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From entrepreneurial people to happy nation!

Milena Stoycheva, CEO, JA Bulgaria

We argue that today constructive entrepreneurship is the ability to create value for society and its members –It has already become a career choice preferred by many young people. Although it does include setting up and running one’s own business, entrepreneurship is much more than that.

Entrepreneurship Education in Bulgaria today

Constructive entrepreneurship is socially desirable because nurturing entrepreneurship means nurturing a mindset and a behavior. Such a mindset is desperately needed in Bulgaria (where pessimism, apathy and lack of direction are sadly the preferred way of life by many individuals). Giving the opportunity to all students to have an entrepreneurial experience at school will produce a dramatic societal shift within the next 10-15 years – from entrepreneurial –willing persons to a happy nation!

The need for a comprehensive strategy to address the challenges of a new economy related to young people’s skills and mindset has long been evident in Bulgaria and JA Bulgaria was the trailblazer organization to promote this new approach to education based on the experiential and highly-innovative hands-on programmes we offer. JA Bulgaria has been a major force in the adoption of a new Law on Education in Bulgaria, which makes room for entrepreneurship as a separate compulsory subject for all students. Showing evidence from both the real and substantial impact of our programs within the schools, we were able to convince policy-makers for the need to provide this kind of innovative training and learning techniques as broadly as possible. Currently under the new Law, (officially in force since 2016), a separate subject called “Technologies and Entrepreneurship” exists as part of the compulsory curriculum for all grades,from 1 to 8. There is also an option for high school students to “major” in entrepreneurship in grades 11 and 12. 

 

JA Bulgaria’s model of entrepreneurship education and key achievements

Based on interactive and hands-on experiences, our model ensures the progression of education in entrepreneurship, financial literacy and employability skills from primary school to higher education. Having started with only 10 pilot classes, today JA Bulgaria offers 24 educational programs and initiatives. Young people benefit from project-based curricula and real-life exposure to the business community. Students develop an entrepreneurial mindset and see entrepreneurship as a viable career option. Our programs are delivered in about 1000 general and vocational schools (nearly 50% of all schools in Bulgaria), thus annually, reaching more than 33,000 schools comprising of 500 university students in 450 cities and villages.

After 20 years of active service and dedicated work at changing students’, teachers’, and principals’ attitudes, we can say that today, we are starting to see results of our efforts – more than 100 real businesses set up by young people in Bulgaria, hundreds of new jobs created (according to a survey conducted in our alumni network in 2015), thousands of successful young people who are developing themselves within large and small Bulgarian businesses and international companies as well as non-profits and state institutions. 

As a strategic partner of the Ministry of Education and Science in introducing entrepreneurship education in Bulgaria, since 2010, JA Bulgaria has been implementing a nationwide program for professional development targeted at teachers at all stages of school education. Educators are trained in the usage of innovative methods to enhance abilities in problem-solving, teaming, organization, communication and leadership and apply their knowledge towards traditional subjects such as math, languages, history and social sciences. Since then, more than 4000 teachers have been trained and have started working with our programs.

 

EE-HUB in Bulgaria

To build on the efforts done so far and under the umbrella of the EE-HUB, JA Bulgaria is leading the establishment of a national HUB. The European Entrepreneurship Education Network (EE-HUB) in Bulgaria is a joint policy-level initiative of JA Bulgaria, JA Europe and Citi. The goal of the national HUB is to promote entrepreneurship education as a means to change peoples’ mindset, improve the local ecosystem and reinforce the strategic importance not only for skills development, but also for jobs creation and economic growth. The HUB is working primarily at a policy-level, implementing a well-targeted “top-down” approach to achieve its goals. On the other hand, the national HUB will also help to map the differences and better read the landscape, collect data, collect input on Europe’s priorities based on the national context and spread of information. 

The national HUB was officially launched on the November 29th  while at the event “Investing in Europe’s transformers” bringing together over 450 participants from all over Europe. The National HUB is already supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Bulgaria, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Youth and Sports, local municipalities and other relevant stakeholders, all present at the launch event. So far, private organizations such as CITI Foundation, Novartis, AmCham and its member companies and other are also taking part of the discussions. 

The national HUB will continue its work on the ground by combining experts’ meetings following the key priorities identified and outreach events to raise awareness and advocate for more and for better entrepreneurship education in Bulgaria. 

 

Category : Entrepreneurship Education Strategy Posted : 27 November 2017 15:06 UTC
About the Author
Milena Stoycheva, CEO, JA Bulgaria

Milena is currently the CEO of Junior Achievement in Bulgaria, Visiting Professor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the EIT Digital Node of the EIT at the University of Trento, and an executive with extensive national and international experience in the area of education and training, entrepreneurship development, business skills and economic and financial literacy. She has been selected as a Member of the Council on Education, Science and Health and Innovation with the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Rossen Plevneliev.

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