Today’s children, driving the economy of tomorrow, should be better prepared to manage the uncertainties of the future, create their own careers aligned with their passion, and develop entrepreneurial thinking skills while solving real world problems. Despite good infrastructure and schools that meet global standards, India’s education system continues to lag behind other countries in terms of learning outcomes and preparing students for the future. An entrepreneurial spirit helps the next generation to empathize, convert problems into opportunities, and create solutions that can change the world.
Entrepreneurial events can give kids a platform to showcase their business ideas and nurture a generation of changemakers striving to improve their lives and the world around them. The activation of entrepreneurial thinking skills in school children encourages them to become “job creators” rather than “job seekers”. Entrepreneurial platforms encourage students to develop ideas that can meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). FinancialExpress.com caught up Sushil Mungekar – Founder and CEO of Enpower, which runs India’s Future Tycoon program and told him about vocational training and entrepreneurship in India. Excerpts:
Why is there a need for competency-based learning in our education system?
Our education system thrives on a “job-centric mindset” that can be traced back to the colonial era. A job-centric mindset equates success with “good-paying jobs at top companies.” This process of preparing for “what’s good over there” most often fails to do justice to “what’s good in me.” Fighting for scarce jobs creates artificial pressure to get better grades and grades in exams. The obsession with getting better grades and grades drives students into a frantic race. Extra classes in schools and private coaching leave students without the bandwidth to pursue activities that invoke creativity or innovation.
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Competency-based learning, especially entrepreneurship learning, can lead to a radical change in the “job-centric” mentality and promote a “job-creating” mentality. Instilling competency-based learning in our education system will enhance curiosity, foster creativity, independent thinking, acceptance of failure, and an innovative mindset in students. Entrepreneurship learning nurtures self-discovery, creates a sense of independence, pushes students to identify problems, convert them into opportunities, and create meaningful solutions. This will not only lead to changes in the quality of life for our students, but will also transform our country into an innovation-driven economy.
Why is there a need for standardized entrepreneurship learning in our school curriculum?
Entrepreneurship learning in schools should be standardized by developing a structured and age-appropriate curriculum, it should be based on state-of-the-art learning content and DIY interventions should be implemented to make the more experiential learning. Building the capacity of educators to innovate and think creatively is imminent to roll out this structured program. Unlike tests or exams, innovative monitoring and evaluation systems based on scientific tools must be designed to measure the impact of learning.
Unless we standardize entrepreneurship learning in our school curricula, it will quickly lose its relevance. School boards should take a keen interest in ensuring that the subject receives the attention it deserves in all schools, among other academic subjects. There is a great opportunity to embed entrepreneurial skills and mindsets to accelerate learning in other academic subjects. Entrepreneurship learning will thus help to unfold holistic learning for a child.
Why do students need competitive platforms to hone and showcase their design thinking skills?
First, competitions such as the IFT help build understanding of what entrepreneurship is and why it is needed to prepare children for the uncertainties of the future. Second, these competitive platforms help bring all stakeholders together. These also help expose students to industries and start-up ecosystems, which aids in experiential learning. Third, these platforms push students to find solutions to real-world problems. It’s really experiential. This helps them through an entrepreneurial life cycle. Students collaborate with each other while building their ideas. In such cases, what they build is secondary, but the process they go through makes them learn a lot, especially skills such as courage and perseverance, failure management, collaboration and initiative or proactivity.
What is the basic idea and inspiration behind IFT? How many schools have participated in the IFT and how are they contributing?
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IFT is an experiential platform for students to walk through the process of entrepreneurship. Over the past four years, we have tried to connect all relevant stakeholders on one platform to create a transformational experience for students. Although at first it may seem like a competition and a game of winning or losing, the processes are designed to ensure that every child is ‘touched’ and can take home an experience for a lifetime. We have always believed that students at this age are a wealth of ideas. Their ability to think beyond the obvious, connect the dots and create disruption is very high. Unfortunately, the current academic system and learning pedagogy does not do justice to their creative minds. IFT helps students express their creativity and unleash their true potential. It gives them the opportunity to think about what kind of future they want to build. As India’s first-ever entrepreneurship research and mentoring platform exclusively for young adults, it provides national recognition for students where they can build and present ideas that have the potential to change the world.
Over the past 3 years, more than 596 schools have participated in the IFT. This year, more than 497 new schools are participating in Season 4 of Future Magnates of India! We received 8526 registrations. The students or the school do not pay any fees because registration at the IFT is completely free.
How does the Mentoring Bootcamp work?
The Future Tycoons “Virtual” Bootcamp in India is one of the most anticipated segments of the competition every year! From the thousands of entries, IFT Jury selects the top 400 teams across India. They participate in the 6-hour Bootcamp filled with exciting activities, fun programs and hands-on entrepreneurial learning workshops. Experts in Design Thinking, technology and entrepreneurship mentor students to improve their social business ideas. Students are exposed to future technology tools, ideation techniques, opportunity analysis, business creation process, brand communication, resource management, and finance. After Bootcamp, students resubmit refined ideas and undergo another round of assessments. Of these only TOP 24 teams reach the semi-finals.
How does FTI help young entrepreneurs bring their ideas to fruition outside of funding?
IFT’s DIY Ideation Sessions give students disruptive thinking tools to shape their business ideas. Our Virtual Bootcamp empowers TOP 400 teams to create user-centric solutions. Live mentorship by technology experts helps students explore future technologies that can convert their ideas into scalable projects. We also host IFT Partner Sessions where students can interact with leading industry professionals and organizations. TOP 24 teams benefit from exclusive mentoring sessions with experts to refine their pitch ideas. Industry veterans and expert entrepreneurs give valuable insights to students. TOP 12 teams have the opportunity to give an Elevator Pitch to an esteemed panel of judges in a reality show-like finale. Selected winners get seed funding, cash rewards, and exclusive launch mentorship.
While earning a “seed fund” from investors is a huge achievement for a student, IFT offers so much more than that! IFT is a platform that encourages young minds to apply innovation and creative thinking to create innovative business ideas that solve social problems. The skills and abilities learned here create an entrepreneurial mindset for life!
How many children have started their business after participating in the IFT?
Again, IFT does not pretend to inspire students to become entrepreneurs in the middle of their studies. It nurtures an “entrepreneurial mindset” that will help them derive success, happiness, and their best potential in the career they choose.
That said, we have seen early adopters through our IFT process where students have built business ideas while continuing to excel in their academic performance.
Advit Ranawade from Dhirubhai Ambani International School along with Anisha Jani School and Rahil Chadha Arya Vidya Mandir were part of the Bloom team in IFT 2. Together they developed a faucet attachment with sensors to reduce the water consumption. This device is currently at the patent stage. Season 3 finalists Diya Sijwali and Parth Puri of Tagore International School created Sehpaathi, a non-binary gender inclusive learning platform funded by brands like Godrej, Arihant and The Lalit. This business is already generating revenue successfully. After being among the 6 finalists for Future Tycoons Season 3 in India, Divya and Parth won the NFTE World Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge with a new idea, “Tyron” – a sustainable startup that converts tires into discarded rubber in fashionable shoes.
Many other promising ideas are taking shape in the ongoing season 4 of IFT 4.