The word entrepreneur is from the French word entreprendre, which implies “to undertake”. Therefore an entrepreneur is an initiator, a formulator, a starter or a groundbreaker. He sees an opportunity, a gap or goldmine and after considering his strength, weaknesses, opportunities and the threats around him, he carefully takes a guarded risk, bringing in all the human and material resources available to him in order to achieve realistic goals he set for himself.
In her paper on Developing Entrepreneurial Skills in Secondary School Students, Dr. Mrs. Nneka Uka stated unequivocally that unemployment remains the most critical problem facing every nation today, including Nigeria. She further stated that Nigeria occupied a prime position as the second largest economy in Africa with a population of more than 150 million people and blessed with enormous natural resources. But the spate of unemployment which is estimated to be over 38 per cent, according to World Bank statistics, with secondary school graduates mostly found among the unemployed rural inhabitants does not justify the human and material strength of the most populous black nation in the world.
According to Dr. Nuru Yakubu, the Executive Director of National Board for Technical Education, “in 2006, government directed that entrepreneurship education be incorporated in all programmes offered in our tertiary institutions of learning as a mandatory course. Similarly, the National Council on Education at its 53rd meeting held in Calabar same year, also directed the higher education supervisory agencies to commence the production of appropriate training documents for the effective and efficient delivery of the programme. It was believed that this will engender the production of a crop of entrepreneurs with appropriate attitude and skills which will spur them on the path of creativity, innovation and enterprise thereby enable them to be job creators rather than job seekers and hence address the problem of graduate unemployment in the country and create job opportunities for the teeming Nigerian youths.”
After the successful integration of the entrepreneurship training to the curricula of higher institutions, the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) developed 34 subjects on compulsory trade/entrepreneurship for inclusion in the senior secondary school curriculum. The Executive Secretary of the council, Prof. Ismail Junaidu said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on October 25, 2016 that the subjects would be compulsory for the students in that category. According to Junaidu, the subjects are meant to empower the youths upon completing their education. He further reiterated that “the whole structure of the senior secondary school was changed – English, Mathematics, Civic Education and one trade subject, that is, either hair plaiting, or GSM repairs or fishing are compulsory. This was all done so as to make Nigerians to be job creators rather than job seekers. The main objectives of vocational education according to the National Policy of Education (2013) are: to prepare the learner for entry to employment and advancement in his chosen career; meet the manpower needs of the society; increase the options available to each student; serve as a motivating force of learning; and, enable the learner to wisely select a career. In order to achieve these objectives, the NERDC and the United National Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) have launched entrepreneurship curriculum project aimed at ensuring that senior secondary school students acquire functional trade and entrepreneurship skills.
Taking a holistic view of the philosophy behind entrepreneurship in the Nigerian curriculum, the programme is designed to help in: knowing techniques for generating business ideas as well as for identifying and assessing business opportunities; knowing how to evaluate a business idea for developing an enterprise; knowing methods of product/service selection; understanding the process and procedure for starting an enterprise; knowing the operational techniques in managing an enterprise; understanding the various existing industries and support agencies in Nigeria; appreciating the role of commercial and development banks in small and medium scale industries development and understanding the role of personal savings and portfolio investment in national economic development.
In order to align with the national philosophy of vocational education and inculcating in our college students the entrepreneurial mindset, Platform College, a coeducational school based in Ipeja Ayobo area of Lagos, had designed a robust entrepreneurship training which transcends just skills acquisition, but also financial intelligence, basic banking skills, marketing skill and small business management. Every student in the college opens a savings account in his bank of choice. This account is simply dedicated for training purpose and would not be used for any other purpose. The parent of the child is required to loan his child N15,000 to start up his small scale business. This money is to be returned by the child to the parent at the end of the term or at most at the end of the session. The children are put through basic training in different production of household chemical products such as bar soap, liquid soap, Dettol, Izal and so on. They are also taught how to make small chops, snacks, and other consumables. They produce these products themselves, brand them and package them in an attractive way. They do the production themselves from start to finish. They are taught how to market these products in their neighbourhood, in their religious centres and also to their relatives and family members. All the money realised from the sales are saved in their respective accounts. This account keeps on growing as they keep on selling and saving. They do at least two or three major productions every term. They are required to present their statement of account at the end of every term for assessment in the school. The initial capital loaned from their parent is to be returned while the profits will be ploughed into the business. The entrepreneurship department of the college is mandated to monitor the growth of the business and the bank account. Under no circumstance is a child permitted to spend from the account until he graduates from the college. This is the Platform Adapted Model for practical entrepreneurship training in secondary school. This model has been working with tremendous growth in the accounts of the children and high level of financial and business intelligence among the children. For further enquiries on this model and other innovations in entrepreneurship training in secondary schools, the entrepreneurship department of Platform College could be contacted.
Bola Obe is the Director, Platform School, Ipaja, Lagos