Entrepreneurship Education: Mechanism for Employability, Self-Reliance and National Development

Entrepreneurship education aims at instilling and inculcating entrepreneurial spirit, self-reliant mindsets and deepening students’ awareness of limitless business ideas as well opportunities within and around their environment.

Historically, Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa ethnic nationalities were great entrepreneurs and businessmen. It was the business exploits of Nigerians that attracted the European explorers to Nigeria as well as other regions in Africa. The concept of entrepreneurship education has always been with Nigerians and taught by elders, not in classrooms but on the farms, markets, riverside and at homes; it is a culture and enjoyable habit transferred from one generation to another.

The traditional entrepreneurship taught in pre-colonial Nigeria produced able-bodied men and women with right mind-set who were ready to be mobilized for communal projects and developmental programmes. There were nothing like unemployment or idleness in pre-colonial Nigeria because every household had inherited vocations. There are households that specialised in fishing, farming, hunting, priesthood, drumming/dancing, specialised in fishing, farming, hunting, priesthood, drumming/dancing, blacksmithing, dress making, tools repairs et cetera. In fact everybody was engaged and laziness was not condoned.

The entrepreneurship mind-set of ethnic nationalities in Nigeria was beautifully articulated by Ananaba (1969). He wrote: “The economy of the various states which make-up modern Nigeria was basically a subsistence economy and customs had established the practice that people serve their parents, village heads and the community without remuneration. On a given day, people went and work for a particular individual. Through the day, the man they serve was responsible for their food and drink. On another day, the man returned the service and it went on until everybody in the group was served.”

The mindset of Nigerian youth from Ananaba’s analysiswas self-employment and desires to develop their immediate communities. However, the advent of British colonialism and its white-collar education system eroded love for self-employment, independence and self-realization. Rather than graduates from colonial school working for themselves; they opted for white collar jobs in the cities and districts. This devastating love for ready-made jobs or what is otherwise called paid employment corrupted the subconscious minds of Nigerian youths. The love for paid jobs has become a sickness, which as even worsened the rate of general unemployment in Nigeria.

The number of Nigerians who are unemployed is rising at alarming rate. This ugly development calls for serious concern from all and sundry. The government has a bigger share of the challenge of unemployment, while the school system, parents, media, religious organisations have significant role to play towards dousing the tension of joblessness and hopelessness in Nigeria.

Considering the fact that this article attempts to look at the role of entrepreneurship education at embedding national development, there is the urgent need to refocus tertiary education to produce graduates who are self-employed and self-reliant. Analysts suggested the need for universities and polytechnicsto provide quality manpower because the graduates turned-out in the recent by tertiary institutions do not meet the need of the employers of labour. The Nigerian graduates are good theorists but deficient in practical skills, hence do not meet the need of the competitive labour market.

Entrepreneurial Education Introduced in Curriculla

The Federal Ministry of Education (FME) in a bid to correct the problems highlighted above, introduced entrepreneurship education into the curricula of the universities, polytechnics and colleges of education through their regulatory/supervisory agencies – National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE).

Entrepreneurship education became imperative in higher institutions in Nigeria because it offers a realistic approach to solving the endemic problem of unemployment, hopelessness and social malaise. It has since been made a compulsory course for all undergraduates at the three levels of higher education irrespective of courses of study. The National Universities Commission states that the overall objective (of entrepreneurship education is to continuously foster entrepreneurship culture amongst students and faculty with a view of not only educating them but to also support graduates of the system towards establishing and also maintaining sustainable business ventures, including but not limited to those arising from research.

Based on the policy thrust quoted above, entrepreneurship education was officially introduced into the curricula of tertiary institutions effective from 2007/2008 academic session. Support for entrepreneurship education since its introduction has been very commendable.it is on record that the International Labour Organisation provided support for the introduction of Entrepreneurial Education and Vocational Education through technical assistance in Nigeria. The interest in entrepreneurship education has grown judging by the increasing number of research works on the subject, the number of courses in entrepreneurship, growing number of schools offering entrepreneurship as a core subject and the coverage of entrepreneurship by the electronic and print including Talkworld Media outfit.

This article concludes with entrepreneurship initiatives always pay off, wherever it is engendered. Please make up your mind to be creators of jobs rather than job seekers. It is not peculiar to Nigeria, it is an international problem. Therefore, think about what you want to do for yourself to impact of Nigeria, rather than waiting and lamenting on what Nigeria should do for you. Join us in the next edition to learn more about entrepreneurship education.