How Entrepreneurial Learning Curriculum Is Essential To Prepare Students Better for The Future
With aspirations to become a USD 5 trillion economy and participate in global wealth creation, today, India is undergoing drastic social, informational, and technological changes. These changes are transforming the nature, reach, speed, and loci of human influence. In addition to this, changing dynamics in global markets are resulting in changes in the ‘future of jobs’ and ‘jobs of future’ for the potential workforce stepping out of educational institutions. While the central and the state governments have taken various initiatives to bridge the ‘skill gap’, India is still facing the daunting challenge of unemployment among the youth. One of the major reasons cited for the same is harbouring a ‘job-centric mindset’ in their most formative years of school education.
India’s current widespread school education system has a network of 1.5 million schools covering 280 million children across the breadth of the country. The current school education system is predominantly (a) knowledge base, (b) book & examination centric, (c) thrives on rote learning, and (d) develops marks/grade orientation. Therefore, it is not adequate to prepare children to manage the uncertainties and changes of the future.
The market estimates indicate the requirement for 12 million new jobs every year. While on one hand, there is an increase in the workforce seeking employment and many are moving out of the agricultural sector, the employment opportunities arising in the manufacturing & services sector are not growing as rapidly. The shortfall will be a cumulative 50 million jobs by 2030. To bridge this gap, the Indian school education system needs an urgent focus on nurturing a ‘job creator’ mindset instead of ‘job seekers. It is, therefore, imperative to set a foundation to fuel an India-wide entrepreneurial mindset among school children to seize opportunities arising out of India’s economic growth and help them build their ventures, and create economic value for themselves & the society.
By the time, the students of the current generation become participants in the mainstream economy, India would have already started transitioning from USD 5 trillion to USD 10 trillion. This would further amplify the challenges, besides just being ready for the ‘jobs of the future. This further emphasizes the fact that children need to be nurtured with a mindset to manage uncertainties of the future and build their own careers amidst a fast-changing world around them.
So how do we prepare our students for the future? The answer lies in nurturing an ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ among students through a systematic entrepreneurship learning curriculum. Entrepreneurship learning is far more encompassing than business studies. It is the ability to steer one’s career as one’s own enterprise. Systematically enforcing a structured entrepreneurship learning curriculum across the education system requires developing a syllabus with cutting-edge learning content, building DIY interventions, building the capacity of educators, developing, monitoring & evaluating learning through scientific tools, & detailed assessment guidelines.
Here’s how a systematically enforced entrepreneurship learning curriculum helps students prepare for the future:
Nurtures the uniqueness of each child: Nurturing the unique talents, skills, & abilities in each child, can help children discover their strengths & passions. It also empowers them to carve a niche in their careers. A structured entrepreneurship learning program, when deployed in a fun, engaging & experiential manner, helps child discover their inherent talents, skills, & abilities while they enjoy building innovative ideas and converting them into reality. It allows students to build essential skills for the future while they continue to preserve their childhood in a creative process.
Transforms The Mindset Of Students: Entrepreneurship learning makes students realize the importance of dreaming big, setting larger goals for their life, and, effectively, putting in place a plan of action to achieve these goals. Students start thinking like an entrepreneur by setting goals for their future, organising resources to achieve them & managing challenges on their path. It prepares them to face an uncertain future confidently.
Builds 21st-Century Life Skills: Most of the life skills published by the Organization of Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) as ‘Skills of 2030’, resonate with an entrepreneurial mindset; such as problem-solving, decision making, critical thinking, dealing with ambiguity, managing failures, resource management, creative thinking, collaborative skills, leadership, risk-taking, & opportunity evaluation. Students who undergo entrepreneurship learning have better retention of these skills & can apply these skills in every walk of life in their future as they have acquired these skills through 'active' or 'hands-on' learning.
Fosters Innovation & Problem-Solving: Entrepreneurship learning builds empathy among students. It equips them to use empathy to identify the problems that affect their surroundings & people and to build innovative solutions to solve them. Entrepreneurship encourages students to be imaginative, creative, independent & confident. Students learn to manage resources effectively, communicate, collaborate, express ideas, learn from their own mistakes & to manage their failures in the future.
Helps Create Value For Self & Others: Students who undergo entrepreneurship learning are better prepared to explore opportunities arising around them in the future. They can use innovative means to solve real-life problems while exploring careers in the area of their passion. They develop the ability to not just create a meaningful livelihood for themselves but also create value for those around them.
Mindset Of Lifetime Learning: The objective of entrepreneurship learning is to break the stereotype of classroom learning. Activities like building venture ideas, product development simulations, pitching ideas, etc. offer a hands-on learning opportunity to students that gives them exposure to the real world. It makes students feel ‘empowered’ & fosters an attitude to keep learning through every experience. This attitude of ‘lifetime learning’ prepares students to be resilient toward an ever-changing & dynamic future.
In the last decade, integrating entrepreneurship education in the Indian schooling system has been a mainstream discussion for policymakers. The New Education Policy (NEP) articulates the need for learning life skills & entrepreneurship in schools to bridge the skill gap in our nation. The central education ministry has been encouraging boards to bring alignment in policy-level initiatives & various state governments are taking initiatives to foster entrepreneurship in state board schools.
Despite the ambitious re-imagination of India's education system by the NEP, substantial execution challenges have slowed down the momentum of a systematic enforcement of entrepreneurship learning curriculum at a grass-root level. Some derailment can be attributed to challenges posed by the pandemic over the last two & a half years, most of the challenges are systemic. As we step into the post-pandemic world, we find ourselves rethinking our education system & its relevance. This is the time to take drastic measures & expedite systematic enforcement of the entrepreneurship learning curriculum to prepare our students for the future.
(Writer is a Founder and CEO of ENpower)