The Role of Entrepreneurship in our Future National Curriculum

Education in Barbados seems to be entering a new era and the powers that be, are seemingly undertaking an evaluation of the current secondary school curriculum, with much discussion on the abolition of the 11+/ common entrance exam. There is no doubt that, this selective exam has served this country well for 50 + years […]

By Chris Harper

September 23, 2019

Education in Barbados seems to be entering a new era and the powers that be, are seemingly undertaking an evaluation of the current secondary school curriculum, with much discussion on the abolition of the 11+/ common entrance exam. There is no doubt that, this selective exam has served this country well for 50 + years but much has changed in the world of work during this time, and how we respond to that change will require a re-evaluation of how we prepare and equip future generations of Barbadians to compete in this new and ever challenging environment.

Every couple of years, there is a new catch phrase which captures the mood of the nation, the economy and the world. Phrases or words such as “globalization”, “carbon footprint”, “sustainability”, “green economy”, “cultural industries” and of late, it seems to be “entrepreneurship”. There is, of course, the usual debate of who is or what makes you an entrepreneur. Is it a natural phenomenon or can it be taught? However, when it all boils down, it’s about the identification of an opportunity, the courage of your own conviction and then, having the correct tools to capitalize on it.

In terms of the available tools, there are several teaching methodologies (many of which have been around for a number of years) that incorporate the tenets of entrepreneurship in their attempt to teach it as a subject to the lay person. These techniques have been employed by the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business in their Lean Launch Pad Programme (sponsored by the Ministry of Labour) and also by the Caribbean Science Foundation in their Student Program for Innovation in Science & Engineering (SPISE) class, which focuses on the next generation of Caribbean leaders in the STEM field. This program is led by Dr. Dinah Sah, a biotechnology executive based in the Boston area who has more than 25 years of experience in research and drug development in the biotechnology industry and has been part of founding teams of new biotechnology companies developing novel classes of drugs to treat human neurological diseases, and Dr. Cardinal Warde, a Barbadian and professor of electrical engineering at MIT and is considered one of the world’s leading experts on materials, devices and systems for optical information processing. It is their desire to see a major technology originating from the Caribbean and key to this is entrepreneurship. Such is the importance of entrepreneurship to this vision that they have included it in their program for the past six (6) years.

So now that we have established that these models have been employed in Barbados with success for over five (5) years, let’s imagine this… What if the Government of Barbados was to introduce entrepreneurship into the national curriculum so that it would be taught, alongside English and Maths, in every school? What would the impact of this bold move be and what would the landscape look like in five (5) years?

Imagine, if every student leaving secondary school in Barbados, irrespective of whether they are in a STEM, skills/vocational or hospitality stream, had the understanding that they were entering a world where they were expected to deliver Value in whatever service they provide or product they produce and understood and could articulate what that value was? Suppose they could describe the Customer Segment they were providing that value for and could outline the Customer relationship they wished to establish and knew the Channels they would use to make them aware of the value they were offering?

What if these same students could identify the Key Activities they would have to perform in order to create this value and had an understanding of the Key Recourses needed? Further, let us assume that these same said students were acutely aware that they lacked the resources/infrastructure to do this on their own and were able to identify Key Partners to assist them in launching their product/service. Let’s say they had the ability to calculate their Cost Structure associated with the production of this value and all its elements? Finally, that they understood the Revenue Streams by which they would derive compensation for their value? Are you seeing the picture yet?

Investment in lifelong learning of our school children will reap rewards in the long term as we encourage students to see the world of work in a broader context , not just as a mere employee, but as someone who is able to take an idea from its inception through to its launch. Individuals who see the benefit of greater efficiency in the public sector, with less of an emphasis on “that is not my job” but rather a desire to work collaboratively across the board to achieve a more efficient front to back process. Ultimately, I hope that this will lead to more economically stable tax paying citizens who understand their business and the value that it adds to their lives and the growth of the country, both socially and economically.

So the question is, if these methodologies have been tried and tested, why are we not experimenting with implementing them in the school system? If Barbados is to prepare its citizens and future work force for the possibility of being voluntarily self-employed and still live at a standard comparable to those who take the employee route, we must make a conscious effort to provide them with the tools necessary to make this perceived leap, a natural step for future generations.

Chris Harper

Christopher Harper is the Programme Manager of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation a revolutionary organization with a mandate to transform Barbados in to the #1 entrepreneurial hub of the world by 2020. As programme manager he holds the mandate of the organization in high regard which aims to push Barbados forward in its development and on the world stage. Recently, he successfully gained his MBA in Strategic Management from Plymouth University in the UK. This trained musician is also the owner of Notes to Note Inc., a full service entertainment management company. The motto of his company is, The “Keeping the Arts Alive”, and it specializes in the production of cultural events and entertainment tailored to the specific needs of its clients. The company gained the distinction of winning the Barbados National Bank’s inaugural award for one of the Top Five Small Businesses for the Year 2004 as judged by the Small Business Association in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce. This talented musician studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston where he was awarded scholarships and received a number of awards from the Massachusetts State Senate and the Mayor of Boston for outstanding academic performance. With a heart to develop cultural industries in the Caribbean, between 2004 & 2009, he has hosted and coordinated the Berklee annual scholarship tour to Barbados. This initiative has resulted in over 20 musicians from the Caribbean receiving scholarships to the college. In 2009 he was nominated for the Anthony N. Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence. This entrepreneur also holds a post graduate diploma in Arts & Cultural Enterprise Management from the University of the West Indies St. Augustine Trinidad. The thesis topic for his MBA programme was “The Potential Contribution of Entrepreneurship to the Growth of a Developing Country”.