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Entrepreneurship education

© UNESCO / Lay Cheng Tan

The Economist (April 27-May 3, 2013), quoted the late Margaret Thatcher as saying, “Young people ought not to be idle. It is very bad for them.”

Unfortunately, more young people are being idle according to statistics from OECD, ILO and the World Bank. About 200 million people – of whom 75 million are under 25 years old – are unemployed. At least 600 million jobs are needed over the next 15 years to keep current employment rates. If left unattended, idle and jobless young people will represent a lost generation of valuable human resources.

Traditionally, young people expect to find jobs in either the public or private sector after they finish their schooling. Faced with on-going economic and financial challenges, reliance on business-as-usual practices is not a solution. Consequently, many governments looking for alternative, innovative approaches are encouraging their youth to become entrepreneurs to create job opportunities for themselves and their peers.

However, being an entrepreneur means more than just knowing how to start up a small shop or business. Rather, entrepreneurship is about developing and cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit – creativeness, innovativeness, curiosity, lateral thinking, adaptability, resourcefulness, risk-taking and so on – regardless of the profession or career path to be taken. From this perspective, entrepreneurship can be taught and learned. But to nurture entrepreneurship requires a rethinking of our education systems, pedagogies, curriculum and other education services and activities.

Working in collaboration with Ministries of Education, educational institutions, international organizations and private sector entities, UNESCO Bangkok plans to promote entrepreneurship education through a variety of activities and channels. With seed funding from the Japanese Funds-in-Trust, proposed activities include (i) establishing the Entrepreneurship Education Network (EE-Net); (ii) conducting research on entrepreneurship education; and (iii) creating a database of successful entrepreneurs in Asia and the Pacific to serve as mentors for future entrepreneurs.

For more information, please contact Ms. Lay-Cheng Tan, lc.tan@unesco.org.

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