State governments over the country have taken affirmative action in the inclusion of entrepreneurial mindset building programmes in their school curricula.
Whom do we think of when we think about entrepreneurs? Perhaps the picture that comes into mind universally is of smart, English-speaking, suit-clad youngsters in tall steel-and-glass buildings, pitching their innovative ideas to investors. But who’s to say that a small-town farmer utilising a more efficient way of farming or implementing a new technology for irrigating his fields is not an entrepreneur? At the end of the day, an entrepreneur is one who solves problems, isn’t it?
Often, we’re caught in appearances more than the core of the title. Entrepreneurship has been likened to “business”, which, to some extent, is true. But the essence of entrepreneurship lies in recognizing problems, both general and highly specific, and utilizing resources and knowledge to find a solution for it.
Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum (EMC) is an innovative way to introduce young, impressionable minds to entrepreneurship. Rather than presenting ‘Entrepreneur’ as a job title, EMC aims to impart ‘entrepreneurial mindsets’ as a way of life. Critical thinking, problem analysis, effective communication, and creative problem solving are some of the basic tenets on which stands the foundation of EMC. With the changing workplace dynamic owing to Industrial Revolution 4.0, skills that were seen as ‘soft’ yesterday, are seen as essential for employability in today’s day and age. Studies indicate that the demand and acceptance for cognitive and emotional skills will rise significantly in the coming decade. EMC aims to develop an objective, risk-taking, and critical thinking temperament in students to prepare them for the future.
According to a landscape study undertaken by Anshika Kushwaha, there is a need to innovate and develop more soft skills. Yesterday’s soft skills are now the hard skills of the future, allowing for the youth to be better prepared for the uncertain future of being a working professional. The country has seen a steep increase to 15 million freelancers as of 2020, marking a 46% increase from quarter 1 to quarter 2. Educational systems in India are not delivering the 21st century skills needed to navigate the challenges of the current job market. Some of the key skills that are very relevant to India’s evolving job market are creative thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, information literacy, media literacy, technology literacy, flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity and social skills.
The need for EMC in Indian educational institutions has not been direr. By fundamentally wiring the minds of future workforce entrants, EMC aims to resolve a persistent issue that the Indian economy has been plagued with for long. Joblessness and unemployment, both distinct issues in their own rights, have dominated policy discourse since the beginning of the past decade. The recent pandemic has also contributed indelibly to this crisis by further marginalizing a large proportion of the Indian labour force from formal work. As mentioned above, the requirements for a formal sector job have shifted manifold, and EMC, with its focus on critical thinking, teamwork and creativity, equips the student of today to manoeuvre the competitive, creative workspace of tomorrow. Leaving aside employability, EMC engenders and fosters an interest in problem solving with the application of innovative ideas and has the potential to cultivate a crop of future job-givers.
However, given the myriad upsides of introducing such a curriculum within educational institutions of the country, we see that interest has been positive, but lukewarm. State governments over the country have taken affirmative action in the inclusion of entrepreneurial mindset building programmes in their school curricula.
An example of this is the Delhi government, which has made EMC the focal point around which it is building the new school curriculum. Headed by Education Minister, and Deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia, the AAP government has started an initiative called the ‘Business Blasters’, where students from 11th and 12th grade are giving seed funding of 2,000 to support their entrepreneurial ideas. The Delhi government has sanctioned Rs. 60 crore as seed funding for the development of over 51,000 business ideas.
Udhyam Learning Foundation’s ‘Shiksha program’ has formed the fulcrum for the Delhi government’s EMC initiative in the classroom. EMC has been a staple in Delhi state government schools since 2019 and adopts a healthy mix of theoretical knowledge and its practical application for gaining experience in real-world scenarios.
It has also been adopted widely across several states like Maharashtra and is said to benefit 7.5 lakh students in total. Similarly, the Andhra Pradesh government is delivering EMC through its teachers in all 13 districts of the state. Aflatoun has also joined the efforts by providing financial literary to Andhra Pradesh schools.
Apart from state interventions, local, as well as international, stakeholders have also emerged as trailblazers in infusing EMC into the educational system. YuWaah, the Indian arm of Generation Unlimited, in its quest to enable the nation’s youth by connecting them to aspirational socio-economic opportunities, and engaging them as active changemakers has launched YWNXT which is a way to deliver life skills to students at home.
Despite these achievements, EMC remains to be adopted on a larger scale. Except for Delhi, other states have a pilot programme on EMC, namely Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, Kerala, Nagaland, Uttarakhand, Haryana, and Odisha. However, the issue of proper training and guidance for teaching personnel remains since it directly affects the way in which the curriculum is imparted. It has been observed that the perception of EMC still remains as that of an extracurricular activity, since many teachers believe that takes away time for ‘regular studies.’ This prevents stakeholders in bringing EMC to the fore and seeing it as complementary to normalized academics. EMC is yet to achieve a national understanding, and more standardization to allow for better implementation in the fabrics of the academic world.
Source: Business World