Entrepreneurship curriculum programme (ECP): Fostering entrepreneurial youth
UNIDO’s Entrepreneurship Curriculum Programme (ECP) is a cost-effective investment to develop entrepreneurial attitudes and awareness in secondary education, with a view to enabling youth to participate actively in the economic transformation of their communities and countries after they leave school. ECP started in 2002 in Uganda by assisting the Ministry of Education in introducing entrepreneurship learning in secondary schools. Subsequently, several other countries followed this example and continue, on their own, to offer entrepreneurial learning to their students. Currently, UNIDO is assisting Sao Tome and Principe in this endevour.
The ultimate goal of ECP is to foster a new generation of youth able to identify and exploit opportunities to create value—be it, economic, social or cultural— for their families and communities. This is achieved by using the education system. To foster entrepreneurial youth, schools need to focus on student-centered learning relevant to the outside world. ECP brings about this desired change through an action-oriented entrepreneurship curriculum where youth is encouraged to think and act entrepreneurially when in school. At this stage of development, young people are most open and receptive to new ideas and learning, relative to later stages of their life. Not only is this a prime time to nurture their creativity, entrepreneurial skills and mindsets, starting early also maximizes economic returns to themselves and their communities.
ECP primarily contributes to SDG 9 by fostering an entrepreneurial human force able to seek innovations and business opportunities for economic transformation and promotion of industrialization. It also contributes to SDG 4 by enhancing quality of entrepreneurial education and developing students’ soft skills for a productive work life, SDG 5 by adopting gender-responsive curricula and teaching strategies for engagement and learning by female students and SDG 8 by empowering youth to realise their capabilities and improve their opportunities for productive work.
By partnering with local educational institutions, ECP is tailored to meet the unique needs and developmental goals of a country, in both urban and rural areas. ECP comprises three distinct yet complementary phases, which may be either implemented together or pursued independently to respond to the particular challenges and requirements of each situation. In the curriculum development phase, a technical working group – consisting of curriculum development officers, school heads, teachers, inspectors, and teacher training institutes – is established to develop curricular material, including syllabi, manuals, assessment guidelines and impact monitoring tools. The private sector is consulted to ensure that the syllabus is demand-driven. This curriculum material is, then, validated and endorsed by national authorities. The pilot phase involves training teachers from pilot schools in entrepreneurial content and pedagogy, as well as assessing teaching practices and learning materials in pilot schools. During this process, schools are supported in their efforts to develop local collaborative initiatives by parents, local community members and the private sector. These initiatives are aimed at encouraging families and communities to overcome potentially negative societal perceptions of entrepreneurship, in particular for women and to foster linkages between schools and the local labour market. Entrepreneurship curriculum is monitored to assess changes in students’ entrepreneurial attitudes, knowledge of economic dynamics and ability to identify value-creating opportunities. Special attention is given to changing attitudes and behaviour in girls. The roll-out phase focuses on designing strategies and plans to scale up adoption of curricula by schools nationwide.
To date, several millions of secondary students in ECP-assisted countries have gone through entrepreneurship classes. Impact studies have shown that such experiential learning has increased youth’s sense of self-efficacy, perseverance and need for achievement as well as the awareness of saving to invest, willingness to deal with uncertain situations and acceptance of calculated risks. Moreover, students of entrepreneurship generally place emphasis on working on their own, in formal, rather than informal, businesses. When delivered effectively, entrepreneurship education seems to be a powerful tool to unlock the potential of girls in rural areas. A study in Mozambique revealed that the number of girls aiming at starting new ventures was some 30% more when teachers and principals actively fostered entrepreneurial attitudes. Studies also reveal that teachers learn to embrace new ways of teaching and value the knowledge and skills transfer by creating communities of shared practice.
Conducive educational policy frameworks are key to successful institutionalization of entrepreneurial learning in schools and encourage change in schools, teachers and inspectors. On the ground, schools’ pro-active engagement with the private sector and local communities is equally important to build students’ enterprising attitudes and entrepreneurial alertness. Moreover, for ECP graduates to realise the full benefits of the course, youth-oriented and business-conducive policies should be in place. ECP works to promote dialogue within and between educational and economic ministries and government agencies to ‘level the playing field’
Sustainability is ensured by working through national education systems. Once an entrepreneurship curriculum is developed and piloted in selected schools and classes (ECP), it can be rolled out to greater number of schools and achieve nationwide implementation. ECP builds stakeholder capacity, particularly that of technical working groups, to allow for future independent reform of the entrepreneurship curriculum. Experiences reveal the existence of a virtuous circle: teachers who see positive students’ reactions to entrepreneurial learning are more likely to continue applying and improving their new practices, bringing about even more student changes. For replicability, ECP’s three-phased methodology draws on hands-on experiences in introducing entrepreneurial curricula in secondary education, especially low-income countries. It has been, fully or partly, replicated and contextualized in some 11 countries.
Distance learning and radio programmes have been employed as short-term measures to enable students to continue learning. COVID-19 has highlighted the particularly challenging situations of students, schools and communities who have limited or no access to digital and technology resources. These challenges inform future interventions in blended learning and integration of technology into teaching, learning and assessment. A valuable opportunity also exists to promote current needs responsive curricula that promote circular economy and green entrepreneurship principles.
SDGS & Targets
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Deliverables & Timeline
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Afghanistan, Angola, Cabo Verde, Egypt, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Rwanda, Uganda