Real world skills

“TEACHING kids business savvy goes beyond playing shop. Real job growth is essential for South Africa’s continued economic progress. One important enabler of job growth is the unleashing of entrepreneurial talent.”

So says Judy Wade of McKinsey South Africa, a global management consultancy organising an international competition for budding local entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship as a school subject explores small business management, as well as new thought processes and life skills. David Moshapalo, executive director of the Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services, said in an interview that “studies show that worldwide, 10% of people have some entrepreneurial flair, but in South Africa the figure is only 2%”. To unearth the missing 8% is the challenge of today’s teacher. But, how do you teach entrepreneurship?

Gordon Africa of the Institute of Development Services is adamant that the old-style “talk-and-chalk” method of teaching is not suited to entrepreneurship. He believes learners must learn by doing. Learners need to understand that an entrepreneur is someone who conceives, creates and takes the ultimate risk of a business venture.

Anne Kriel of Hilton College in KwaZulu-Natal, regarded as one of the pioneers of school entrepreneurship programmes, says: “There are many ways to teach entrepreneurship. But, there must be a philosophy, a vision of where you want to go with the programme.” She stresses the importance of teaching entrepreneurial thinking. Children need to think big, but start small. The teacher needs to give the programme direction by having a clear-cut idea of what students must learn.

Wanda Booysen, co-ordinator of the entrepreneurship programme at Wykeham Collegiate, sums up their aims as follows: “While our girls are taught about the skills involved running a small business, the underlying and overriding principles of our entrepreneurship programme continue to focus on developing self-worth, creative thinking and problem solving, independence and inter-dependence.” On the cultivation of self-worth of the individual, Kriel continues: “This includes encouragement to venture, to explore and to take risks—even to fail.”

Theresa van der Merwe, a school entrepreneurship consultant working with Technikon SA, says, “Any individual can be introduced to these new thought processes. The basis being that pupils are taught to believe in themselves, in their capability and potential to achieve, to do things differently, to develop a challenging spirit and to believe that constant renewal is the key to growth and survival in a competitive world!”

—The Teacher/Mail & Guardian, April 10, 2000.

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