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Entrepreneurship Education Meeting: Answering Opportunity's Knock

For young people innovation is no longer merely a means to gain a competitive edge; it is essential for survival in a global economic climate where traditional sources of employment have largely dried up.

With an estimated 70 million youth (15-24 years old) unemployed worldwide and similar unemployment rates in Asia-Pacific compounded by extreme poverty, this need has never been more pronounced.

Addressing these challenges was the aim of the "3rd UNESCO-APEID Meeting on Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship Education for Global Prosperity", organized by UNESCO Bangkok and Malaysia's Ministry of Education from 10 to12 December in Kuala Lumpur.

UNESCO Bangkok Director Gwang-Jo Kim spoke of the inextricable link between innovation and national advancement in his opening remarks at the meeting. "The differentiation between countries should not be 'developed' or developing'. Instead it should be whether they are 'innovation rich' or 'innovation poor'.

"Policy makers and educators in Asia and the Pacific are looking for answers to be innovation rich, and in the process deal with the massive youth unemployment issue," Dr Kim said. "I strongly believe that the answers lie in education in general, and entrepreneurship education in particular."

The forum brought together 120 participants from 21 countries, including policymakers, educators, entrepreneurs and youth representatives. Participants shared successful innovations and educational approaches to entrepreneurship education and also identified areas of cooperation. The launch of the UNESCO Entrepreneurship Education Network (EE-Net) at the meeting was a concrete step towards these goals.

Dr Kim said that such collaboration was essential to prepare youth to cope with modern challenges.

"It is our responsibility as educators to help our students unleash their entrepreneurial potential to meet 21st century needs," he said. "To nurture entrepreneurship requires a rethinking of our education systems, pedagogies, curricula and other education services and activities."

In his opening remarks, Malaysian Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that along with creating opportunities for unemployed youth, instilling an entrepreneurial mindset in young people carries benefits far beyond the individual.

"Inspired, self-confident, talented entrepreneurial graduates are critical to national growth," he said. "They are more likely to start and lead dynamic new enterprises and social ventures as well as to have the capacity to transform the organization they lead and manage."

Professor Paul Hannon, acting CEO at the UK's National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education, delivered the meeting's keynote address. He said that the biggest challenge for participants would be changing mindsets, recalling his younger days when he had to face societal and familial expectations that did not value entrepreneurial spirit.

Subsequent presentations touched on the need to create an "ecosystem" that favors entrepreneurship education at all levels and what is lacking in the teaching and learning on the subject. The impact of entrepreneurs on community development in terms of lifting people out of poverty and building self-esteem was the focus of another session.

The final session, meanwhile, focused on Strategic Entrepreneurial Networking, which included a focus on tech-based solutions to assist entrepreneurs and participants' experience in creating entrepreneurial networks.

Going forward, participants agreed to use EE-Net and other bonds formed during the meeting to promote entrepreneur education and foster a mindset that values innovation. Countries, universities, industries and organizations must, they agreed, recognize entrepreneurship education's essential role in working towards the goal of sustainable global prosperity.

10-12 December 2013, Royale Chulan Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

By Noel Boivin, Media Relations Officer, UNESCO Bangkok



Presentations and speeches

News articles

Concept paper

Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia’s welcome speech and closing remarks

UNESCO Bangkok Director’s speech