Entrepreneurship education is very important today not only because it promises long-term socio-economic benefits but also because young people benefit from entrepreneurial learning regardless of whether they are to set up companies or social enterprises. Through entrepreneurship they develop knowledge and basic skills, but also the required business mentality that helps them to turn their ideas into practice. It provides students with the tools they need to analyze and solve problems, to become familiar with uncertainty and risk taking, identify and create opportunities, make decisions, be able to communicate clearly and effectively and be able to innovate.
At the same time, however, entrepreneurship education as a child of the capitalist system focuses unilaterally on the pursuit of profit as the ultimate measure of the success of an entrepreneur and a business, ignoring the changes and the current needs of the modern world reality.
The results of this one-dimensional approach are more than visible today as for the sake of profit we witness social inequalities widening, the gap between rich and poor rising, the earth’s natural resources depleting, forests declining and climate change already showing its teeth.
- Is it time to reshape the content of entrepreneurship education?
We are seeing a significant shift in the world today and new forms of action are emerging alongside traditional entrepreneurship, such as social and green entrepreneurship.
Social entrepreneurship emerges from the need to provide answers to the social problems of today’s world and to introduce the concept of sustainability and social justice alongside economic growth. Green entrepreneurship, which is essentially a form of social entrepreneurship, aims to develop business ideas that address specific environmental problems and needs that are at the same time economically viable.
Social entrepreneurship is a necessity of our time that must be incorporated into school curricula for entrepreneurship, but in order to do so, a set of challenges that accompany this endeavor must be addressed.
Firstly, the skills and expertise in social entrepreneurship lie with those who are setting up and running social enterprises and these people are not part of the educational system. Social entrepreneurs can undoubtedly provide considerable value and inspiration as role models but not all of them can or have the time or interest to teach. So, social entrepreneurs could substantially influence the quality of social entrepreneurship education by actively engaging in the design of educational curricula and in the design and delivery of professional training for educators.
Teachers on the other hand are more or less a group of people who are not characterised by a passion for entrepreneurship otherwise they wouldn’t be in the classroom. Often, talking about entrepreneurship in a school setting and focusing on economic value, profit and creation of companies can trigger resistance among teachers as it is connected with commercialism and consumerism, notions that oppose the traditional values of education. Social entrepreneurship as directed towards the concept of doing good to the society and the environment is more appealing in that sense so teachers can be more easily persuaded to be engaged. Investment is also needed in social entrepreneurship experience and development for teachers as part of teacher training programmes as well as to create opportunities for collaboration between them and social entrepreneurs.
Although there are similarities among educational systems globally, there are also differences and particularities influenced by the local context. So, a single model of social entrepreneurship education could not be implemented universally as every program should adapt to the local situation. Therefore social entrepreneurship education should align with national educational policies that should leave room to each school for flexible adaptations to the local conditions.
Another challenge is the risk of social entrepreneurship becoming just another subject within the curriculum, a danger that could undermine the potential and the essence of the concept. If social entrepreneurship is to create an impact for children and teachers as well, it should be based on a hands-on approach with authentic and real opportunities to experience the process of solving problems and creating value for others through creativity and collaboration. This could be more effective if social entrepreneurship was embedded into the life of the school as a cross-curriculum subject.
Overcoming the challenges towards effective social entrepreneurship education integration to the school system is yet another big challenge, yet a necessary one. Social entrepreneurship education is vital not only for creating new value in the education process, but also because our world today more than ever before needs people who will have the skills, the persistence and the creativity to develop innovative solutions to social and environmental problems.
Educator / Pool of Experts Out of the Box International