TODAY -

Embedding 'Entrepreneurship=Success' Culture into School Education

Shanjoy Mairembam *

Embedding 'Entrepreneurship=Success' Culture into School Education



We seemed to come out more worried when we got out of schools and different from how we used to be when we got in. In schools, we seemed to have pick up lots of phobia and been hardcoded to do only few predefined tasks ahead in our lives. As a kid, we used to be carefree to try new things, naughty to explore ideas out of curiosity, and daring to go roads not yet taken. For humanity to progress, we do need balancing the attitude in our school education system between protectiveness for security in future and creativity for innovation.

The complete education system ought to be seen as a structure enabling multiple entry and exit doors. Reading about 'Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)' of UK and European Qualifications Framework (EQF) of European Union (EU) may throw some ideas about the need to have an education framework that maps various learning programs we've got (such as certificate, diploma, degree, etc) into a tiered-leveling structure specifying knowledge, skills and competence imparted in each level. Not all kids go to college after schools and thus, we can visualize 'passing out from school' as an exit door to the society (and from the education system). So, the schools ought to impart relevant skills and visions to the kids before they pass out of school to be able to fit and contribute into the society we live.

Entrepreneurship is not merely about a course to be studied but a philosophy that needs to be embedded into our mindsets in every field of activities or studies. There isn't a better place and time to embed entrepreneurship principles than inspiring to young minds during the school days through the school curriculum and extra-curriculum activities. Teenagers out of schools ought to feel empowered enough to explore the career each one desires with the underlying principle of 'Entrepreneurship = Success'. Interestingly, European Commission has been investing huge time and money (in millions of Euros) to its constituent EU countries since a decade on 'Enabling teachers as a critical success factor towards entrepreneurship education in schools' and 'Embedding entrepreneurship education at school in Europe through national strategies, curricula and learning outcomes'.

Latest news about inclusion of vocational courses at various schools in Manipur may seem like a welcoming thrust for socio-economic development in nearby towns/villages where the schools are located. Yet, it should not be implemented as dislocated add-on arrangement to the current educational system in place. Otherwise, strategy to implement vocational courses in schools may turn out to be a failed programme after investing huge funds in crores, time and efforts. No matter how useful the vocational courses may be, most parents will not wish their wards to study vocational courses as compared to general Science/Commerce/Arts courses in schools. We got to understand that every parents dream of their wards to be doctors, or, engineers, or, IAS officers in future; and the current implementation approach of vocational courses do not show the feasibility of vocational students to be groomed towards a long-term career than a low-level ad-hoc jobs after undertaking those vocational courses.

We need to review the current approach of school education system and come up with a combined framework that provides an appropriately balanced structure of (1) hands-on vocational skills learning, (2) embedded entrepreneurship principles, (3) instilled social responsibility ethics, and (4) imparted basics of knowledge for future. Manipur state can be the first state in India to come up with a standard education framework before other states in India (instead of just being followers always as in the past). It's time to let go of the old concept of school being just only 'a building with few teachers to teach local kids in pre-defined course books'.

Regarding course contents for primary school education, the basic set of courses may comprise of (1) Science & Technology, (2) Social Sciences, (3) Citizenship, (4) Languages, and (5) Physical Education. Teaching and learning methods in each course ought to have hands-on practical projects/workshops for applying theories into action both in individual as well as team modes. Inclusion of something like 'Citizenship' course subject (as in USA and EU countries) as part school education is very essential considering the diversity of India as a nation and Manipur's history within India. This 'citizenship' course subject may focus on building social responsibility concept on growing up kids and imparting 'common sense' input to students for social impact locally. Also, imparting computer/Technology related contents in each of the subjects within school education is necessary to avoid viewing computer skills learning as a stand-alone subject. Lastly, inclusion of more workshops and project works in individual or team as part of school course structure is essential to apply entrepreneurship skills in action.

Regarding course contents for secondary school education, the basic set of courses may still packaged as now (science, arts and commerce streams) and yet include the aspects of (1) Applied Innovation (as add-on workshop or project works of the learned concepts in both individual and team modes), (2) Next-Career Ready Knowledge (to support students in preparing for various entrance exams to professional studies after 12th standard), (3) Exit-to-Society Ready Skills (to include vocational skills which are still useful and relevant to serve jobs for industries within the scope of science, arts and commerce streams). Current school system tends to produce 'top scoring students' who lacks in professional personality attribute due to current school education system not focusing on soft-skills aspect too which is in fact found to be the most critical factor to instilling leadership and management quality in one's future professional career. Course delivery approaches ought to contain feasibility of students to speak/debate/exhibit their learning out of the teaching in classes in open forum or competitive event as applied innovation.

As just like the saying 'A happy family produces wonderful kids' means, we should consider welfare and working aspiration of school teachers on the similar priority level as the need for students to be taught the necessary knowledge and skills for their future. Schools (at primary and secondary levels) can be made to be more enjoyable places to interact for not only students and teachers but also among local communities around the schools. Vocational courses aligned to already delivering school curriculum may be imparted out of schools by school teachers as certificate courses (on free mode or pay-as-you-learn mode) for public in the local community either as short-term course or annual course. School teachers may be also encouraged to apply bids for funding from state govt to undertake extra-curricular projects in the local community which may complement the learning and teaching of the respective school courses; such as supporting disable students to learn, guiding teenagers outside schools to apply school learning into social activities, etc. Thus, a career in school education for school teachers may be transformed into an exciting career option and local schools can also become self-sustaining institutions by generating revenues through delivering locally appropriate vocational courses for a fee to public.

To instill 'Entrepreneurship' passion into young minds, we first need to create a thriving entrepreneurship culture in the schools. Right from providing motivated teaching staffs (with clear and exciting career in school education) to creating course-contents package (for kids entering schools to exit as empowered teenagers ready to face whatever comes in future instead of phobic youth towards the complex world out there in future), we have to review the current school education system in a more holistic and transparent approach of 'Cause-Impact' analysis. Since education is to empower our younger generation to lead humanity towards a better world, we have to teach our kids that 'Entrepreneurship equals Success'.


* Shanjoy Mairembam wrote this article for People's Chronicle - English Daily at Imphal and also submitted to e-pao.net
Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in 'conceptualization of ideas into business case', and offers role of a 'Business Doctor' to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur. For further info, visit www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com
This article was posted on October 29, 2012.



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