Over the past three years, the educational outcomes and future job prospects of more than 10,000 students from 15 schools islandwide have been greatly enhanced by their engagement in social enterprise awareness sessions under the British Council’s Social Enterprise in Secondary Schools Programme.
This was disclosed by Acting Country Manager of the British Council, Damion Campbell, who noted that the student-led, teacher-guided initiative has had a positive impact on students’ confidence and improved their critical thinking, leadership abilities and collaboration skills.
Mr. Campbell, who was addressing the Council’s second annual Social Enterprise in Secondary Schools Summit, which was held virtually on Wednesday (March 24), also noted that through the programme’s various interactive sessions, “we have had young people being very interested to start their enterprise clubs”.
“They have also been supported through master trainers who were trained by our consultants in the United Kingdom (UK) around social entrepreneurship to engage young people [about] what it means to run a successful social enterprise, starting from… school, but eventually seeing themselves as a successful social entrepreneur once they transition to the work world,” he said.
Further, under the programme, 60 teachers have been trained in social enterprise methodology, 170 organisations have been engaged, and 18 million people have been reached globally through various publications and broadcasts.
Mr. Campbell noted that in more than 30 countries, the Council has seen where social enterprise “has really supported young people to improve their prospects for employment and also improving the necessary skills that they need for living”.
“From this programme, we have seen, globally, where it enhances the creativity of young people; it enhances their resilience, especially in times as this where we are dealing with a global pandemic. It inspires; it allows young people to be more risk-tolerant,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, in her remarks welcomed the summit “as an important partnership with the British Council and our private sector… in the steps to heighten awareness about added opportunities for training for our students, especially our boys”.
The Minister, who participated in a round-table discussion during the event, along with Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, noted that given the importance of young people possessing a variety of skills and being able to demonstrate flexibility and adaptability when they enter the workforce, the Ministry has widened the scope of technical and vocational education training in secondary-level schools.
“It is also intended to improve access to work and further learning by ensuring that qualifications are relevant to employment and learning and meet the needs of learners and the job market as well as education and training institutions,” she said.
In his remarks, British High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Asif Ahmad, noted that investment in young people, particularly through social enterprise engagement, whether over a short period or through the entire schooling process, “can equip them for the world of work in a very different way”.
“The world of enterprise really is the single biggest employer in the world and it’s not just about big businesses. The backbone of the British economy and many emerging economies is the small and medium-sized sector, which basically means that entrepreneurship has to be something that young people are equipped with well before they leave school,” he said.
The Social Enterprise in Secondary Schools Programme, which is being delivered by the British Council in partnership with Victoria Mutual Foundation Limited and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, aims to increase students’ knowledge of social innovation and entrepreneurship.
Using the British Council’s Social Enterprise in Schools Resource Pack, which also incorporates the British Council core skills, the programme seeks to address the gap in global skills development, which is critical to meeting the needs of students in the 21st century in a globalised economy.
The seven core skills the students were exposed to are critical thinking and problem solving; collaboration and communication, creativity and imagination; citizenship; digital literacy; student leadership; and financial literacy.