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#5 Reasons Why a School Should Encourage Entrepreneurship The skills essential to being an entrepreneur should be inculcated from a young age through schools and their curriculum

By Kunal Dalal

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It is said that a child's personality develops by the age of five. When you are young, your mind is more open to newer ideas; it is more creative and unconstrained by the limits of practicality and fear.

When you read stories of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell and Dhirubhai Ambani, you find one thing common — they are either college dropouts or simply high school graduates but they went on to become thought leaders, steering the companies that have actually changed our lives.

But, for each one that made it, there are thousands that did not, so maybe we need to change the way we approach entrepreneurship.

The skills essential to being an entrepreneur should be inculcated from a young age through schools and their curriculum and should not only remain a prerogative of college going students. As a school leader and an entrepreneur, I think that encouraging entrepreneurship from a young age is a step in the right direction.

Curriculum in progressive schools today concentrates not only on knowledge distribution, but on skill-building, on preparing learners to settle into an uncertain and constantly changing world. Entrepreneurial skill is one such skill that should be included in the school curriculum. A few of the other reasons why I believe entrepreneurship should be encouraged in schools:

1. An article in the Hindu Business Line states that India has the third highest publicly listed family businesses in the world. Other researches estimate that 90% of Indian businesses from small mom-and-pop stores to large conglomerates are family-owned.

The seed of a family business is sown by an entrepreneur, who wants to break away from convention, who sees an opportunity that no one else has seen and is carried forward through generations by successive family members with a similar entrepreneurial spirit. Most of our school going children are either born into such families or will go on to become entrepreneurs and thought leaders. There entrepreneurial skills become essential life skills for them.

2. The Oxford Dictionary defines entrepreneurship as — "The activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit."

While most people believe entrepreneurship is an innate skill, aspects of entrepreneurship can be learnt and the younger you start the process it becomes part of the child's thought process. Given the statistics, it is important that in a country like ours, we encourage and teach entrepreneurship from a young age to our children.

It is important to encourage them to think of a product and take them through simulated environment where they can actually make it and market it, it gives them a flavour of what entrepreneurship entails.

3. As an entrepreneur, one of the most important skills you need to have is ability to think positively and overcome problems without getting defeated by them. Schools should include problem-solving case studies, positive thinking and creative challenges so that children are able to think of their glass half-full.

4. Entrepreneurship has no age limit. Everyone believes that when you go to college, you can learn how to be an entrepreneur. But entrepreneurship has no age limit — you can become an entrepreneur and come up with an idea, solution or a product even while you are in school. Schools that encourage entrepreneurship are likely to create thought leaders whose creativity is limitless.

5. Children are naturally curious, encouraging them to ask questions, follow that curiosity and come up with solutions is important. When they decide to start their own venture or work with a firm, their curiosity and natural tendency to ask questions will often lead them to out of the box solutions.

6. It is important to encourage innovative thinking, in a world where routine work is soon going to be mechanised, people are going to make their mark if they are able to think creatively. Entrepreneurs often have the ability to look at the same thing, but think of it differently.

Encouraging entrepreneurship in schools does not mean that every child will become an entrepreneur. The essence is to inculcate values and skills that will help them no matter what they choose to become a sportsman, an artist, a professional, a business leader, a creator or an entrepreneur.

Kunal Dalal

Managing Director, JBCN International School

After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Kunal had many opportunities to work in the United States. However, he was passionate about education and giving children in India the opportunities to explore and develop thinking skills from a young age rather than the rote learning rigour that he went through in school.

Before co-founding JBCN Education, Kunal Dalal worked at Rabo and Yes Bank, both financial start ups, the experience at these institutions prepared him to handle the nuances of growing organisations and an understanding of finance that enabled him to lead the finance department at JBCN. His experience as a student of the IBDP programme enabled him to take a two pronged approach: as a student and as an educator. He believes that an international education is more than an affiliation to a board it is about broadening the children’s horizons and making them citizen’s of the world.


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