Role of Educational Institutions in Inculcating Entrepreneurship Skills Amongst Children

Atul Temurnikar, Co-Founder & Executive Chairman, Global School Foundation&the non-profit Global Indian Foundation (GIF) Based out of Singapore, the 2002 founded Global School Foundation is an international network of schools, with 21campuses in seven countries.

Former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam once pointed out that nearly 650 million youth of India are India’s greatest asset, which no other democratic nation in the world possessed. Youth, he said, have fewer biases about society and hence, are easy to motivate.

“It is when children are in their teens that they decide whether they want to be a doctor, an engineer, a politician or an astronaut. That is the time they start having a dream, and that is the time you can work on them,” Dr Kalam had said during an interview with a reputed daily.

Dr. Kalam was spot-on in his observations. India’s youth are its strength in the global order of things, as well as its hope for future progress. As much as 65 percent of its population is aged between 25 to 35 years, many of them enthusiastic minds, whose enterprise and go-getter spirit is visible for all to see. Combine this with the statistics of our staggering economic growth figures, and we are sitting on a goldmine of possibilities and achievements. Already the International Monetary Fund is projecting the country’s Gross Domestic Product to grow at 7.4 percent in 2018 and 7.8 percent in 2019 - a figure which is even better than China’s expected growth of at 6.8 percent in the corresponding year.

With so many things working in India’s favour, it is worth pausing to consider why a country of 1.3 billion people is throwing up only handful entrepreneurs of international repute. Narayan Murthy, Asim Premji, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal are some of the names that have a presence on the global stage as self-made business-people with companies which are household names. However, there is no denying that there are many more in our country, who will show the same drive, and ultimately, the same results when given a chance.

And the first step to make this possible is to start molding our young ones at an early age to be thinkers and innovators. This can be done by imparting the right kind of education at school level to improve the learning outcomes relevant for the 21st century. But, the biggest
hurdle to this seems to be an inset of stagnancy in the schooling system from Kindergarten to Grade 12, which encourages rote learning and emphasizes on the results rather than the entire learning process. Students are not exposed to cutting edge technology, or new age teaching methodology, to help them develop as thinkers and innovators so they graduate with flying colours and excel in everything they do in future.

In a changing global landscape, where digital technology is the centerpiece of every economy, the focus now should be on entrepreneurship

Of course, this is not a one-size-fits all situation. There are some public and private schools which are modernizing at a rapid pace - imparting project-based learning methods within their campuses and encouraging digital learning and other innovative ways to maximize learning outcomes. But, there is a persistent lack of focus on what constitutes the best way to do so.

In a changing global landscape, where digital technology is the centerpiece of every economy, the focus now should be on entrepreneurship – which brings with it the ability to adapt, think out of the box and implement contemporary ideas to bring about a change in the old order to usher in the new.

This system is a norm in various Business-schools and higher educational institutes in India. Students of these schools are encouraged to ideate, innovate and express themselves freely, as well as trained to write and pitch business plans to investors in the market. The school environment provides students a chance to be confident and creative without thinking of possible failure. This kind of training, if given from an even earlier age, will definitely prove to be more beneficial to the students.

Educational institutes can do a lot to help students reach this stage of personal development by shaping their minds from early childhood. They can develop curriculums to provide guidance and develop entrepreneurial competencies through various methods of creative training and programs. For instance, the ‘Entrepreneurship Bootcamp’ at Global Indian International School - conducted in partnership with INSEAD and Ivy League business schools – are where students as young as 8th grade participate for such training.

They are given tactical guidance, team selection duties, taught basics in business modelling and methods to pitch ideas with confidence to real investors – thus displaying their skills of entrepreneurship and public speaking. This helps boost their knowledge and confidence at an early stage of development.

The positive outcomes of such initiatives by schools cannot be overstated. Encouraging students to come up with new ideas for a business not only motivates them academically but if done successfully these ideas can turn into setting up of multinational companies. The Modi government's 'Start up India' campaign also focuses on providing amenities to young entrepreneurs in order to encourage the young minds to create employment opportunities and go beyond the usual white collared jobs.

The market today is much more competitive than before, which means our children will have to show grit, intelligence and a strong entrepreneurial spirit to be successful. Instilling these values in children from an early age is essential, and schools should be dedicated to training the next generation of global thinkers and cultivate their spirit of innovation. Our future generations will only be richer with these knowledge-based teachings, and will be thankful for the opportunities they got, which they can pass on to the coming generations with pride.