Policy Levers to change mindsets
“We need to embed entrepreneurship education in the DNA of every nation’s education provision.”
Jeremy Lefroy, Intl. Youth Job Creation Summit, September 2013
There are several policy levers governments can use to change mindsets. The first, obviously, is to recalibrate national education provision to embed entrepreneurship training at every level of a child’s school experience. Meanwhile, schools can form strong links with local businesses, inviting successful entrepreneurs into classrooms to share their experiences. Career guidance, project-based learning and encounters with the world of work should be part of every child’s experience growing up. And every child who shows a scintilla of interest in setting up a business should have access to ‘ideation’ sessions (brainstorming business ideas) leading to courses in how to write viable business plans. Changing youth mindsets also involves life skills – networking, resilience, persistence, considered risk taking. Though Policymakers can start the process, this should happen socially in jobs clubs and out-of-school events.
Recalibrate national education provision to include entrepreneurship:
Everyone considers basic skills such literacy, numeracy and critical thinking vital for every child. Entrepreneurship education is equally vital and can motivate pupils to learn these basic skills. You must be literate and numerate in order to write a business plan and prepare a budget, after all. With most primary schools in sub-Saharan Africa delivering low literacy rates among graduates (less than one in five in some schools), the challenge of motivating students to read and write can be helped by the incentive of using those skills to earn money. In West Africa, where many of the young rural women who arrived for Peace Child International’s (PCI) business plan creation training were uneducated, the temptation of a PCI loan to start or grow a business was enough to get many registered for remedial literacy and numeracy lessons provided by PCI’s Be the Change Academies.
Many primary school teachers find 5- and 6-year-olds have well-tuned entrepreneurial instincts. Project-based learning and entry-level ‘ideation’, along with simple exercises and games about sales and marketing, can sow the seeds of entrepreneurial talent. These seeds can then be nurtured throughout students’ school careers, climaxing in a fully researched, costed and viable business start-up plan completed before the student leaves school. The challenge of finding enough qualified teachers to teach this, and classes small enough to ensure effective learning can be mitigated by the widespread introduction of pyramid peer-teaching mechanisms.
Paying for it – some policy ideas:
The best initiatives in the world are of no use to LEDC governments unless ways can be found to fund them – adequately and sustainably. Foundation and donor initiatives last only as long as the grants that support them, and entrepreneurship education is a long-term provision, not a short-term project. We offer the following policy ideas:
- Retrain teachers in every school to deliver effective entrepreneurship teaching and career guidance as part of their teaching, and include both in national curricula.
- Use peer-to-peer entrepreneurship teaching models.
- Create a club of successful businesspeople, active and retired, to regularly volunteer in schools, teaching classes on how to be a successful entrepreneur.
- Adopt the Teach a Man to Fish (TAMTF) ‘Financially Sustainable School’ model to introduce experiential entrepreneurship teaching, devising a business plan that covers its costs (see more in next .
- Do all of the above under the PCI, Hand in Hand or Plan International model of extra-curricular Job Clubs or Youth Entrepreneurship training – open to all students and community members;