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UNESCO-APEID Consultation Meeting on Entrepreneurship Education, 9-10 February 2015, Bangkok, Thailand

UNESCO-APEID Consultation Meeting on Entrepreneurship Education
A Supportive Ecosystem for Entrepreneurship Education in Universities
9-10 February 2015
Bangkok, Thailand
(Group Photo)

 

Can entrepreneurship be taught?

Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable and Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, said: “It is good to have a class of people who are educated. But education is the enemy of entrepreneurship.” He added that education removes entrepreneurs from the system and turns them into bureaucrats. He also contended that people have to be taught to take intelligent risks – something that universities do not teach, because “if you make mistakes, you flunk the exam” (Cua, 2014).

There are, however, many who say entrepreneurship can be taught, and entrepreneurship education in universities is critical for the teaching and nurturing of entrepreneurship. An Economist Intelligence report in 2014 found that 81 percent of entrepreneurs interviewed said that they acquired more entrepreneurial skills through work experience rather than through education. At the same time, 79 percent admitted that their university education helped to start their own business although very few credited their primary and secondary schooling for launching their business. About 50 percent of the 18-25-year-olds surveyed thought that an academic degree was important to entrepreneurial success, but only 19 percent agreed that their universities were effective in equipping their students with the skills needed to start a business. The report concluded that successful entrepreneurs can make use of education, but traditional teaching methods risk undermining attitudes conducive to entrepreneurship. Clearly, many factors, including policy choices and the cultural environment, are needed to help aspiring entrepreneurs understand how they can avoid some of the many pitfalls of starting a business (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2014).

According to Drucker (1985), “[Entrepreneurship]’s not magic, it’s not mysterious, and it has nothing to do with the genes. It’s a discipline. And, like any discipline, it can be learned.” To help young people learn this discipline, higher education has to be relevant.

Representatives from nine countries met in Bangkok, Thailand, on 9-10 February 2015, to discuss how entrepreneurship education in higher education institutions (HEIs) can be more relevant and effective. Organized by UNESCO’s Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, the consultation meeting brought together key members from the UNESCO Entrepreneurship Education Network (EE-Net) to develop a research framework for a study on the ecosystem needed to support entrepreneurship education in HEIs. Acknowledging the challenges faced by HEIs, the participants concurred that it is necessary to look at a broad array of domains and factors, and understand how they interact, influence and contribute to the development of the individuals – not only for career advancement, but also for personal growth.

The research study aims to increase understanding and knowledge of entrepreneurship education in nine countries: China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka. Case studies and examples of successful programmes and interventions will used to formulate policy recommendations and action plans. The research findings are expected to be presented at the 4th UNESCO-APEID Meeting on Entrepreneurship Education to be held later this year.

To join the UNESCO EE-Net, visit www.unesco-eenet.org. For more information about the research study, contact Ms. Lay-Cheng Tan at lc.tan@unesco.org.

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