore be a tripartite meeting. The theme of the projects is ecology and active citizenship - sustainability and responsibility for their actions.
How is the interest of children and parents in the foreign trips?
Generally speaking, the student´s interest depends mainly on the destination. But it has not ever happened that the group was not completed. In countries like Norway and Iceland it is always a great deal of interest, so we will have to select from those who are interested. Similarly, parents are very happy if their children have the opportunity to participate in the international project and also to travel. Nowadays it belongs also to one of the selection criteria of parents when they choose the best school for their children.
How would you assess the EEA and Norway Grants when you compare it with other sources of funding?
We have considerable experience with ERASMUS Programme but, for example, when comparing administrative burdens, both programmes are at a similar level. We are glad that our comments to the previous period expressed within the evaluation as well as the ones stated within the Stakeholder Consultation were taken into account in the settings of the Education Programme supported within the new period of the EEA and Norway Grants.
The EEA and Norway Grants have given us the unique opportunity to establish an excellent cooperation with schools from Norway and Iceland, in which we are continuing and preparing together joint projects for the future.