The need to inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship in their veins: The educators’ job

2014-11-14 08:45

Before I get to the nitty-gritty of this paper, I want to draw your attention to one of the aims of the South African school system as enshrined in the current curriculum, Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS): “The National Statement Grades R-12 serves the purpose of: facilitating the transition of learners from education institutions to the workplace; and providing employers with a sufficient profile of a learner’s competences” (Department of Basic Education, 2012: Section 1(1.3)b)). Just from the foregoing provisions, it is easy to tell that our school system is markets-driven, thus aims to serve the interests of the capitalists who are only interested in exploiting ‘poor learners’ by often labelling them ‘cheap labour’.  But what if we had the school system that understood that the entrepreneurial spirit among its learners would eradicate most of the existing socio-economic inequalities in South Africa?

Questions that I often ask myself and seldom get answers for are: why do we seek jobs to others, but not create our own? Why is South Africa still importing more than it exports goods? According to the Total Entrepreneurial Activity Index (TEA), which measures the entrepreneurial activity by assessing the number of active population, those between 25-64, who are entrepreneurs, South Africa in 2008 stood at 7, 8%, lower than India-Brazin (11,5%, Colombia (24,5%), Mexico (13,1%). In South Africa, acute discrepancies within demographic groups are evident, with Indians and Whites having the most entrepreneurs (1,6:1 and 1,7:1 respectively compared to the general population), while Blacks and Coloureds have fewer entrepreneurs (0,9:1 and 1,2:1 respectively compared to the general population. You do not have to be a Business Science major to understand the implication of these figures for the future of South Africa. If the DoE, through its policy texts and practices, still promotes the culture of job-seeking instead of job- creation, then I am afraid to prophesy that the current issues that we sometimes solely attribute to apartheid, such as poverty and sharp economic disequilibrium, especially among we blacks, will still be the topics that will prolong the conversations that the next generation will have over tea.

As the Accounting and Business Studies teacher I understand that it is my responsibility to inculcate this entrepreneurial spirit in our learners and in the subsequent sections I am going to illustrate how we can do it.

What always turned me off during my school days was to be taught lively subjects as those we had in commerce like we were in concentration camps— talk and chalk were our daily meals.  I believe the successful inculcation of the entrepreneurial spirit among our learners will happen if commerce teachers effectively applied subject theory into practice. Wouldn’t learning be interesting if all our commerce teachers based most of their summative and continuous assessments on real-life problems that would propel learners to identify pressing challenges in their society and apply their innovative entrepreneurial ideas to solve them?

The other pressing challenge that we have in South Africa right now is that of littering. This should be the window of opportunity that our commerce teachers should capitalise on. Teachers in this instance can ask leaners to collect all the recyclable materials and sell them to either the municipality or any recycling company. Money generated can be used as a capital for the next business that will be run by learners or be used to expand the existing business. To ensure effective learning happens, this whole process should be learner-centred, teacher only serving as mentor.

How many schools, especially in our townships, dedicate a day or two in their academic calendar to Market Days? This will be an opportunity for learners to display their creative products which, if they are serious about their stuff, can yield them great returns over time. The problem with some of our township schools is that we think what makes a good learner are good grades with no competence of applying their subject knowledge into workable real-life solutions. Through Market Days, learners will be able to nurture their persuasion, communication, and people’s skills. All these skills are essential in life.

The hope is all that I have mentioned in this article will contribute to the creation of sustainable learning environments in our schools. Other than these suggestions, there are numerous ways through which we can inculcate the culture of entrepreneurial innovation among our learners—we just need more creative and entrepreneurship-centred teachers.

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