Freedom Month is typically a time when we reflect on all of the advances that we’ve made as a society since the advent of democracy. One area of reflection may revolve around how far we’ve come in terms of education, especially as this is a basic human right enshrined in our constitution.

Since 1994, government has been working hard to ensure that this is the case, with the biggest share of the country’s National Budget being spent on education every year.

But while we have made progress, the growing demands of the 21st century has shone a light on where we can still improve — especially when it comes to entrepreneurial education. The revised sector plan 2035 acts as a guideline for the Implementation of Entrepreneurship Education in South African Schools through the DBE-E3 Programme, ensuring that “every child is a national asset and no child should be left behind.”

Without a thorough incorporation of entrepreneurship education and the ability to prepare our learners both young and adult – will continue to fall short of their full potential. The World Economic Forum (2009) states, “Entrepreneurship education is essential for developing the human capital necessary for the society of the future. It is not enough to add entrepreneurship on the perimeter – it needs to be core to the way education operates.”

Freedom Month is a celebration of South Africa’s transition to democracy and the achievement of freedom and equality. Education is a fundamental part of this celebration as it plays a critical role in promoting social and economic development, and empowering individuals to participate fully in society.

The DBE-E3 believes that Entrepreneurship occurs when people of the search-and-discovery generation find and solve problems by being self-directed in their search for and pursuit of opportunities to create value for others. The DBE-E3 further states that Entrepreneurial people have certain characteristics that ALL young people need to succeed in a changing world.

Turning ideas into action

Entrepreneurship education is about learners developing the skills and mindset to be able to turn creative ideas into entrepreneurial action. This is a key competence for all learners, supporting personal development, active citizenship, social inclusion, and employability. It is relevant across the lifelong learning process, in all disciplines of learning and to all forms of education and training (formal, non-formal and informal) which contribute to an entrepreneurial spirit or behaviour, with or without a commercial objective. (European Commission, 2014, p. 9).

The DBE-E3, the Department of Basic Education’s flagship programme in South Africa, seeks to equip educators to prepare learners to have an entrepreneurial mindset and leave their school lives prepared to be solution-seeking active participants in the changing world after school.

“Education is an essential part of Freedom Month celebrations. It is a time to celebrate the achievements of South African educators and promote access to quality education for all. It is also an opportunity to showcase the role of education in promoting social justice and economic empowerment,” says James Donald, executive director of DBE-E3.

Entrepreneurship education is essential not only to shape the mindsets of young people but also to provide the skills, knowledge and attitudes that are central to developing an entrepreneurial culture.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world-” Nelson Mandela. This quote by Nelson Mandela is one of the most famous sayings on the value of education. As we prepare our learners to thrive and reach their fullest potential, we can all be inspired by Mandela’s vision, his values and how he used his education and his attitude to do good in the world (living and demonstrating an entrepreneurial way of being).

As the world we live in changes to embrace tech futures, how and what we teach in our education system will also be reshaped to keep up to date with the growing demands of the 21st century.


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