#Education #Youth #YouthUpliftment #Entrepreneurship #BusinessEducation #SouthAfrica
“South Africa’s crippling unemployment rate along with its poor standards of education are a toxic mix that continues to upend society in deeply negative ways. But one solution to these problems could be to engender a more entrepreneurial way of thinking in South Africa’s education system, specifically by including small business studies as part of the curriculum, either as a subject on its own or as part of an existing subject like technology. Here is an article that outlines these thoughts. – Gareth van Zyl” [Gaotlhobogwe: 2018]
Mr Gaotlhobowe’s article is a must read for those who wish to empower our youth. I can see how his suggestion of including entrepreneurship into an already existing subject can work wonders. It would be absolutely brilliant if our children can leave school, armed with the necessary skills to start their own business.
Over the past few years I’ve seen ways in which Business Studies, for instance, for grade 10-12’s have been encouraging learner’s to research means of earning an income by using their God given talents. My son, for instance, is extremely gifted with anything that is remotely mechanical. Give him an old car engine to overhaul, and he’ll get it done in a week. I helped him complete an assignment in grade 10 where he had to draw up a business plan of his own. While he may never become a medical doctor, this particular assignment gave him the opportunity to ‘design’ his own business in, as he calls it, ‘hotrod creation’. With the help of his study guide, some research and loads of imagination, he managed to write up a doable business plan, include outlays for his workshop and even consider future expansion into training facilities. It showed him that he is allowed to dream big and the subject matter gave him the necessary knowledge to actually make it happen.
Some ‘born’ entrepreneurs may instinctively have the knack to identify an opportunity in the marketplace and have the natural ability to start a business and make it work. Most young people, however, lack the skill and/or the gumption.
Working in the townships have opened my eyes to the reality AND the value of entrepreneurship. But it also highlighted the lack of knowledge and skill, which are essential to keep a business going. When you take a drive down Zoutpan Road in Soshanguve, for instance, you will see many informal shops, or ‘roadside stands’ where goods are sold. Eggs, live chickens, goats, vegetables and even crafts are sold. Some of the business people behind these little pop-up shops, if one can call it that, are not properly trained, which means that they often do not last. This is extremely sad, as the shop owners literally live off the daily sales they make. The products and livestock sold are, more often than not, their own, so when a harsh winter rolls around, diminishing livestock numbers and produce from their gardens or when it is stolen, they are stuck.
If those same shop owners had proper training and knew to start out with a proper business plan AND how to prepare for possible pitfalls, the outcome would be different. Now their failure only results in desperation, fear and hopelessness, because success has become an illusion. They are right back where they started, back in poverty, back to scrounging for food and begging at the street corner. There is no moving forward at all.
Gaotlhobogwe reports that South Africa’s youth unemployment rate stands at about 55%. This is very troubling indeed. It seems that even those who graduate from tertiary institutions struggle to find work. The downside of this is not only the fact of unemployment, it is also the fact that these youth’s will be tempted to seek an income from another, perhaps illegal, source, which would also explain the crime rate in this country.
We make the mistake of thinking that people turn to crime because they are evil. I would dare to say that many turn to a life of crime, because they have no choice. They have to make a living, put food on the table, pay bills and if criminal activity helps them do that, they will get involved with no regard of the consequences. Of course crime remains unacceptable, but perhaps we need to start treating the root of the problem, instead of finding ways to alleviate the symptoms.
Nelson Mandela said that education is the most important thing, it is ‘the engine of development’. This is not just a quote, this is a fact. You will not want your child to enter the world unprepared for life. You help to teach him survival skills. Basic things like good manners, moral values, perhaps you even start to teach your child to read and write at an early age. Both parents and teachers have a responsibility here. You are the vessels that have to share your knowledge and experience with the youngsters. You must understand that, when you send them into the world, they have to be prepared for anything. And that includes the prospect of dealing with unemployment. But you have a greater responsibility, you need to teach the child that unemployment is NOT the end for them.
Teaching entrepreneurship from a young age will hone a skill that will be able to help a child become fearless. He will really feel able to become anything he wishes, he will feel ready to change the world. Even if he goes to university and, as it turns out, doesn’t get a job, he will remain hopeful and reach back to those skills taught while still in school. He will know how to take care of himself in an honest way and that hard work and perseverance will pay off. The child will understand that, yes, I can actually bake cakes for a living. People will order it if I advertise, create an online profile, etc. They will have the answer and NOT be afraid to use their own common sense. There is truth in the saying: “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. Why? Because you can make a living, however mediocre, by selling lemonade!!!
Like Gaotlhobogwe’s article suggests, perhaps we should consider adding a set of entrepreneurial skills to the curriculum. Combine it with a subject like ‘Technology’ or even ‘Life Sciences’, and make it compulsory from Grades 1 to 12 and not wait until a child reaches grade 10, when he has the choice of continuing with Business Studies.
In the end youths with entrepreneurial savvy will become productive citizens, contributing to society and ensuring economic growth in the country. They will NOT end up in jail, costing other, also unemployed, citizens money they don’t have.
Remember, if it is in your power to change something for the greater good, it is also your responsibility to make sure that change actually takes place.
Do read Michael Gaotlhobogwe’s post for a more detailed view on this subject. Click here.
GAOTLHOBOGWE, Michael. 2018. Entrepeneurship: Why it must be included in South Africa’s education curriculum. www.biznews.com – Short link: bit.ly/2Ia9J1W
Equal Education – bit.ly/2D6rxYa [Nelson Mandela Quote]
Arkansas Money and Politics – bit.ly/2FnMhg5 [Header: Entrepreneur image]