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How Delhi’s School Curriculum Is Encouraging India’s Young Entrepreneurs

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Entrepreneurship is seeing a rise in the country. The Covid-19 pandemic has seen many people turn to start their businesses. To this end, to build an entrepreneurial mindset, the Delhi Government had already introduced a curriculum in school to encourage young entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial mind.

There is no doubt that the last year and a half has been difficult for students of all ages across the country. The novel coronavirus pandemic has had many adverse impacts on learning outcomes; an entire generation of students is now left behind. As a result, it has become more important than ever to strengthen our education system and provide our children with a solid, sustainable foundation for their future.

While India has made great strides in improving the quality of education in schools and colleges, one deep-rooted issue it has not been able to tackle successfully—unemployment.

college students
Why not encourage students to use their talent to build something of their own? (Representational image)

Even before the pandemic, there was rampant joblessness across the country; now, it has crossed insurmountable levels. The latest data with the Centre for Monitoring India Economy shows that India’s unemployment rate is at a high of 8.32%. A more alarming fact is that the unemployment rate in the national capital is higher than the country average itself, at 11.6%.

And this trend is unlikely to reverse soon. According to the Asia-Pacific Human Development Report (2016) by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), people in India will face difficulties finding jobs over the next 35 years.

This is distressing news for such a young country of over 350 million youth aged 10-24 years. It is now clear that the only way to safeguard their future is to generate employment.

But instead of forcing our bright and capable youth into taking up jobs that do not make use of their skills, why not encourage them to use their talent to build something of their own? Instead of churning out more job-seekers into the economy, why not introduce more job-givers?

This is the principle on which the Aam Aadmi Party government, led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, introduced the Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum (EMC) for students of classes 9 to 12 in 2019.

Developing An Entrepreneurial Mindset

One may think there are already measures in place to inculcate entrepreneurial skills and technical know-how in our children.

This is true—the National Education Policy, 2020, is the greatest evidence of this fact. It contains several provisions which not just encourage but mandate the inclusion of “specific sets of skills and values across domains will be identified for integration and incorporation at each stage of learning, from pre-school to higher education”.

It asserts that the National Council of Educational Research and Training will identify these valuable skills and include them in the National Curriculum Framework.

Moreover, for advanced training at the state level, several states even have skill universities in place—Delhi inaugurated its new institution in July this year. So there does not seem to be a need for a separate curriculum to promote entrepreneurship.

Here is where we must understand that “Entrepreneurship Mindset” is different from “Entrepreneurship Skills”. While the latter equips you with some tools to build a successful career, they are of little use if you do not have the right mindset to apply them.

For example, while Harvard can teach Mark Zuckerberg how to build a website, only his own creativity can give birth to Facebook. The likes of Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Ritesh Agarwal are not just born out of good talent but also with the right attitude.

school students in classroom
We need to inculcate an entrepreneurial mindset in our students. (Representational image)

This is why the EMC emphasises teaching students how to develop the right mindset for their entrepreneurship journey. It does not matter which sector they choose to enter, as long as they do it with the right attitude and frame of mind, to achieve desired outcomes. It almost pushes them to dream big and go for it.

For this, the EMC identifies a set of fundamental abilities that students must develop—critical thinking, communication, collaboration and teamwork, decision making, driving and adapting to change, ideation, integrity and ethical behaviour, problem-solving and reflection and analysis.

Along with these technical abilities, we also want our students to have key qualities that will not just help them become good entrepreneurs, but also well-rounded people. These qualities are creativity, curiosity, empathy, joyfulness, fear management, mindfulness, observation, self-awareness, and self-confidence.

How Do We Inculcate These Skills In Young Entrepreneurs?

To help children develop the right entrepreneurship mindset, the EMC follows a three-pronged pedagogical approach of learning via experience, inspiration and reflection.

Experiential learning allows students to understand different concepts through activities rather than theories, both inside and outside the classroom. This also encourages them to ask the right questions and explore the different options available to them. They are also given a chance to interact with real-life entrepreneurs and be inspired by their successes and failures.


Finally, the students must, in different ways, reflect on what they have learned from these endeavours and learn from each other’s takeaways to deepen their understanding. This approach is universal, not just in its construction but also in its execution. Every single prong is necessary to build the proper foundation for leadership.

EMCs pedagogy is woven into six components. Inside the classroom, the focus is on engaging students mentally through mindfulness exercises to recentre their minds, theme-based activities and stories to simplify the concepts, interactive games and competitions to encourage collective learning and entrepreneur interactions to inspire them to dream big.

The EMC takes a more practical approach on the field—students must interview entrepreneurs and professionals and get a sense of how the real world works. But their biggest test is coming up with a special entrepreneurial project of their own, using seed money and putting to practice everything they learn through the other units.

This component is based on initiatives across universities worldwide, which is a testament to its effectiveness in showing students how the real world works and how to work it.

Although the implementation faced some initial challenges amid the pandemic disruptions, the EMC has now been appropriately digitised via an app to work seamlessly in a blended education system.

The Success Of The Entrepreneurial Curriculum 

 

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Since the launch of the EMC, the curriculum has been monitored closely and reviewed for its impact on the students. The results so far confirm our initial theory—experience is the king to drive any concept into the minds of youth. All the components have come together to result in students taking entrepreneurship to levels we did not even expect; that too, in the middle of a life-altering pandemic.

This is not to say that COVID-19 and the lockdowns did not hinder the process. However, as entrepreneurs like Sandeep Bikhchandani and Ritesh Agarwal have mentioned in their interactions with the students, perseverance is the fuel that will drive your path to success.

This is evident in the field projects of our students, which fill me with great pride. The projects started by students range from handicrafts to technology and much more—each idea more innovative than the next. What surprised us was how students used the EMC to develop new businesses during the pandemic, with seed money as little as ₹1,000.

And what shone in each of the projects was the passionate and focused mindset of the children to really build something of their own that no one else has seen.

This is what the EMC is built for and will continue to do for our nation’s youth. We need a country of innovators and leaders; this is the tool that will get us there.

Featured Image via flickr for representational purpose.
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