Promoting Entrepreneurship through Education: the New Business for Today's Teachers.


Sometime ago, I delivered the Guest lecture at the Investiture ceremony of the Rotaract Club of Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State , Nigeria specifically in November 2016. This paper was further developed as an article published in the maiden edition of the Awka Diocesan Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students , in Anambra State in May this year. I have decided to share here inn honor of my mother who taught for 33 years as a primary school teacher and who would have been 70 years if she were still alive.

I hope you find it refreshing.


“if your plan is for one year, plant rice; if your plan is for ten years, plant trees; if your plan is for a hundred years, educate children.” Confucius.

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The need to consciously build, develop and sustain a new cadre of entrepreneurs is ever so strong at this time of increasing global competitiveness, growing levels of government’s inability to pay salaries and massive retrenchment of workers in many sectors of the economy. The realization of the economic recession is such that it provokes some innate tendencies in us. After all, necessity they say, is the mother of inventions.

Socialization is one of the best means of transferring knowledge and keeping education alive and creating more literate people thereby establishing a rising army of new entrepreneurs with the right focus and commitment to turn ideas into workable solutions. This is my thesis.

Conceptualizing Education
According to John Dewey (1944), “education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits.” He continues by stating that “educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators, but learners may also educate themselves. He believes that education is a social process - a process of living and not necessarily a preparation for future living. This can be seen in the emphasis in learning and character formation during schooling. He concluded by saying that ”Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational.” It is instructive to point out at this juncture that the science, art, methodology and profession of teaching is called pedagogy.

The process of acquiring knowledge be it formal, semi formal or informal is sequential. Therefore,  “education is the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.” ( The essence of every knowledge is to improve one’s being and develop character.
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It is the act or process of imparting or acquiring particular knowledge or skills, as for a profession. I believe that Education in itself is a journey and not a destination. Literacy only helps to ignite the flames of education and set us on a part of endless learning and discovery.

For Mark K. Smith (2016), education is a deliberate act; learning which is part of it is both a process and outcome.  These words further accentuates the position of Mark Twain when he stated “I will not allow schooling get in the way of my education.”`

Understanding Entrepreneurship
The word entrepreneur originates from the French word, entreprendre, which means "to undertake." In a business context, it means to start a business. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary presents the definition of an entrepreneur as one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. " Niccolo Machiavelli once asserted "Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.”

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Notwithstanding its acknowledged centrality in the economic process, entrepreneurship has been defined differently by different authors and individuals. Entrepreneurship is a concept that is so protean in nature that it is virtually difficult to categorize it in a single acceptable definition. So much so that a well respected economist, Mark Casson once affirm that “entrepreneurship means different things to different people”. During one week each November, the Global Entrepreneurship Week GEW inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators.  The following are some useful definitions of entrepreneurship:

“Entrepreneurship is the act of being an entrepreneur, which is a French word meaning ‘one who undertakes innovations, finance and business acumen in an effort to transform innovations into economic goods’. This may result in new organizations or may be part of revitalizing mature organizations in response to a perceived opportunity.

The most obvious form of entrepreneurship is that of starting new businesses (referred as Startup Company); however, in recent years, the term has been extended to include social and political forms of entrepreneurial activity. When entrepreneurship is describing activities within a firm or large organization it is referred to as intra-preneurship and may include corporate venturing, when large entities spin-off organizations.”

“Entrepreneurship is the process of designing a new business, i.e. a startup company offering a product, process or service. The entrepreneur perceives a new business opportunity and often exhibits biases in their perception and subsequent decision to exploit the opportunity. The exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities may include design actions such as to develop a business plan, acquire the human, financial and other required resources, and to be responsible for its success or failure. Entrepreneurship may operate within an entrepreneurship ecosystem which includes government programs and services that promote entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship resources (e.g., business incubators and seed accelerators), entrepreneurship education, training and financing (e.g., loans, venture capital financing, and grants).”

“The capacity and willingness to develop, organize and manage a business venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit. The most obvious example of entrepreneurship is the starting of new businesses. In economics, entrepreneurship combined with land, labor, natural resources and capital can produce profit. Entrepreneurial spirit is characterized by innovation and risk-taking, and is an essential part of a nation’s ability to succeed in an ever changing and increasingly competitive global marketplace.”

