'Entrepreneurship' was just a word for students of Delhi government schools till a few months back but now it has become an interesting class session which the students look forward to.
Launched for students of Class 9 to 12, it involves connecting knowledge to life outside the school and ensuring that learning is shifted away from rote methods.
Developed by the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), the curriculum is building awareness and knowledge of various aspects of entrepreneurship among the students.
"The curriculum is designed such that understanding and learning happens through active participation of teachers and students. The curriculum includes activities, stories, discussion and reflection based enquiry. This promotes mindfulness, self-awareness, critical thinking, perspective building, communication and self-reflection skills," an official from the SCERT said.
There is no textbook for the curriculum but only a teacher's manual.
"The evaluation of students will be done based on their reflections in the classroom and the teacher's observations. There is no formal examination and it is non-evaluative," the official said.
The aim of the curriculum, according to the government, is to make students confident, creative and competent.
Initiated by Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia and his team, the main idea behind the curriculum was to instil confidence among the children that after completing their education, they should aspire to be job givers and not job seekers.
Launched in February 2019 as a pilot and later spreading to several schools, the curriculum unleashes the inner potential of the child.
It is giving an opportunity to the students to meet and interact with real-life entrepreneurs and understand their journeys and struggles. The objective of the interaction is to inspire students with the journey of entrepreneurs.
During this interaction, students learn about the dreams, opportunities, challenges and stories of overcoming the fears and struggles along with the learning from the journey. Over 1.5 lakh students from over 500 schools are part of the curriculum. The students, when asked, seemed very excited about the curriculum and its class.
"During the class, we get to do interesting activities. The teachers encourage us to get involved in thinking creatively," said Ms. Sugandha, a class 9 student.
For Ms. Ridhi, a class 11 student of a Delhi government school, the takeaway from the class was to do what one wants to do in life.
"From the time we join the school, we were told that we should study hard to get a good job. But the teachers told us that we should do what we love in our lives. This has forced me to think what I want to do in my life," she said, adding she is yet to find a passion.
For Suresh of her class, the takeaway was the confidence of doing something of his own.
"I wanted to do something of my own. Both my parents are working in private jobs. I did not want to go through the same. I am learning to be a confident entrepreneur. We are getting a chance to interact with those who have established themselves as entrepreneurs. We are getting the opportunity to learn so much," said 17-year-old Suresh.
For Ms. Shefali, the curriculum taught her to accept her mistakes. "We learned that there will be hardships and we may make mistakes. But it will be better if we accept our mistakes and move ahead."
The takeaways were different for each student and so was the reaction of the parents to the curriculum.
"My daughter discusses different ideas for business with me and I like her interest. I could only manage a very small business. I wish I too was given an opportunity like she is being exposed to," said Mr. Prashant, a small businessman from Laxmi Nagar.
Sisodia constantly monitors the curriculum and talks to the students frequently about the new curriculum. He believes that the 'Entrepreneurship Mindset' is the solution to joblessness.
"The EMC programme takes on a whole new approach to address the problem of unemployment and brings about a paradigm shift. In an effort to motivate students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, the Delhi Government has decided to give Rs 1,000 to every student as seed money," Sisodia said.
He said during his interaction with the students, he finds a lot of interesting ideas for their business from the students.
He recalled that while some suggested setting up a food stall, another student came up with the idea of making hair accessories from the seed money and selling them to her friends for a profit. Sisodia said the students are full of creativity and all they need is the right direction.
"Around 2.5 lakh students pass out from Delhi every year, if only 50,000 of them become entrepreneurs, we will never have the problem of joblessness anymore. And for this, having the 'Entrepreneurial Mindset' is very important. It determines our progress towards becoming a developed economy.
"Our young minds should be taught to pick up skills and not wait for someone to hire them. They should already be equipped and efficient enough to start a business venture on their own and make their ends meet. Our aim is to give both the options to students and let them choose. We have to stop them from limiting themselves as job seekers, to embracing the mindset and the possibility of becoming job creators or entrepreneurs," Sisodia said.
The development of such a mindset, according to Sisodia, is very crucial at a time when there are not enough jobs.
"After at least 15 years of formal education, if large numbers of the youth are not confident of creating something innovative which can give them gainful return and add value to the economy then as a society we are failing to nurture their full potential," he said.
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