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Young business owners want entrepreneurship taught in schools

Published:Friday | July 18, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter

THE YOUNG Entrepreneurs Association of Jamaica (YEA) is advocating for entrepreneurial studies to become a core part of the curriculum in schools.

Presenting an overview of its policy paper for the inclusion of entrepreneurship in schools at the association's quarterly forum on Tuesday, the group's top brass argued that the time has come for this area to become fully integrated in schools at all levels of the education system.

Andrae Blair, chair of the YEA's public policy and advocacy committee, said the inclusion of entrepreneurship in schools will go a far way in increasing the level of productivity and innovation in the country.

"The YEA is of the opinion that the most critical component in the development of Jamaica's entrepreneurial culture is to develop a citizenry which is innovative, well-educated and entrepreneurial," Blair said.

He said it is the YEA's view that, in order for Jamaica to solve many of its problems, more persons who are able to innovate and who are courageous enough to develop and launch their own ideas are needed.

Blair added that it is for this reason that the association is proposing that entrepreneurship becomes fully integrated in the syllabus from the primary level up to high schools and in vocational institutions.

tiered system

"We are proposing that a tiered system be used and that various combinations of administrative techniques be applied at the various levels. At the primary-school level, we are recommending that a cross-curricular approach be used," he said, explaining further that instead of creating an entirely new subject at this level, entrepreneurship be integrated into the other subjects.

In high schools, the group is advocating that the entrepreneurship becomes a core subject, much like mathematics and English, up to the grade-nine level. After this, students will have the opportunity to decide whether or not to continue with the subject to the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations level.

Blair said the Ministry of Education could use its curriculum development unit, along with extensive consultations, to develop the relevant syllabus.

This proposal coincides with the Caribbean Examinations Council's (CXC) decision to start offering entrepreneurship as part of its new generation of subjects at the advanced level, starting this September.

CXC has said that its new generation of subjects, which also include tourism, performing arts, physical education and sport, is all geared to offering students useful subjects that are relevant to their own experiences.

Education Minister Ronald Thwaites has welcomed the initiative from the group, noting that it is timely and of relevance to the Jamaican economy, as small businesses are what will take the economy out of the rut.

He said the ministry has taken the YEA proposals seriously and will be meeting with them shortly to see how best to proceed.

jermaine.francis@gleanerjm.com