Everyone is an inventor, a creator, an opportunist. The difference is the choice you make when the chance comes. Choices and not chances define who we are. Even if you are into career, the fact that you can receive information, manipulate and process such information; turning ideas by creating values which provides solutions to problems, then you are an entrepreneur. This is made possible through the insights received through education.

Let me state here at this juncture that entrepreneurship isn't a job, it is a lifestyle given to innovation, creativity, crazy schedules; entrepreneurs are not idea mongers, they are solutions providers. They push the idea to go beyond just business ideas into a business! Now that is solutions at work.

New Business: A Case for Teachers
"Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important." Bill Gates.

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Image Credit: Nigerian Union of  Teachers
No doubt there is a difference between teaching and learning though both are tools of education. I love teachers not just because my Mum was a primary teacher for 33 years before she retired and died why waiting for her entitlements; or because she came from a family of illustrious teachers, but because of how important the teacher is to character formation and in guiding the child through his endless journey of discovery

The theme for the 2016 World Teacher Day is *Valuing Teachers, Improving Their Status*. This theme is quite apt not only for the Nigerian society but also it best speaks to the African continent. It is so because here, teachers are not valued as much as education is. Every day, the teacher pours himself or herself as a libation for us to become better people. 

This is in response to Maria Montessori when she said "It is not enough for the teacher to love the child. She must first love and understand the universe. She must prepare herself, and truly work at it." If the teacher does this, then why can't we value them and then improve their status?

I believe teachers can help us promote access to better quality education but first, these things need be put in place. Today's business for teachers includes inspiring students to be entrepreneurial in their disposition to learning. No doubt traditional methods of teaching have only produced employees and not entrepreneurs. Therefore, until schooling can be transformed into tangible solutions, education has not really taken place. This should be the goal of Today's Teachers.

But in doing these, the teacher in promoting Entrepreneurship education for national development needs;

1.  Conducive learning environment.
Image result for images of conducive learning environment in NigeriaTeachers must be encouraged with the right tools to facilitate learning. It is appalling to note that some teachers despite the heavy workload, still undertake the job of ensuring that things are put in place. The teacher though part of the policy making process shouldn't be distracted by it. The teacher must also be entrepreneurial. This is where the Teacher as a mentor cones to play. It is sad to note that we have teachers teaching business development and administration who have never run any business venture in their lives. You cannot give what you don't have.

2. Teacher Training and Modern Pedagogy.
Education administrators must commit to a continuous investment in research and development in the sector. Teacher training is important in other to arm teachers with requisite current trends in teaching methods. Unfortunately, in many cases teachers pay for themselves and in these cases the fees are exorbitant. If governments in Africa can invest 26% of their annual budget to the education sector as prescribed by UNESCO then we can begin to attract more revenue from education tourism just like Finland, UK and USA.

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Furthermore, we must learn to appreciate the efforts of the experienced teachers who are retired. Eunice Thomas former Commissioner of Education in Akwa Ibom state is a strong advocate of embalming education by recycling our best brains in education and sending them to various parts of sector to develop the sector from within.

Image result for images of teachers and policy making in Nigeria3. Involvement of Teachers in policy making and implementation.
An African adage has it that "you cannot shave a man's head in his absence". A nation that wants to succeed in education must learn to not politicize it, for there is a huge gulf between politics and governance. Teachers must be included in the policy process from start to finish. In concluding this section it is quite apt to state here that entrepreneurial studies help us to provide a solid structure for effective entrepreneurship and today's teachers have a great part to play.

Why Entrepreneurship Education?
1. Teaching entrepreneurship gives students the capacity to not only start companies but also to think creatively and ambitiously, independent of government jobs.
2. Entrepreneurship education benefits students from all socioeconomic backgrounds because it teaches kids to think outside the box and nurtures unconventional talents and skills.
3. Furthermore it creates opportunities, ensures social justice, instills confidence and stimulates the economy.

To conclude this piece,  I support the following for our teachers if we must promote entrepreneurs through education;

I.   Better pay for teachers
II.  Insurance policy for them
III. More Funding for our education sector, infact the 26% UNESCO advice.
IV. Continuous teacher training programs.
V.  Re-orientation of the society on the importance of teachers by the government.

Chimezie Judemary Udechukwu

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