Creating Entrepreneurship in Schools

20 Jun

Entrepreneurship as a subject might teach you some practical things of life’ – so encouraged by my parents, I chose Entrepreneurship as one of my optional subjects in class XI.Recently, I attended a workshop in my school as a part of this course. It began with some exercises intended to train us to think analytically and critically. We were told about the various stages of setting up an enterprise. But the only way we would truly learn these lessons for life was by getting the experience ourselves. Yes, that was next. A business plan competition was held. The best business plans would go for national level competitions where they could even get seed capital. I came up with an idea for selling home-cooked food online to working professionals as per their choice. I worked hard on my idea, created a good business plan, a crisp elevator pitch and gave a presentation in front of the judges. I did not win because of the lack of a good financial plan. I was disappointed, but I knew I had learnt valuable lessons in entrepreneurship – the importance of financial planning, and of making the pitch look good.The process of learning entrepreneurship is analogous to that of a child learning to ride a bike. He learns by riding, by falling and picking himself back up. It can’t be taught through textbooks alone, for it is a process of experiential learning. But that does not mean it cannot be taught in school. Entrepreneurship can be taught by offering students entrepreneurial experiences while still at school at low risk scale. However, firstly, students need to be explained the key role of entrepreneurs in society today. This, I believe can be achieved through classroom learning and even textbooks for that matter. The Central Board of Secondary Education has taken a significant step in this regard by introducing the subject of entrepreneurship at the plus two level. Although it is mostly bookish learning as opposed to experiential learning, it does serve to make students acquainted with the basic concepts as well as convince them of the need and importance of entrepreneurship in today’s dynamic society.But this is not enough. Students, though aware of the process and benefits of entrepreneurship, may not have the drive, the skills, the capacities or the desire to create enterprises. So here comes the role of experiential learning. Some schools in California have taken such initiatives and are engaging students in entrepreneurial opportunities on a regular basis. In the Girls’ Middle School in San Jose, for instance, seventh-grade girls have the unique opportunity to create and run their own business. Working in small groups of four to five, students write business plans, request start-up capital from investors, receive funding for their companies, make product samples, manufacture inventory, and sell their products to real-world customers. The girls learn firsthand the importance of creativity, teamwork, communication, consensus-building, personal responsibility, and compromise, as they experience the joys and challenges of running their own businesses.Such initiatives need to be taken by all schools on a regular basis, as opposed to an occasional workshop. Schools can and should provide students the opportunities, the encouragement and the motivation to create intra-school enterprises – a new canteen, a student run locker service, a magazine, an e-learning centre… the list would indeed be endless when students sit down to come up with ideas, as all children have these capacities to innovate, to create something new.The world in our time – the world young people will go into – is never static; it is always being re-invented. And that is precisely what entrepreneurship is about. It is a means of re-inventing the world.Manan Hora is a twelfth grader studying at the RN Podar School in Mumbai. He hopes to gain admission to study economics/business with Computer Science at a top college in the U.S.

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