A look into the Delhi government’s plan to teach entrepreneurial soft skills in public school students and how the startup community is contributing to it
There are 12 Mn students entering the job market every year. If all of them are just looking for a job, a regular 9-to-5 job, how will it work? Kunal Khattar, an investor in startups such as Shuttl and Rapido, believes students need more help to become entrepreneurs. Khattar is one of 3K entrepreneurs taking time out over the past few months to coach Delhi’s public school kids on how to develop a more entrepreneurial mindset.
Started in July by the Delhi government as a pilot, the Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum (EMC) is aimed at instilling an innovation mindset among students and enabling them to take their ideas to the next stage, while creating future “job-providers” in the country.
Under the EMC, each day, kids from classes 9 to 12th in 1,024 Delhi schools spend 40 minutes picking up soft skills such as speaking with confidence, problem-solving and understanding how businesses work. While EMC is compulsory, it is a non-graded subject, so students don’t face the same performance pressure as in examinations.
Students are each given INR 1,000 as ‘seed money’ to enable them to develop their ideas, and will get to keep it if their ideas grow into a money-making business.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who oversees the education portfolio in the Delhi state government and whose brainchild this project is, said in February: “This will open up multiple new possibilities for students in Delhi government schools, as they explore various options and choose their profession.”
Sisodia has said that the EMC will help in dealing with joblessness, economic slowdown and unemployment.
How Delhi’s Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum Was Started
The EMC was created by educator, serial entrepreneur and software analyst Tarak Goradia and Prithvi Reddy, a Bengaluru-based entrepreneur and member of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is the ruling party in Delhi.
“From my time as school-going kid in the 1970s to the current generation, the conversation around career options has not changed. It’s the usual suspects — doctor, engineer, chartered accountant and so on. And to me that is a shame that kids are not thinking of more creative venues,” Goradia said, speaking about the inspiration behind the programme in a facebook interaction in September.
Goradia, a self-proclaimed introvert, said growing up he had a bad stammer and it was only after joining the global Toastmasters fraternity at the age of 45 that he discovered the freedom of expression. So on returning to India, he started running a communication initiative called the Youth Leadership Programme.
Last year, he reached out to AAP leader and educator Atishi Marlena seeking her advice on scaling up this programme. Marlena told him to run a pilot when Reddy came up with Sisodia’s proposal of the entrepreneurship mindset curriculum.
“I said this is the mother of all soft skills teaching programmes and just jumped into it,” Goradia said.
Entrepreneurship As An Experience
This programme is not about teaching hardcore business skills like accounting and financial planning but to create a mindset among students that instead of looking at pay packages, look at opportunities, take risks, be bold and bounce back from failures — all the things great entrepreneurs are made of — people involved with the initiative told Inc42.
“Essentially we define entrepreneurship as the ability to create value,” – Tarak Goradia
After the state education department met and discussed the scope of the programme with close to 60 educational NGOs and entrepreneurs, the EMC problem statement was whittled down to to address three clear problems:
- If there are no job creators, where will the jobs come from?
- Unemployable graduates: Good multinational companies send fresh hires on three-month training programmes just for starting level jobs, so what is the education system doing to solve this?
- All educationists agree that we need to bring in work related experiences into the education system
With those three objectives, the team started work on launching the pilot and a full-scale launch by July. Work started in February and a pilot project was carried out across 24 schools in Delhi from April 1 to May 10 to gather feedback. Seventy-six classroom observers and 480 teachers were provided training.
Since then the programme has gained rapid traction, having trained over 18K teachers in the EMC. The state government has reportedly allocated a budget of INR 40 Cr to INR 50 Cr towards it. The classes start with an exercise in mindfulness for five minutes, and then goes into icebreaker activities, small-unit field projects and live entrepreneur interactions.
“I was pleasantly surprised that after my sessions kids were asking questions about jobs in programming, coding or building video games,” Khattar, the founder of venture capital firm AdvantEdge said.
“I will continue to remain engaged with the EMC programme and take out time to interact with kids. Even if one or two of those kids turn into entrepreneurs, I will consider my work successful,” he added.
A Call To All Delhi Entrepreneurs:
If you would like to contribute to the Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum by giving your time and expertise, and share your story of how you acted on the opportunity, the challenges you faced and overcame, and what you learned about yourself during this journey. Head to this link to enroll yourself.