Countries Embrace, Legislate Entrepreneurism

While many are discussing, studying, analyzing and debating, others have put a stake in the ground and declared that teaching entrepreneurship as a viable career option, and the skills that go with it, is an economic imperative.

In a recent article, China Daily reports that the government of China has ordered Universities “to start teaching basic courses on entrepreneurship to undergraduates to encourage students to start businesses and become self-employed after graduation.” (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2012-08/28/content_15714073.htm). Similarly, the EU passed legislation years ago to ensure that entrepreneurship was being taught in schools – as young as primary schools. See: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sme/promoting-entrepreneurship/education-training-entrepreneurship/index_en.htm. Some specific examples include:

– In Bulgaria, the new Law on Pre-school and School Education, still under discussion in ministerial working groups, envisages entrepreneurship, creativity and developing a sense of initiative as one of the main goals of the educational system in Bulgaria. Entrepreneurship will be included as one of the subjects to be introduced. While the Ministry determines at national level the total number of hours for this area of the curriculum, schools are free to decide how to distribute these hours between a range of subjects.

– In Ireland, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has developed a short senior cycle course on enterprise. It has not yet been incorporated into the curriculum; its implementation is still under discussion between educational stakeholders.

– In Spain, the 2011 reform of the core curriculum for lower secondary education includes a new optional subject in the 4th year  Professional Guidance and Entrepreneurial Initiative. The reform will be implemented in 2012/13; nevertheless, the education authorities are free to implement it from 2011/12.

– In Cyprus, in the new curriculum for primary and secondary education to be implemented in school year 2011/12, emphasis is given to attributes, skills and working methods that enhance entrepreneurial behaviour as a cross-curricular objective.

– In Malta, a draft National Curriculum Framework (NCF) was launched in May 2011 as a consultation document. Education for entrepreneurship is proposed as a cross-curricular theme identified as essential for the education of all students and for achieving the aims of education. It is intended to strengthen the embedding of elements of entrepreneurial behaviour through the integration of entrepreneurship programmes, projects and activities in the established curriculum for schools both at primary and secondary level.

– In Poland, the ongoing curricular reform which will be completed in 2016 focuses on shaping attitudes and competences including entrepreneurship.

– In Sweden, entrepreneurship is part of the ISCED 3 school reform implemented in 2011, in the form of commentary material on how to look at entrepreneurship in the various programmes, and in the form of a forthcoming commentary material on the new subject of entrepreneurship, which will be published in 2012.

– In Iceland, national curriculum revisions were launched in 2011 and new subject curricula are expected in 2012. These revisions will include compulsory elements of creative activity for all subjects.

The question becomes: what are you (we) doing to encourage and nurture entrepreneurs? Where will my Country/State/Province/City be positioned economically 10 years from now when kids from around the world graduate having spent their academic careers being encouraged into, and learning skills supporting, entrepreneurism?

What is needed is more action, capacity and certainty around programs, policies and initiatives. Credit to initiatives and organizations that are working to make a change, including Start Up Canada, the Ontario Jobs and Prosperity Council and OCE’s Experiential Learning Program, though we need to move from talking and planning, or in OCE’s case – piloting – to action mode and long-term program commitment with respect to on-the-ground promotion of entrepreneurism and support for entrepreneurs. We are clearly losing out to other Countries in this area and the time for action and commitment is now.

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