It started in Kerry and now it’s a big hit in China

Marie Lynch and Vicky Landers of the Junior Entrepreneur Programme with Paul McCarthy at Xiamen International School

The Junior Entrepreneur Programme, which has helped more than 112,000 children to start classroom businesses since 2010, has made its first foray into China.

A new pilot programme was launched in the city of Xiamen in Fujian province earlier this year and the first 85 JEP entrepreneurs have created their businesses.

It started when Kerryman Paul McCarthy, a teacher at Xiamen International School, searched for an entrepreneurship and life skills development programme for his students.

He has been teaching in international schools in different cities in China since 2015 and he currently teaches Middle School, with pupils aged between 11 and 15, at Xiamen International School on the south east coast of China.

Paul had run the Junior Entrepreneur Programme at home in Kerry and felt something similar would be ideal for his class.

Maureen Cooper was a member of the class that completed JEP in Xiamen this year

“I was a primary principal in Lauragh, a small, rural two-teacher school, from 2011 to 2015 and took part in JEP before I moved to China. The children greatly enjoyed it and learned a huge amount,” he said.

“I felt that this type of programme, with a focus on collaboration and life skills, would fit very well with the ethos of Xiamen International School. A high percentage of parents are business people and I was confident they would appreciate the introduction of entrepreneurship skills at an early age,” he added.

Paul contacted the Junior Entrepreneur Programme office and he and his class were up and running. The pilot was a great success and culminated with one of Paul’s students, Chen Jia, winning the JEP Bright Spark Award for her idea, the PLA converter, which could convert used plastic into 3D printing material.

Paul is not the only Kerry native working at the school as Tom Cooper, from Ballymacelligott, was the Primary Years Programme Coordinator at Xiamen IB School this year and he was responsible for leading the implementation of the curriculum.

Tom Cooper, PYP coordinator at Xiamen International School, pictured with his wife Fang and children Maureen and Danny

Tom, his wife Fang, and their two children, Maureen and Danny, regularly visit Kerry and Maureen was a member of the class that completed JEP in Xiamen this year.

Another Irish staff member, James Gleeson from Midleton, Co Cork, the IT and

Communications Coordinator, has been based at XIS for five years and was heavily involved in the delivery of JEP.

Paul said there is a significant Irish community teaching in various institutions in China.

”The Irish education system holds up very well to international comparison. Irish teachers have an excellent reputation in China and around the world and are in high demand,” he said.

The Junior Entrepreneur Programme is a real-life, immersive entrepreneurship skills programme for fifth and sixth class primary schoolchildren and it nurtures confidence, resilience, creativity, problem- solving and teamwork and engages pupils of all abilities. It is offered free of charge to schools.

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