Starting in September this year, entrepreneurship classes will become mandatory in all high schools.
State Minister for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Floyd Green, says this is one of the major initiatives of the Government to revamp the education system to produce more rounded individuals.
“[We have] realigned our curriculum in what we now call the new standards curriculum to focus less on the passing of exams and more on the person we create at the end of the educational journey,” he notes.
The State Minister was addressing the opening of a two-day Youth for Sustainable Development Conference at the University of Technology (UTech) in St. Andrew on Thursday (July 26).
He said that for a long time, in Jamaica and across the Commonwealth, the educational system has focused on the “conveyor belt” approach, where students keep moving along the system regardless of the outcome of their schooling.
Mr. Green argued that this practice has to change in order to produce critical thinkers and individuals who are capable of creating sustainable, meaningful futures.
He noted that a key part of this undertaking is to provide students with the tools to become self-sufficient through exposure to entrepreneurship principles.
To this end, the Ministry has partnered with Junior Achievement Jamaica (JAJ) to incorporate the Junior Achievement Company of Entrepreneurs (JACE) programme into the ninth-grade curriculum.
“So, all our grade-nine students will come together in groups, and they will have to work with a business plan, they will have to put together a business and the business must have the principles of sustainability,” he said.
The programme, which has already reached 40 schools, with another 80 high schools targeted in the new school year, provides hands-on experience in running a business while students learn the fundamental skills necessary to make successful enterprises.
It is expected that the learning and practical experience gained from running the companies will provide students with a viable option to pursue entrepreneurship as their main income stream or may supplement it while being employed in their particular areas of training.
The JAJ is part of the global non-profit organisation, Junior Achievement Worldwide, which provides training for young people in entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work-readiness.
By: Alecia Smith