EDITORIAL - The case for entrepreneurship education
From all indications, Jamaica will miss the Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education by the target date of 2015, but it has been presented with an opportunity to do something really innovative for its future adults by the Young Entrepreneurs' Association of Jamaica.
The group, which wears the rather catchy acronym YEA, is suggesting that serious consideration be given by the education ministry to integrate entrepreneurship education into schools - at the primary, high and vocational levels.
The idea is included in YEA's policy paper which was presented at a recent forum by Andrae Blair, chairman of the association's Public Policy and Advocacy Committee. Blair suggests that such a move would help to increase productivity and innovation in our country.
This call, which is essentially seeking to find new ways of engaging children in the learning process and preparing them for the working world, comes even as the Caribbean Examinations Council has indicated that it will add entrepreneurship among its new generation of subjects to be offered at the CAPE level this September.
As it stands, Jamaica faces a huge deficit in productivity. If by teaching young people how to launch and run a business they can become more responsible and enterprising adults, the Jamaican workforce stands to benefit in this era of global competitiveness. Entrepreneurship education incorporates such important components as critical thinking, accountability, risk-taking, and marshalling resources.
TARGETING FUTURE LEADERS
Mr Blair anticipates that teaching of this subject will help to produce a citizenry that is innovative, well educated and entrepreneurial. Indeed, providing relevant education for the nation's future leaders is one of the most important jobs that schools have today.
For those who think that the primary level is too early for such studies to begin, don't forget that children are making decisions at ages such as 10, 11 and 12 that could determine whether they remain mired in poverty or march towards prosperity.
Too many of the country's youth are missing out on education and will rue that fact when they come to realise that they are unable to access jobs, cannot advance economically, and are limited in participating in their communities' development. By then, it is often too late to change the trajectory of their lives.
With fewer jobs on offer, the reality is that a whole generation of Jamaicans can now be seen peddling wares on the streets. No doubt many of these itinerant vendors harbour the entrepreneurial dream but lack the education in financial concepts and skills that are necessary to succeed in business. Entrepreneurial education encompasses several academic disciplines and is an important tool in accomplishing that goal. So, it is critical that the requisite skills are combined with the entrepreneurial mindset.
We live in an age of innovation, and scores of young people have used the Internet to their advantage, establishing e-businesses and the like. Many of them benefited from entrepreneurship education.
According to press reports, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites thinks the proposal has merit and will meet with the group for further dialogue. We urge the minister to move forward with this important initiative towards a future where entrepreneurial education is a formal part of the Jamaican school curriculum.
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