I recently had the opportunity of participating in a seminar on ideas to improve education so that it builds entrepreneurial capacity in the students.

Most of the speakers were people who had studied both in India and in the west and after that had started some organization of their own. They were extremely critical of the education system in India and one of the members in the audience went on to the extent to express that if teachers are put in corporate roles, they won’t be able to survive for over 15 days. I don’t know whether he is right or wrong in stating that. But i feel that somewhere we have to be more cautious even when we try to take the stand of criticism.

For me that was a bit of an exaggeration. Many people who have not delved into education with some interest would always tend to base their opinion either on their own experience (which is surely a very important reference point) and then the experience of probably their siblings or kids (in case they are parents at that stage).

The problem lies in according ‘schooling’ (not education) to be the panacea for all that the economy demands. Entrepreneurship is a deeply inner drive to start something of lasting value for which there are a lot of external and internal factors that need to be created. For example ability to take risks, to have independent thought process, ability to look into the future, to read patterns, welcome criticism etc. Now some of these internal factors can surely be nurtured in schools, but can there be an education system which purposefully nurtures entrepreneurship. Is that possible?  I really don’t think so since probably entrepreneurial mind set is much beyond that.  But yes these capacities of mind are fundamental. They are needed by a brand manager in P&G as much as they might be needed when someone goes about drafting a business plan for his venture.

I say so because after all wanting to start an organization or to work in any capacity- as employee, free lance, part time etc etc is all an individual’s prerogative and depends upon the world view of the person and is also a function of how the individual wants to engage with the world around.

One of the points that struck me positively was raised by a gentleman from Unlimited India who stated that education should not be anti-entrepreneurial. And this made a lot of sense to me.

In a world with increasing complexities, people would be required to be entrepreneurial, to be active citizens, to be responsible to the environment, be socially conscious, provide for their families, be technologically savvy, be great at communication, pursue their passions, not ignore their health  etc etc. Can this in that case be made the aim of education? Won’t we be making the life of our teachers complex beyond imagination if a child say doesn’t exhibit great appreciation for art but shows express interest in say civil services.  Does that mean that teachers didn’t do their job well because the person wants to do something which lakhs of Indians have already wanted to do in the past?

I feel that the idea should be to nurture basic capacities of mind, hands and heart and ensure that the same is done well so that the child is able to think what he/she wants to do, look at the world around with a sense of care, concern, joy and constantly strive to understand how he/she needs to engage with the world with all its myriad complexities and if possible leave the world better than how it was when he/she started working.
Giving precedence to one path of growth as against another will really not make the task of educating either simple or even worthwhile.

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